Largest Penalty Ever Assessed for Clean Air Act Violations

August 17, 2020
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) Director Janet Coit, and EPA Region 1 announced that Rhode Island has reached a settlement in a significant enforcement action against SMM New England Corporation, d/b/a SIMS Metal Management (SMMNEC), a metal shredding facility in Johnston, Rhode Island, for violations of the Clean Air Act. Under the terms of a consent judgment filed in Providence County Superior Court, SMMNEC has agreed to install equipment to control the release of pollution that may be linked to cancer and severe respiratory illnesses and will pay the largest penalty ever assessed by the State of Rhode Island for violations of the Rhode Island Clean Air Act.
"For too long, SMMNEC has not met its obligation to the people of Rhode Island to protect public health and the environment and keep harmful pollutants out of the air we breathe. SMMNEC's operations in Johnston put Rhode Islanders at risk with uncontrolled emissions of dangerous, airborne substances," said Attorney General Neronha.
"Today, with the filing of a complaint against SMMNEC and the entry of a consent judgment, this will change," Attorney General Neronha added. "Under the terms of the consent judgment, SMMNEC's obligations are clear – it must change the way it does business and comply with the Clean Air Act. It must install state-of-the-art controls and pay meaningful penalties. This Office, together with our partners at RIDEM and the EPA, will hold SMMNEC accountable to these obligations."
As detailed in the complaint, it is alleged that SMMNEC failed to comply with the Rhode Island Clean Air Act by 1) starting construction of a metal shredding operation without applying for a major source air permit, and 2) failing to install the required pollution control equipment for emissions of harmful pollutants.
Further, the State's complaint alleges that SMMNEC has been operating the shredder without the necessary permit and emission controls since 2013.
The SMMNEC metal shredder in Johnston shreds end-of-life automobiles, appliances and other light gauge recyclable metal-bearing materials. This electronically operated, 7,000 horsepower shredder generates enough heat to melt or burn the plastics, paints, surfactants, and oils in the scrap metal materials, which causes harmful emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter (PM), and toxic air contaminants (TACs). The shredder temporarily ceased operating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The consent judgment is the result of a significant and coordinated effort by the Attorney General, RIDEM, and EPA Region 1 to bring the shredder into compliance with Rhode Island law.
"DEM is pleased with the settlement reached in this important case, and that our collective efforts with the Attorney General and the Environmental Protection Agency will result in the company coming into compliance with Rhode Island's Clean Air Act," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "This negotiated settlement would not have been possible without the company's cooperation and its commitment to take responsibility for its actions. By avoiding costly and protracted litigation and negotiating an agreement that results in payment of substantial penalties and completion of supplemental environmental projects to improve air quality, we have ensured a good outcome for Rhode Islanders."
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency applauds the hard work and close coordination it took to achieve this important consent judgment, and we are impressed that it has resulted in the largest Clean Air Act penalty in Rhode Island history," said Dennis Deziel, Regional Administrator of EPA's Region 1 office. "This legal action will result in significant air quality improvements in Johnston. This is good news that will help ensure cleaner, healthier air for citizens in this area."
Under the consent judgment, SMMNEC will pay a total penalty of $875,000 to the State and, if it does not meet the conditions set forth in the consent judgment, an additional $1,125,000 in penalties. The penalty is divided into three parts: a cash payment, Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in affected communities, and a suspended portion.
The cash portion of the penalty requires SMMNEC to pay $550,000 in penalties to the State over 18 months. The SEP portion of the penalty requires SMMNEC to pay $325,000 to fund projects in Johnston and Providence: $200,000 to fund a project aimed at offsetting air pollution issues in the Town of Johnston and $125,000 to address air pollution issues in the Port of Providence, where Sims Metal Management owns and operates another facility. The $1,125,000 balance of the penalty is suspended; this amount will be waived only once certain conditions have been satisfied.
To correct the identified deficiencies and meet its obligations under the Rhode Island Clean Air Act, SMMNEC is required to install state-of-the-art emission control technology to stop further air pollution, including an air pollutant enclosure system to limit the amount of emissions that can escape while the shredder is operating. The emission controls required in the consent judgment are consistent with what has been required in similar facilities across the country, including in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Illinois.
SMMNEC has agreed that upon restarting the shredder, it will immediately implement interim controls to limit further exposure to pollutants in the surrounding area until the new emission control system becomes fully operational.
