Major Changes to Refrigerant Rules

October 03, 2016

The EPA has finalized two rules that will reduce the projected growth and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of chemicals commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning that are potent greenhouse gases (GHG) and can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide. These rules are the latest in a series of actions to reduce emissions of climate-damaging HFCs while working with other countries to amend the Montreal Protocol to address HFCs globally.

“These two rules demonstrate the United States’ continued leadership in protecting public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We are reducing emissions of HFCs that are harmful to the climate system and showing the world that we can do this responsibly and thoughtfully by working with businesses and environmental groups. I’m especially excited that we have taken these actions ahead of next month’s Montreal Protocol negotiations.”

Under Section 612 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program is adding to the list of safer and more climate-friendly chemicals for use in the refrigeration and air conditioning and fire suppression sectors; listing several new substitutes as unacceptable in specific end-uses in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector; and changing the status of a number of substitutes that were previously listed as acceptable in the refrigeration and air conditioning and foam blowing sectors. Foam products that contain unacceptable foam blowing agents are also listed as unacceptable.

In each instance where EPA is listing a substitute as unacceptable or changing the status of a substitute from acceptable to unacceptable, EPA has determined that there are other alternatives that pose lower risk overall to human health, the environment, or both. This rule results in environmental benefits from avoided HFC emissions of up to 7 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent (MMTCO2eq) in 2025, equal to the GHG emissions from 1.5 million cars in one year.

In the second rule, EPA is strengthening the refrigerant management program under Section 608 of the CAA and extending the regulations to non-ozone depleting substitutes such as HFCs and other substitutes. This action will lead to reductions in emissions by lowering the leak rate at which large air conditioning and refrigeration appliances must be repaired and incorporating industry best practices such as verifying repairs and conducting regular leak inspections on leaking appliances. In addition to the benefits for the ozone layer, EPA estimates the refrigerant emissions avoided from this rule will be more than 7 MMTCO2eq annually.

Significant changes include:

  • Extends the requirements of the Refrigerant Management Program to cover substitute refrigerants, such as HFCs. Note that EPA has previously exempted some substitutes from the Section 608 venting prohibition through previous rules. Such substitutes are also exempt from the requirements of this rule. This fact sheet describes the elements of the Refrigerant Management Program.
  • Lowers the leak rate thresholds that trigger the duty to repair refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment containing 50 or more pounds of refrigerant.
    • Lowers from 35% to 30% for industrial process refrigeration (IPR)
    • Lowers from 35% to 20% for commercial refrigeration equipment
    • Lowers from 15% to 10% for comfort cooling equipment
  • Requires quarterly/annual leak inspections or continuous monitoring devices for refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment that have exceeded the threshold leak rate
  • Requires owners/operators to submit reports to EPA if systems containing 50 or more pounds of refrigerant leak 125% or more of their full charge in one calendar year
  • Extends the sales restriction to HFCs and other non-exempt substitutes, with the exception of small cans (containing 2 pounds or less) of non-exempt substitutes (e.g., primarily HFC-134a) for motor vehicle air conditioner servicing. These small cans can continue to be sold without technician certification so long as the small cans have a self-sealing valve to reduce refrigerant releases.
  • Requires technicians to keep a record of refrigerant recovered during system disposal from systems with a charge size from 5–50 lb

These two rules address emissions of HFCs, which are the focus of ongoing international negotiations of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which is a globally ratified treaty that is phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances. HFCs are commonly used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances, and last year countries stated their intent to “work within the Montreal Protocol to an HFC amendment in 2016.” Countries will convene from October 10–14 in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 2016 Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol for the final negotiating session of the year to agree to an HFC phasedown amendment.

In developing and finalizing these two rules, EPA met with industry, environmental groups, and other interested stakeholders and considered more than 150 comments on both proposals.

New Exclusions for Solvent Recycling and Hazardous Secondary Materials

EPA’s new final rule on the definition of solid waste creates new opportunities for waste recycling outside the scope of the full hazardous waste regulations. This rule, which went into effect on July 13, 2015, streamlines the regulatory burden for wastes that are legitimately recycled.

The first of the two exclusions is an exclusion from the definition of solid waste for high-value solvents transferred from one manufacturer to another for the purpose of extending the useful life of the original solvent by keeping the materials in commerce to reproduce a commercial grade of the original solvent product.

