Washington state's Department of Ecology's Laws and Rules web site is offering two new features to solicit input from the people that use their rules, in hopes of making the rules easier to understand.
The first new feature is their "Test Our Rule Writing" Web site where you can read a draft rule and then take a short test to answer questions that pertain to the rule you just read. The results of the test will show the agency where the rule language can be improved for clarity and usability. To test an Ecology rule visit http://www.ecy.wa.gov/laws-rules/rule_test/index.htm.
The second new feature is the "Easy-To-Read Rules" Web site, which provides
a list of Ecology rules that have been reformatted to make the rule easier
to read and use. Additional information like an introduction to the rule,
background information and where guidance documents for the rule can be
found are also included to assist the users of the rule. Visit
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/laws-rules/ecy_format/index.htm to see the Ecology
rule format. Be sure to click on the Feedback link to let them know what you
CHEMICAL PLANT MANAGERS SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR CLEAN AIR ACT VIOLATIONS
Two former managers of the Huntsman Chemical Plant in Port Arthur, Texas received prison sentences this week for violating regulations under the Clean Air Act. Jeffrey L. Jackson, the former plant manager for the Huntsman Chemical Plant in Port Arthur, was sentenced to 36 months in prison and fined $50,000. Michael Peters, the former environmental manager for the Huntsman facilities, also was sentenced to 36 months in prison and a fine of $50,000. Jackson and Peters each faced 25 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million.
Jackson and Peters were each convicted on December 9, 1999, by a jury in Beaumont of three counts of operating a wastewater tank which discharged a dangerous level of benzene, a toxic chemical, in violation of the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) at the Huntsman Chemical Plant between December 1994 and December 1996; one count of conspiracy to withhold information from the Texas National Resource Conservation Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and one count of making a false statement to the EPA.
Testimony at the trial showed that Jackson and Peters operated an above-ground storage tank containing benzene-contaminated wastewater that had damaged seals, resulting in unauthorized emissions of benzene and other chemicals. The tank had been damaged when it was struck by lightning in 1995, causing a fire that damaged 20 percent of its seals.
The benzene NESHAPS require that a tank with damaged seals be repaired or emptied within 45 days of discovery to control emissions of benzene, but the evidence at trial showed that Jackson and Peters continued to operate the tank beyond the 45 day period, and concealed the use and the emissions from the TNRCC. In addition, Jackson and Peters were found guilty of providing to the EPA a "Notification of Continuous Release," which contained false information about the benzene releases.
Members of the Texas Environmental Enforcement Task Force investigated the case. Agencies involved in this case include: the Special Investigations Unit of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the
Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division (Dallas),
and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Beaumont).
TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL ACT (TSCA)
- August 25, 2002- Quadrennial reporting period begins for chemical
manufacturers and importers to submit current data on the production,
volume, plant site, and site-limited status of certain substances listed on
the TSCA chemical substances inventory.
CLEAN AIR ACT (CAA)
- August 29, 2002 - Existing sources subject to organic hazardous air
pollutant emission controls under 40 CFR 63, Subpart G, for synthetic
organic chemical manufacturing industry production processes must submit
quarterly report to EPA.
- September 5, 2002 - Owners and operators of flexible operation units not
designed as elastomer product processing units in accordance with national
emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for Group 1 polymers and
resins, 40 CFR 63 Subpart U, must perform annual applicability
- September 12, 2002 - Owners or operators of flexible operation units not
designed as thermoplastic product processing units in accordance with
national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for Group IV
polymers and resins, 40 CFR 63 Subpart JJJ, must perform annual
CLEAN WATER ACT(CWA)
- September 30, 2002 - Owners or operators of industrial facilities located in
EPA Region 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, or 10 subject to terms and conditions of
EPA's NPDES storm water multi-sector general permit must calculate average
concentrations for the pollutant parameter that it monitors.
WHITMAN STRESSES WATER CONSERVATION SUGGESTS WAYS TO CUT WATER USE
U.S. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman is urging Americans to find ways to eliminate the 14 percent loss of water that, on average, our households experience every day.
"Nationally, an average of 14 percent of the water we buy is lost through leaks without our ever using it - that's like paying a 14 percent sales tax on something you don't get to use," Whitman said. August is "Water Efficiency Month," part of EPA's celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act.
A typical family of four spends about $820 on water supply fees and sewer charges per year and an additional $230 on heating the water. In many communities, the water and sewer costs can be twice that amount or higher. Many people do not realize how much money they can save by taking simple steps to save water and they don't know the cumulative effects such small changes can have on water resources and environmental quality.
"Water is truly a staple of our existence and using that water efficiently needs to be part of our daily lives," said Whitman. "Fixing a leaky faucet, toilet or lawn watering system can reduce water consumption. Changing to water-efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances can be major water and energy savers as well.
"I believe water is the biggest environmental issue we face in the 21st century in terms of both quantity and quality," said Whitman. "The drought this summer is reminding many Americans of the need to appreciate clean water as an invaluable resource. As the U.S. population increases, the need for clean water supplies continues to grow dramatically and puts additional stress on our limited water resources. We can all take steps to save and conserve this valuable resource."
Reducing water usage translates into critical energy savings. Nationally, about eight percent of America's total energy production is used to treat, pump and heat water. Just as important as the energy savings are the improvements in environmental quality. Diverting less water for municipal uses preserves more streamflow to maintain a healthy aquatic environment. Less energy demand results in fewer pollutants from power plants.
When individual communities have focused on using water efficiently, they have enjoyed a record of success. Some communities such as Seattle, New York City and Boston have been able to reduce overall water use by over 20 percent. To spotlight these successes, EPA has published "Cases in Water Conservation: How Efficiency Programs Help Water Utilities Save Water and Avoid Costs."
To learn more about the simple things people can do to save water, take a virtual tour of a water saver home at http://www.h2ouse.org . Learn more about what you can do both in your home and at work by visiting EPA and their partners in water conservation on their websites at http://www.epa.gov/owm/water-efficiency/index.htm and http://www.energystar.gov/products/clotheswashers . For copies of "Cases in Water Conservation: How Efficiency Programs Help Water Utilities Save Water and Avoid Costs," call 513-489-8190 and ask for publication number EPA832-B-02-003. Copies of the report and additional information also can be found at http://www.epa.gov/owm/water-efficiency/index.htm .