Under the consent judgment, SMMNEC has agreed to file a complete permit application with RIDEM within 90 days. In addition, the company is required to install particulate matter and VOC emission control technology within specified timeframes or be required to pay suspended penalties.
"The bottom line is, we are not requiring that SMMNEC do anything beyond what they should be doing," said Attorney General Neronha. "Enforcing compliance with Rhode Island's environmental laws isn't anti-business. It preserves Rhode Islanders' health, protects the state's natural beauty – one of our greatest assets – and levels the playing field for those businesses that do make the necessary investments in pollution control technology and follow the rules."
The investigation and resolution of this matter are the result of a coordinated enforcement effort by the Rhode Island Office of Attorney General, RIDEM, and EPA Region 1.
In 2018, EPA Region 1 initiated the first action against SMMNEC by issuing a Notice of Violation alleging violations of the Clean Air Act and citing SMMNEC for its failure to obtain a major source permit and a Title V Operating Permit.
In 2019, RIDEM conducted independent inspections and found additional violations for Air Pollution Control Regulations 1, 5, and 7 (Visible Emissions, Fugitive Dust, and Emissions of Air Contaminants Detrimental to Person or Property, respectively). RIDEM issued a Notice of Intent to Enforce on August 9, 2019, which cited SMMNEC for the violations of the state's Air Pollution Control Regulations.
Also in August of 2019, the Attorney General issued SMMNEC a 60-Day Notice Letter notifying the company that legal action would be forthcoming if SMMNEC did not agree to voluntarily resolve the violations. Since that time, the Attorney General, RIDEM and the EPA have been working diligently to craft a favorable resolution for the State while avoiding years of protracted litigation.
The case is being handled by Special Assistant Attorney General, and Chief of the Environmental Unit, Tricia K. Jedele and Special Assistant Attorney General, Alison B. Hoffman; Mary E. Kay, Assistant Director and Chief Legal Counsel at RIDEM, and Thomas Olivier, Senior Enforcement Counsel for EPA Region 1.
Safely Get Your EHS Training at Home or in Your Office
To help you get the training you need, Environmental Resource Center has added a number of dates to our already popular live webcast training. Stay in compliance and learn the latest regulations from the comfort of your office or home. Webcast attendees receive the same benefits as our seminar attendees including expert instruction, comprehensive course materials, one year of access to our AnswerlineTM service, course certificate, and a personalized user portal on Environmental Resource Center’s website.
Upcoming hazardous waste and DOT hazardous materials webcasts:
Hazardous Waste Management: Annual Update – August 25, September 14, September 29 
DOT Hazardous Materials Update – August 26, September 15, September 30
33 Months in Prison for Dumping Hazardous Waste Without a Permit
United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Edward Miller, age 44, formerly of Sidney, Nebraska, was sentenced by Senior United States District Judge Laurie Smith Camp to 33 months’ imprisonment for the disposal of hazardous waste without a permit. There is no parole in the federal system. After his release from the Bureau of Prisons, Miller will serve a three-year term of supervised release. Senior Judge Smith Camp ordered Miller to pay $25,471 in restitution.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the primary federal law regulating the generation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. Objectives of the RCRA include, among others things, protection of human health and the environment through stringent regulating guidelines. The disposal of hazardous waste is prohibited except in accordance with a RCRA permit.
An investigation conducted by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division determined that on October 24, 2017, Miller loaded a truck and flatbed trailer with various chemicals, which included pesticides, from a warehouse at Renkoski Property Development located in Sidney, Cheyenne County, Nebraska. The containers of chemicals were hazardous wastes due to their corrosivity and ignitability characteristics. Later that day, Miller drove the truck and flatbed trailer with the hazardous wastes through the District of Nebraska, where defendant, without a RCRA permit, disposed of the hazardous wastes by dumping, spilling, and placing the hazardous wastes at three undeveloped sites along South T Road approximately three miles south of Aurora, Hamilton County, Nebraska.
“The defendant’s disregard for the law created serious human health and environmental hazards,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Cate Holston of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Kansas.  “EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to holding responsible parties accountable for violations that endanger our communities, first responders and the environment.”
This case was investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division.