The second, and more wide-reaching of the two exclusions, is a revision of the existing hazardous secondary material recycling exclusion. This exclusion allows you to recycle, or send off-site for recycling, virtually any hazardous secondary material. Provided you meet the terms of the exclusion, the material will no longer be hazardous waste.

Learn how to take advantage of these exclusions at Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast on October 14 where you will learn:

  • Which of your materials qualify under the new exclusions
  • What qualifies as a hazardous secondary material
  • Which solvents can be remanufactured, and which cannot
  • What is a tolling agreement
  • What is legitimate recycling
  • Generator storage requirements
  • What documentation you must maintain
  • Requirements for off-site shipments
  • Training and emergency planning requirements
  • If it is acceptable for the recycler to be outside the US

Bring your questions to this interactive online session. Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372.

Los Angeles Hazardous Waste, DOT, and IATA Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management in California and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Los Angeles, CA, on October 11–13 and save $100. Get the training you need to ship dangerous goods by air at Transportation of Dangerous Goods: Compliance with IATA Regulations on October 14. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Raleigh 24-Hour HAZWOPER and DOT/IATA Training

Register for Hazardous Operations and Emergency Response 24-Hour Training in Cary, NC on October 17–19 and ensure you are ready to respond. Learn how to prepare hazardous materials/dangerous goods for shipment by ground and air at DOT/IATA: Transportation of Hazardous Materials by Ground and Air on October 20. To register for these courses, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Knoxville RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Knoxville, TN, on October 18–20 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

EPA Extends Deadline for CDR Reporting

EPA has amended the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) regulations by extending the submission deadline for 2016 reports from September 30, 2016 to October 31, 2016. This is a one-time extension for the 2016 submission period only. The CDR regulations require manufacturers (including importers) of certain chemical substances included on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory (TSCA Inventory) to report current data on the manufacturing, processing, and use of the chemical substances.

EPA took this action in response to concerns raised by the regulated community about their ability to submit the required information within the prescribed period. The compelling concerns raised by industry include delays in reporting as a result of issues associated with several aspects of electronic reporting. EPA decided that it was appropriate to extend the reporting period to allow the regulated community additional time to submit their reports.

With respect to the timing of this action, the need for the Agency to extend the deadline arose, in part, as a result of issues experienced by the regulated community with several aspects of electronic reporting that were brought to the Agency’s attention only recently. Specifically, these issues include difficulties with inexact entries when using XML Schema and the length of time for data validation.

EPA to Streamline Approval of SW-846 Test Methods

EPA has announced a new streamlined process for adding non- regulatory methods to “Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Physical/Chemical Methods,” EPA publication SW-846. The SW-846 compendium consists of over 200 analytical methods for sampling and analyzing waste and other matrices. Most methods are intended as guidance (i.e., non-regulatory methods) with the exception of what EPA refers to as “method defined parameters” or MDPs, that are required in the RCRA regulations for compliance purposes.

In the interest of releasing new and updated SW-846 methods more quickly in order to respond to emergencies and issues such as emerging contaminants and keeping up with the speed of scientific advancements, EPA will be using a new process to release validated non-regulatory methods for public comment and to incorporate these methods into the official SW-846 compendium. EPA is notifying the public of the new process, which the Agency will begin using for its next set of updates to SW-846.

Under the new process, EPA will no longer employ the Federal Register as a vehicle for adding non-regulatory methods and guidance to SW-846. However, the Agency will continue to use the regulatory development process for adding MDP methods to SW-846 (see https://www.epa.gov/hw-sw846/final-rule-methods-innovation-rule-mir#mdp for a list of MDPs). Non-regulatory methods and guidance will be released using EPA’s SW-846 website, which can be found at https://www.epa.gov/hw-sw846.

EPA Region 10 Completes More than 30 Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Actions

EPA Region 10, completed more than 30 environmental compliance and enforcement actions in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington in April through June 2016.

Violations of environmental laws put public health and the environment at risk. EPA enforces federal environmental laws to protect communities and to keep our air, land, and water healthy. These compliance and enforcement efforts also level the playing field by deterring violators who might otherwise have an unfair business advantage over environmentally compliant facilities and businesses.

The following table identifies several of the Region 10 environmental enforcement actions. A full list of the enforcement actions is available here.

State

City

Name

Description

Penalty/Enforcement Action

Date

ID

Bonners Ferry

Three Mile Corner Exxon

Violated underground storage tank (UST) rules

$210

6/14/2016

ID

Pocatello

J.R. Simplot Company

Violated air pollution control rules for SO2, acid mist and fine particulates (PM2.5). (CAA)

$899,000

4/12/2016

WA

Bothell

Leviton Manufacturing Company Inc.

Violated hazardous substances inventory reporting rules. (EPCRA)

$5,000

6/2/2016

WA

Mukilteo

Applied Finishing Inc.

Violated hazardous waste management rules. (RCRA)

$2,000

6/2/2016

WA

Moses Lake

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC

Violated hazardous substances storage and inventory reporting requirements. (EPCRA/CERCLA)

$125,000

4/29/2016

WA

Seattle

North Star Casteel Products Inc.

Violated toxic chemical release inventory reporting rules. (EPCRA)

$133,900

6/2/2016

Ohio to Modify PM 2.5 Rules

On August 24, 2016, the Federal EPA published a final rule in 81 FR 58010 regarding the requirements for state implementation plans (SIP) for attaining and maintaining the 2012 national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5). Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) rule 3745-31-01 is a part of Ohio’s “Permit-to-Install New Sources and Permit-to-Install and Operate” Program.

As part of Ohio’s SIP, Ohio EPA has performed a comprehensive precursor demonstration to show that volatile organic compounds (VOC) and ammonia are insignificant sources of PM2.5 for the purpose of new source review in nonattainment areas. Therefore OEPA intends to modify OAC rule 3745-31-01 to reflect this finding.

OEPA is conducting early stakeholder outreach to provide interested parties an opportunity to shape the direction of rules before staff begin drafting language. By sharing your comments early in the process, Ohio EPA can consider different concepts and ensure the state rule development takes into account the effects the rules will have.

If you have any questions regarding this early stakeholder outreach, contact Paul Braun, at paul.braun@epa.ohio.gov or 614-644-3734. Comments are due by end of business, October 31, 2016.

EPA’s CREAT Tool Helps Communities Prepare for Climate Change

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthen America’s climate resilience, the EPA has released an updated online climate change risk assessment tool that assists users in designing adaptation plans based on the types of threats confronting their communities. EPA’s Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT), is designed for water utilities.

“Water utilities operate on the front lines of climate change and face the challenges of increased drought, flooding and sea level rise. EPA is working to strengthen America’s communities by providing climate preparedness tools like CREAT that local leaders can use to make smart decisions,” said Joel Beauvais, deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water.

In its updated version, CREAT presents information in a series of intuitive modules, provides climate change projection data, and presents monetized risk results. CREAT’s climate projection map illustrates future climate scenarios including precipitation intensity for a 100-year storm or the number of days per year with temperatures above 100?F. With this powerful information, utility owners and operators can better prepare for the impacts of climate change.

CREAT was built and updated in consultation with drinking water and wastewater utilities, water sector associations, climate science and risk assessment experts, and multiple federal partners. The tool has been used by a number of communities in their adaptation planning efforts. For example, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, used CREAT to better understand the vulnerability of its wastewater infrastructure and operations while the city of Houston, Texas, used the tool to better understand the vulnerability of its surface water supplies.

Click the following links to see videos that show how CREAT has benefitted utilities such as Camden, New Jersey and Faribault, Minnesotan.

To access CREAT or to learn more about water sector climate readiness, visit EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities initiative.

EPA’s SmartWay Honors Green Leaders in the Freight Industry

EPA recently announced the 2016 winners of the SmartWay® Excellence Awards, which honors logistic companies and shippers in the retail and manufacturing sectors. The awards recognize the top-performing SmartWay shipper partners that demonstrate how businesses can mitigate their carbon footprints and contribute to cleaner, healthier air, while saving on fuel costs as they move goods across America.

“EPA is honoring its top environmental performers—those SmartWay Partners that have taken significant steps towards a sustainable freight transportation energy future,” said Christopher Grundler, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “SmartWay Excellence Award recipients have become leaders in this crucial sector of our economy by embracing the mutual benefits that efficiency brings for both operational performance and environmental results.”