Virtual Safety Summit: Sept 21 – 25
At the Workplace Learning Safety Summit, you can learn how to implement the WLS safety culture development system. The journey begins when safety is more than a goal or objective, but an unwavering value. Environmental Resource Center is partnering with WLS to provide environmental compliance training during the summit on the following topics:
  • EPCRA reporting
  • SPCC Tier I plans
  • Stormwater
  • Universal Waste
Registration details will be available soon, or you can click this link to request information on registration as soon as it's available.
California Air Resources Board to Streamline Aftermarket Parts Exemption Process
California Air Resources Board adopted an updated and streamlined approach to the current procedures for exemptions from California anti- tampering laws for add-on and modified “aftermarket” parts.
This approach was developed in response to rapidly evolving vehicle technology. CARB worked cooperatively with the aftermarket parts industry to update its regulations to address today’s advanced vehicle technology while still protecting the integrity of the systems that controls harmful and toxic emissions.
”These new requirements address recent and more advanced technologies that didn’t exist when the procedures were first written,” said CARB Assistant Executive Officer Annette Hebert. “This is a positive outcome that will benefit consumers and industry and result in faster access to approved aftermarket parts.”
Aftermarket parts are modifications that were not part of the design of the vehicle or engine when originally certified for sale in California. Any parts that have the potential to impact emissions are subject to the protections of California’s anti-tampering regulation, and require an exemption from CARB prior to being sold in the state.
Aftermarket parts are typically installed by consumers to improve performance, add functions, or for aesthetic value. Permission to install parts such as superchargers, turbos, air intakes, and exhaust systems is given only after a thorough engineering evaluation and testing demonstrates that the parts will not impact the performance of the vehicle’s emissions controls.
Over 200 applications for aftermarket parts are submitted annually and that number is expected to grow in the coming years. Since the last amendments to the aftermarket process in 1990, there have been revolutionary changes in the design of new vehicles and emission control systems. CARB staff recognized the rapid advancements in engine and drive train engineering and made updating its evaluation and review process of aftermarket parts a priority.
The improvements will clarify exemption requirements by presenting a more detailed description of CARB review criteria and providing uniform information to manufacturers regarding testing requirements. The streamlined application and review process will allow products to get to the market faster. The new process will commence in 2021.
New York DEC Releases Proposed GHG Reduction Regulations to Implement Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos released proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emission statewide and implement the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The proposed regulations mark a milestone in realizing New York's nation-leading clean energy and climate agenda.
Commissioner Seggos said, "Greenhouse gases are created from a variety of sources and are accelerating the costly economic, public health, and environmental impacts of climate change here in New York and across the globe. With a continued absence of federal leadership, the release of these proposed regulations brings our State one step closer to realizing the State's historic Climate Act and demonstrates New York's continued leadership on climate."
The announcement demonstrates New York's leadership on climate by taking a new and ambitious approach to the accounting of harmful emissions from fossil fuels - within and outside of the state - and for potent, short-lived pollutants such as methane. Additionally, the proposed regulations enable New York State to apply a flexible, stakeholder-driven approach for the annual accounting of net emissions.
The proposed regulations establish the 1990 baseline, per the CLCPA, to include all statewide sources of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as emissions associated with imported electricity and fossil fuels. The proposed regulations establish statewide emission limits on naturally occurring and manmade gases-carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride-to guide State agency actions.
The proposal will be published in the State Register on Aug. 19, and is available at DEC's website. DEC has scheduled two virtual public hearings on the proposal on October 20, and will accept written comments through 5 p.m. on October 27, 2020.
Doreen M. Harris, Acting President and CEO, NYSERDA said, "With the CLCPA, New York is leading the nation in aggressively combatting climate change by reducing harmful GHG emissions and stimulating a green economy that offers opportunity for all. The proposed regulations released by DEC on August 14 are another example of Governor Cuomo's commitment to environmental stewardship and if adopted, will represent a significant milestone in meeting New York's ambitious goal to reduce emissions 85% by 2050 while ensuring a just transition to healthier, more resilient communities.
In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the CLCPA, the most ambitious climate and clean energy legislation in the country. The CLCPA requires the State to achieve a carbon free electricity system by 2040 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050, setting a new standard for states and the nation to expedite the transition to a clean energy economy. The law drives investment in clean energy solutions such as wind, solar, energy efficiency and energy storage and ensures that at least 40% of the clean energy investments benefit disadvantaged and low-to-moderate income communities.