The 2016 SmartWay Excellence Awardees for retailers, manufactures, and logistics companies are:

  • Bacardi USA, Inc. (Coral Gables, FL.)
  • Hewlett-Packard Inc.
  • Johnson & Johnson (Skillman, NJ)
  • Kimberly-Clark Corporation (Knoxville, TN)
  • Lowe’s Companies Inc. (Wilkesboro, NC)
  • The Home Depot U.S.A. Inc (Atlanta, GA)
  • Transportation Insight LLC (Hickory, NC)
  • Union Pacific Distribution Services (Omaha, NE)
  • Whirlpool Corporation (Benton Harbor, MI)

Award winners demonstrate a commitment to environmental leadership by achieving lower emissions and by demonstrating effective collaboration, advanced technology and operational practices, robust SmartWay data validation and reporting, communication and public outreach, and implementation of sustainability practices in local communities.

EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership supports companies who demonstrate their commitment to corporate sustainability and social responsibility by moving goods in the cleanest, most energy-efficient way possible. Since 2004, SmartWay Partners have avoided emitting more than 72 million metric tons of the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change, while saving more than 170 million barrels of oil and $24.9 billion in fuel costs—equivalent to eliminating annual energy use in more than six million homes. SmartWay also contributes to cleaner air and healthier citizens by significantly reducing emissions of the pollution that contributes to smog, including fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.

The awards were presented at the 2016 Annual Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals conference in Orlando, Florida.

Awards for SmartWay carrier partners—such as trucking companies, multimodal transport companies, and barge transport companies—will be announced at the 2016 American Trucking Association Management Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada

Jaffrey Company Fined $250,000 for Burying CRTs in the Ground

New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph A. Foster, EPA Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge Tyler Amon, and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) Commissioner Thomas S. Burack announced that PLH, LLC, a New Hampshire limited liability company managed by Stephen Pelkey in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, entered pleas of guilty in Cheshire County Superior Court to two felony indictments for failure to lawfully manage regulated waste and was sentenced on September 26, 2016. The indictments allege that PLH, LLC unlawfully operated a solid waste facility by keeping broken Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) from old computer monitors or televisions buried in the ground without a permit at its property at 136 Old Sharon Road in Jaffrey between 2010 and 2013 and also stored used monitors above ground without a permit where they were exposed to the elements.

At the sentencing hearing, Cheshire Superior Court Judge Ruoff imposed a fine of $250,000 plus a $10,000 penalty assessment on the indictment alleging the company kept buried CRTs between July 2010 and August 2013. The court also sentenced PLH on the second indictment of improper maintenance of CRT waste to a consecutive fine of $250,000 that has been suspended provided the company remains of good behavior for ten years. Identical indictments against Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group, Inc., formerly known as Atlas Advanced Pyrotechnics, Inc. Atlas Fireworks Factory, Inc. and Atlas Property Management, LLC, have been dropped upon the pleas of guilty and acceptance of responsibility by PLH, LLC.

New Hampshire law requires that anyone who operates a solid waste storage facility apply for and retain a proper permit issued by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). PLH, LLC, and the Atlas companies had no such permit. “The Department of Environmental Services has a mission to enforce the laws protecting our state’s environment and public health,” said Commissioner Tom Burack of NHDES. “We take seriously the reporting of waste management violations and want to ensure that violators are stopped and required to responsibly clean up wastes that have been improperly managed or disposed of.”

In May, 2013, NHDES became aware through tips from informants that Pelkey had instructed employees to dig trenches for the monitors, crush the glass and remove metal parts for recycling, and then bury the remainder. After an initial investigation that located buried CRTs, EPA began a criminal investigation, conducting further interviews of employees and former employees. When questioned by NHDES about the burial in August 2013, Pelkey and his companies voluntarily agreed to have the waste excavated. Over 100,000 pounds of waste was then disposed of properly at the defendants’ expense. The investigation culminated in formal criminal charges against PLH, LLC and Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group, Inc.

Tyler Amon, U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge states, “The defendant acquired thousands of CRTs that later became worthless, and then brazenly had Atlas employees dig trenches and bury many of the CRTs in an attempt to avoid paying for proper disposal. Others were left exposed out in the elements, unnecessarily placing people and the environment at risk of exposure to the toxic heavy metals contained in the deteriorating CRTs.”

“This is an important prosecution. The State wants to make clear that those who engage in the deliberate, unlawful burial and mismanagement of waste will be prosecuted and punished. Hopefully this case will serve as a deterrent for those who are considering similar actions. “ said Joseph A. Foster, Attorney General.

PLH, LLC paid a first scheduled installment of $25,000 and the $10,000 penalty assessment toward the total $250,000 fine and will make increasing yearly payments ending in October 2019 pursuant to a schedule imposed by the court as part of the sentence.

Chemoil Required to Retire More than $71 Million in Credits from Renewable Fuels Market

EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice have announced a settlement with Chemoil Corporation that requires the company to retire 65 million renewable fuel credits to resolve alleged violations of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The current market value of the credits—along with an additional 7.7 million renewable identification numbers (RINs) already retired by Chemoil in the lead up to this settlement—is more than $71 million. Chemoil will also pay a $27 million civil penalty under the settlement, the largest in the history of the EPA’s fuel programs.

EPA and the Department of Justice allege that Chemoil exported at least 48.5 million gallons of biodiesel from 2011 to 2013, but failed to retire the more than 72 million RINs that were generated for the exported fuel. RINs are credits created when a company produces or imports renewable fuel and can be traded or sold to refiners and fuel importers or exporters to help them comply with the RFS program requirements.

The RFS program requires exporters to retire RINs for renewable fuel like biodiesel, because the fuel exported is no longer available for blending into United States’ fossil fuel supply and, for that reason, cannot be used to meet the renewable fuel volume mandate established by Congress. If exporters fail to retire the appropriate number and type of RINs associated with the exported fuel, as the U.S. alleges happened here, it artificially inflates the volume of renewable fuel available for blending in this country and the number of RINs available to meet the renewable fuel volume mandate. Ensuring exporters comply with the regulations for RIN retirement is critical to the proper functioning and integrity of the RFS program.

“This settlement delivers on the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals that Congress envisioned for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “It’s vital that companies retire renewable fuel credits when exporting fuel abroad. Upholding this requirement is a key way EPA is working to maintain program integrity and a level playing field for companies that follow the law.”

“Congress adopted the Renewable Fuel Standards program to achieve significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions, reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and grow our domestic renewable energy industry,” said Assistant Attorney for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, John C. Cruden. “By ensuring a level playing field within the industry through vigorous compliance monitoring and enforcement, we help ensure that these important Congressional goals are met.”

EPA discovered the alleged violations as a result of tips from RFS program participants.

EPA is responsible for developing and implementing regulations to ensure that transportation fuel sold in the U.S. contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel. The RFS program—created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005—was developed in collaboration with refiners, renewable fuel producers, and many other stakeholders. It was expanded and strengthened under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was designed to encourage the blending of renewable fuels into our nation’s motor vehicle fuel supply to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, help grow the nation’s renewable energy industry, and achieve GHG reductions.

Chemoil is based in San Francisco, California, and sells marine, aviation, diesel, renewable fuels, and residual oil products.

Chem-Solv Inc. to Pay $1.5 Million in Penalties for Illegally Storing and Transporting Hazardous Waste

Chem-Solv, a Roanoke, Virginia-based chemical distributing company, which previously pleaded guilty to illegally storing hazardous waste and to transporting hazardous waste from its facility in Roanoke to another facility, was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke, U.S. Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr., announced.

Chem-Solv, formerly known as Chemicals and Solvents Inc., entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. in December 2015 in which it agreed to pay a $1million criminal fine for these violations, as well as an additional $250,000 to fund environmental community service projects. Chem-Solv has agreed to serve five years’ probation, during which time it must develop and implement an environmental compliance plan and be subjected to yearly independent environmental audits. In conjunction with the criminal settlement, the U.S. EPA reached a civil settlement with Chem-Solv and the company paid a $250,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of improper hazardous waste storage at Chem-Solv’s Roanoke facility. Chem-Solv was sentenced in District Court as described in the Plea Agreement.

“This prosecution should send a clear and consistent message to all business operating in the Western District of Virginia, that this United States Attorney’s Office, along with our partners on the Blue Ridge Environmental Crimes Task Force, will not allow profits and corporate bottom lines to harm our environment,” U.S. Attorney Fishwick said. “When we find environmental violations, we will pursue righteous cases, both criminally or civilly, to protect our natural resources.”

“Today’s sentencing of Chem-Solv, Inc. stemming from illegal transportation and storage of hazardous waste is a clear signal that such illegal acts will not be tolerated,” said Floyd Sherman, US DOT-OIG regional Special Agent-in-Charge. “Working with our law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues, we will continue to protect the public’s safety from those that would seek to circumvent DOT-related laws and regulations.”