Governor Cuomo's nation-leading climate plan is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State Builds Back Better as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to reach its mandated goals of economy wide carbon neutrality and achieving a zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any other state. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $3.9 billion investment in 67 large-scale renewable projects across the state; the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector; a commitment to develop over 1,800 megawatts of offshore wind by 2024; 1,800% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011; efforts to expand and update the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, increase funding and access to clean energy for low- and moderate-income families; a commitment to electrify buses and trucks; and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, including $206 million of $701 million allocated for lower-socio-economic and disadvantaged communities to build electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure announced by the Governor just last month.
New Upgrades and Functionality to NY DECinfo Locator
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced new upgrades and functionality for the online DECinfo Locator tool that provide enhanced access to DEC documents and public data about the environment and outdoor recreation resources. DECinfo Locator has grown significantly since its debut in the summer of 2019, garnering almost 120,000 page views over the past year.
DECinfo Locator was launched with more than 50 data layers and now boasts more than 65, with more are on the way. Data layers added over the past year include:
  • Air Facility Registrations;
  • Active Landfills;
  • Hunting layers, including Wildlife Management Units;
  • Blue Line reference layers for the Adirondacks and Catskills;
  • Water Withdrawal Annual Reports; and
  • Harmful Algal Blooms.
New reference layers including DEC Regional boundaries and borders for towns, cities, and villages were added at the request of users, more than 100 of whom responded to a feedback survey about the mapper.
The application's functionality has also been improved with new features, including:
  • Streamlined recreational assets layer (fire towers, lean-tos, parking areas, picnic areas, primitive campsites, scenic vistas, viewing areas, and visitor centers), allowing users to see just the attractions they want to add to their maps;
  • New active layers window, letting users easily see which layers are activated on their maps without referring to the application's extensive maps; and
  • Additional supporting information for the mapper, including the layer descriptions page and how-to guides. Access to these resources was also improved post-launch after feedback from users.
DECinfo Locator, a first-of-its-kind platform to make information about New York's environment accessible to everyone, generates results specific to locations across the state, including water and air permits, enforcement actions, recreational assets, environmental education facilities, and sites in the State Superfund and Brownfield Cleanup programs.
DECinfo Locator lets you see and download permits, former industrial site cleanup plans, water quality reports, and more based on where they live, work, or play. Selecting a map feature can bring up links to database records for petroleum bulk storage facilities, oil wells, or permitted mines. You can also view Environmental Justice areas and Climate Smart Communities or find out what local wastewater facilities are doing to reduce their impact on New York's waterbodies. Multiple information layers can be active simultaneously, allowing you to see the many ways DEC is working to protect and enhance New York's environment and recreational opportunities.
Learn more about its features from the DECinfo Locator Tutorial on YouTube.
Updated Isolation Guidance Does Not Imply Immunity to COVID-19
On August 3, 2020, CDC updated its isolation guidance based on the latest science about COVID-19 showing that people can continue to test positive for up to 3 months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others. This science does not imply a person is immune to reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the 3 months following infection. The latest data suggests that retesting someone in the 3 months following initial infection is not necessary unless that person is exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness.
People with COVID-19 should be isolated for at least 10 days after symptom onset and until 24 hours after their fever subsides without the use of fever-reducing medications.
There have been more than 15 international and U.S.-based studies recently published looking at length of infection, duration of viral shed, asymptomatic spread and risk of spread among various patient groups. Researchers have found that the amount of live virus in the nose and throat drops significantly soon after COVID-19 symptoms develop. Additionally, the duration of infectiousness in most people with COVID-19 is no longer than 10 days after symptoms begin and no longer than 20 days in people with severe illness or those who are severely immunocompromised.
Nootkatone Now Registered by EPA
A new active ingredient, discovered and developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been registered by the EPA for use in insecticides and insect repellents.
The new ingredient, nootkatone, repels and kill ticks, mosquitoes, and a wide variety of other biting pests. Nootkatone is responsible for the characteristic smell and taste of grapefruit and is widely used in the fragrance industry to make perfumes and colognes. It is found in minute quantities in Alaska yellow cedar trees and grapefruit skin.
Nootkatone can now be used to develop new insect repellents and insecticides for protecting people and pets. CDC’s licensed partner, Evolva, is in advanced discussions with leading pest control companies for possible commercial partnerships. Companies interested in developing brand name consumer products will be required to submit a registration package to EPA for review, and products could be commercially available as early as 2022.