“Laws for storing and transporting hazardous waste and toxic chemicals are designed to protect public health and safety,” said Jennifer Lynn, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Virginia. “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that violators who ignore those laws, putting workers and the public at risk, can expect to face the consequences in court.”

Chem-Solv operates a chemical blending and distribution facility in Roanoke as well as distribution facilities in Colonial Heights, Virginia; Rock Hill, South Carolina; and Piney Flats, Tennessee. Chem-Solv is in the business of purchasing chemicals and then reselling them to customers, either directly or after repackaging. Occasionally, Chem-Solv generated hazardous waste. A hazardous waste is waste which, because of its designation, quantity, concentration, or characteristics, poses a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment.

Count One of the Information is based on a spill of several hundred gallons of ferric chloride—a hazardous substance—on the Chem-Solv facility in Roanoke in June 2012. Although most of the waste was cleaned up using vacuum trucks, some of the ferric chloride flowed from the Chem-Solv facility onto an adjoining property both before, and during, the cleanup. The pleadings allege that the adjoining property owner was not notified that ferric chloride had leaked onto their property. Chem-Solv then employed a waste transportation company to transport the waste to a disposal facility. Hazardous waste may only be transported by permitted carriers, and it must be properly placarded and be accompanied by a hazardous waste manifest identifying the waste and its characteristics. The pleadings allege that, although Chem-Solv was aware of the hazardous nature of ferric chloride, it did not properly test the waste and instructed the transporter to transport the waste as non-hazardous, without the proper placards and manifests.

Count Two of the Information charges Chem-Solv with the improper storage of hazardous waste. Chem-Solv was given advance notice of an EPA inspection in December 2013. At the time the advance notice was given, Chem-Solv was storing numerous containers of chemical waste on its facility that should have been disposed of properly. The pleadings allege that Chem-Solv directed its employees to load three trailers with the chemical waste in an attempt to prevent EPA inspectors from discovering it. Two of the three trailers were taken offsite. The third trailer, which was not road worthy, was stored on the Chem-Solv property for almost a year and its contents were discovered by law enforcement officers on November 19, 2014, while executing a search warrant. That trailer was found to contain hazardous waste that Chem-Solv did not have a permit to store on its facility.

The investigation was conducted by Special Agents of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. DOT’s Office of Inspector General. Assistance in the investigation was provided by the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Roanoke City Police Department, and other members of the Blue Ridge Environmental Task Force. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennie L. M. Waering, Senior Trial Attorney James B. Nelson of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and EPA Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel David Lastra.

Watts Regulator Co. Fined for NESHP Violations

Watts Regulator Co., a company that manufactures valves in Franklin, New Hampshire, has taken steps to help prevent emissions of hazardous air pollutants under an agreement signed recently with the EPA. According to the settlement, the company will also pay a penalty of $112,200 to settle claims it violated the CAA.

Watts Regulator operates two foundry process lines at its facility in Franklin. Each line has a separate set of controls for particulate matter. These process lines are subject to two National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). One standard applies to metal fabrication and finishing operations, and the other applies to aluminum, copper, and other nonferrous foundries.

“To ensure better protection of public health and the environment, it is critical for facilities take appropriate steps to demonstrate that they can meet emission limits,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

According to EPA’s complaint, Watts Regulator had failed to submit timely notifications and reports to EPA for both lines and had failed to conduct a performance test on one of the process lines to ensure it meets EPA’s emission requirements. Watts has since submitted the late reports and completed the required testing. The company was cooperative with EPA, and once notified of the violations, it promptly took steps to come into compliance with federal air regulations.

Final Report on Freedom Industries’ Contamination of Public Drinking Water Supply

The Chemical Safety Board’s (CSB) final report into the massive release of chemicals into the Charleston, West Virginia valley’s primary source of drinking water in 2014 concludes Freedom Industries failed to inspect or repair corroding tanks, and that as hazardous chemicals flowed into the Elk River, the water company and local authorities were unable to effectively communicate the looming risks to hundreds of thousands of affected residents, who were left without clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

On the morning of January 9, 2014, an estimated 10,000 gallons of Crude Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) mixed with propylene glycol phenyl ethers (PPH Stripped) were released into the Elk River when a 46,000-gallon storage tank located at the Freedom Industries site in Charleston failed. As the chemical entered the river it flowed towards West Virginia American Water’s intake, which was located approximately 1.5 miles downstream from the Freedom site.