“CDC is proud to have led the research and development of nootkatone,” said Jay C. Butler, MD, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases. “Providing new alternatives to existing bite-prevention methods paves the way to solving one of biggest challenges in preventing vector-borne diseases—preventing bites.”
Studies show that when nootkatone is formulated into insect repellents, they may protect from bites at similar rates as products with other active ingredients already available and can provide up to several hours of protection.
Nootkatone kills biting pests in a unique way, different from other insecticides already registered by the EPA, including pyrethroids, organophosphates, carbamates, and cyclodienes. Having a new effective ingredient for insecticide available will assist in addressing the growing levels of insecticide-resistance to other products currently in use, according to EPA.
“EPA is pleased to be continuing our partnership with CDC on registering nootkatone, which provides another tool to help protect the American public from biting insects and ticks,” said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “This new active ingredient has the potential to be used in future insect repellents and pesticides that will protect people from disease. In many areas of the United States, mosquitoes have become resistant to currently available pesticides. A new active ingredient in our toolbox will help vector-control programs.”
Mosquito- and tickborne diseases are a growing threat in every U.S. state and territory. The number of reported cases of mosquito- and tickborne diseases doubled from 2004 to 2018. Tickborne diseases represent almost 8 in 10 of all reported vector-borne disease cases in the U.S. Increasing risk from these diseases means increasing demands on federal, state, and local health departments and vector control agencies.
CDC has partnered with Evolva since 2014. In 2017, Evolva was awarded a Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) contract with the key objective of advancing the development of nootkatone and nootkatone-based products for protection against mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue and Zika. This work has been supported with federal funds from CDC and managed by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), BARDA, under Contract No. HHSO100201700015C.
Environmental Resource Center Update
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have combined our Safety and Environmental Tips of the week. This issue includes some of the latest recommendations for you to keep safe at work and at home in this evolving event.
The health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and our communities is what matters most to all of us. To continue to serve you, our seminars have been converted to live online webcasts. You can find a list of upcoming live webcasts at this link.
If you have enrolled in a seminar in August or September, in many cases the seminar will be held on approximately the same dates and at the same times via online webcast. We will contact you by phone or email regarding the details on how to attend the class. On-site training and consulting services are proceeding as usual. If you wish to convert these to remote services, please call your Environmental Resource Center representative or customer service at 800-537-2372.
Because many of our live and on-site training sessions have been postponed or canceled, we have staff available to assist you in coping with COVID-19 as well as your routine EHS requirements. If you have EHS staff that have been quarantined, we can provide remote assistance to help you meet your ongoing environmental and safety compliance requirements. For details, call 800-537-2372.
Seventh Annual Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction
Harness your efforts and join the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in this year’s National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Between September 14-18, thousands of employers across the country and internationally will voluntarily pause and stand down for the safety of construction workers. Virtually or at a safe distance, they will use tools and resources to highlight ways workers can prevent falls from heights on the job.
Falls remain the leading cause of work-related deaths in construction, accounting for one-third of all on-the-job deaths in the industry. Since 2014, NIOSH has worked with OSHA, the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training to develop and promote a National Stand-Down which has gained momentum from the success and participation of the years before. The message that falls are entirely preventable has gained traction.
“This national initiative brings much needed attention to falls, which continue to be the leading cause of fatalities in construction,” said Loren Sweatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “Since OSHA began doing fall prevention stand-down events six years ago, nearly 10 million workers have been reached by the message that falls are preventable. These efforts have been successful in raising awareness of the recognition, evaluation, and control of fall hazards.”
While fatal construction falls increased in 2014 and 2015, reaching a peak in 2016, there has been a steady decline since 2017 in fatal falls from specifically: structures and surfaces, scaffolds, staging, ladders and roofs. And even so, 2020 has brought with it a new challenge.
“The global pandemic has changed the landscape in which work is done, and the importance of addressing traditional hazards on construction sites while protecting workers against the virus is paramount,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This year’s Stand-Down adapts to those needs, and employers who choose to safely set aside time during the workday to educate their workers can become part of a collective community that responds to the needs of the time.”
It is easy to join the Stand-Down. Educational materials and resources in both English and Spanish can be used to plan a safety day, provide a presentation hour, or safely train workers through interactive toolbox talks and many other activities, raising awareness and capacity:
Guidelines for hosting events and gatherings, as well as a handy checklist and planning tool to plan your stand-down event, are also available.
“As our nation’s construction workers continue or return to work during the ongoing pandemic, protecting them from exposure to the virus is a top priority,” said CPWR Executive Director Chris Trahan Cain. “However, we must not forget about the serious safety hazards such as falls that our industry faces on a daily basis. Participating in the Stand-Down – virtually or at a safe social distance – is a perfect opportunity to clock in with workers about fall risks, prevention, and protection.”
Participating employers will earn their firm a Certificate of Participation which can be displayed at the worksite and will help evaluate the reach and impact of the National Stand-Down.
For a full breadth of Stand-Down resources from all partners, and more information about how to plan and what to expect, please visit CPWR and the One Stop Stand-Down Shop, OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down page, and NIOSH’s Prevent Falls in Construction webpage of tools and information.
Mercer Foods Cited for Producing Unregistered Pesticide
EPA announced a settlement with Mercer Foods, LLC, involving the production and distribution of an active ingredient, Pseudomonas chlororaphis, used in pesticides for organic farming. The production facility and the ingredient produced were both unregistered, in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The company has agreed to pay a $51,905 civil penalty.
“Companies must ensure that the pesticide active ingredients they distribute or sell are registered with the EPA,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We will continue to use all of our tools to secure compliance with registration requirements that protect people from potentially harmful chemicals.”
The case was referred to EPA by California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) after California’s Stanislaus County responded to a pesticide incident in August 2019. In this incident, five workers reported being sent to urgent care after exhibiting symptoms of pesticide exposure after having worked with the active ingredient. Pseudomonas chlororaphis may be harmful if inhaled, absorbed through skin, or swallowed.
“This investigation and subsequent enforcement action is an example of the cooperative effort of local, state and federal officials to protect the public and remove unregistered pesticide products from the marketplace,” said Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer Milton O’Haire.
“DPR values its relationship with local Ag Commissioners and our federal colleagues at U.S. EPA,” said DPR Director Val Dolcini. “The incident in Stanislaus County underscores the importance of that partnership when it comes to enforcement matters like this one.”
Mercer Foods has signed a certification statement assuring EPA that the company is no longer producing any ingredients regulated by FIFRA.
Federal pesticide laws require registration of pesticide products and pesticide-production facilities, as well as proper pesticide labeling and packaging. These requirements protect public health and the environment by minimizing the risks associated with the production, use, storage and disposal of pesticides.
Landfill Fined for Falsified Monitoring Records
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced a consent assessment of civil penalty with Advanced Disposal Services Chestnut Valley Landfill, LLC., a municipal waste landfill located in German Township, Fayette County, to address violations of its permit and state law. This agreement requires the landfill to pay a $25,000 civil penalty.
On January 24, 2019, during an unannounced routine inspection of the landfill, DEP discovered that the landfill failed to conduct and record the required twice-daily off-site odor monitoring survey. DEP staff reviewed a signed odor survey record at the landfill which inaccurately and falsely indicated that the January 24th surveys were conducted. Specifically, the record stated that the afternoon survey had already been completed, and no odors observed, even though record was timestamped for later that day. The employee who reported false information in the record is no longer employed by Advanced Disposal Services.
DEP’s environmental compliance includes both scheduled and unannounced on-site inspections coupled with administrative reviews of reported information. Permittees are required to self-inspect, monitor and accurately report certain information and data on a regular basis in accordance with their permit and state regulations. Operators are also required to provide additional data, photos, or information at DEP’s request and to self-report violations. Pennsylvania’s Solid Waste Management Act specifically prohibits an entity covered by the act to “refuse, hinder, obstruct, delay, or threaten any agent or employee of the department in the course of performance of any duty under this act, including, but not limited to, entry and inspection under any circumstances.”
“While violations and enforcement actions of this nature are less common, DEP considers them to be willful and egregious. Obstruction of DEP oversight through false or inaccurate documentation puts the environment at risk, erodes the trust of the community, and will not be tolerated,” said DEP Southwest Regional Director Ron Schwartz.
The $25,000 civil penalty payment will go into the commonwealth’s Solid Waste Abatement Fund.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations. Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training is available via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT Hazardous Materials Training, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
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