The CSB’s investigation found that Freedom’s inability to immediately provide information about the chemical characteristics and quantity of spilled chemicals resulted in significant delays in the issuance of the “Do Not Use Order” and informing the public about the drinking water contamination. For example, Freedom’s initially reported release quantity was 1,000 gallons of Crude MCHM. Over the following days and weeks, the release quantity increased to 10,000 gallons. Also, the presence of PPH in the released chemical was not made public until 13 days after the initial leak was discovered.

The CSB’s investigation found that no comprehensive aboveground storage tank law existed in West Virginia at the time of the release, and while there were regulations covering industrial facilities that required Freedom to have secondary containment, Freedom ultimately failed to maintain adequate pollution controls and secondary containment as required.

CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “Future incidents can be prevented with proper communication and coordination. Business owners, state regulators and other government officials and public utilities must work together in order to ensure the safety of their residents. The CSB’s investigation found fundamental flaws in the maintenance of the tanks involved, and deficiencies in how the nearby population was told about the risks associated with the chemical release.”

An extensive technical analysis conducted by the CSB found that the MCHM tanks were not internally inspected for at least 10 years before the January 2014 incident. However, the CSB report notes, since the incident there have been a number of reforms including passage of the state’s Aboveground Storage Tank Act. Among other requirements, the new regulations would have required the tanks at freedom to be surrounded by an adequate secondary containment structure, and require proper maintenance and corrosion prevention, including internal inspections and a certification process.

The CSB’s investigation determined that nationwide water providers have likely not developed programs to determine the location of potential chemical contamination sources, nor plans to respond to similar incidents.

Supervisory Investigator Johnnie Banks said, “The public deserves and must demand clean, safe drinking water. We want water systems throughout the country to study the valuable lessons learned from our report and act accordingly. We make specific recommendations to a national association to communicate these findings and lessons.”

The CSB report recommends that the American Water Works Association, which represents thousands of water companies, communicate the findings from the CSB report to its members and to emphasize the importance of emergency planning and coordination with other entities to ensure timely notification of the public during contamination emergencies.

The CSB made recommendations to the American Water Works Company, Inc. (AW), which owns water systems in 16 states according to its website, including West Virginia American Water in Charleston. The CSB said AW should establish nationwide requirements for all of its treatment plants to inventory potentially hazardous chemicals stored in vulnerable water source areas, assessing the dangers and developing contingency plans to respond to contamination events. West Virginia American Water developed such a plan in June 2016 for the Kanawha Valley which the CSB recommends be modeled in the company’s other plants.

The CSB’s report highlights lessons learned and is calling on aboveground storage tank facilities, government officials, drinking water utilities, and public health agencies across the country to follow these recommended best practices in order to prevent similar incidents.

These lessons include:

  • Above ground storage tank owners should establish regular inspection and monitoring and coordinate with nearby water utilities and emergency response organizations to ensure that they provide adequate information about their stored chemicals for effective planning in the event of a leak.
  • State governments should act immediately to protect source waters and the public from unknown and potentially hazardous chemicals.
  • Water utilities should engage with their Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) and/or State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) to obtain Tier II information. The information obtained should be used to identify water intakes that could potentially be at risk of contamination from those chemicals in the event of a spill or release.
  • Water utilities should assess the capabilities of their water treatment systems to contain potential leaks for all potential sources of significant contamination within the zone of critical concern.
  • Where feasible, water utilities should ensure laboratory testing methods are available to detect the presence or measure the concentration of potential contaminants or classes of contaminants.
  • Public health agencies should coordinate with water utilities, emergency response organizations and facilities storing chemicals near drinking water sources

Chair Sutherland said, “The unacceptable chemical contamination of the Charleston, West Virginia drinking water system could have been prevented had the lessons and recommendations in our CSB report been adopted years ago. Public officials and water companies must work diligently to identify potential risks and assure that the public’s access to safe drinking water is protected.”

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems. The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit www.csb.gov for more information.

100 Shell Oil Co. Underground Storage Tank Sites Banned from Cleanup Fund

As part of a settlement agreement, California’s State Water Resources Control Board has permanently banned 100 of Shell Oil Company’s underground storage tank (UST) claims, held by a subsidiary Equilon Enterprises LLC, from the UST Cleanup Fund for allegedly claiming reimbursement through false or misleading statements on claim forms.

Disqualifying these 100 claims could save the UST Cleanup Fund up to $150 million, significantly reducing Shell’s future reimbursements from the UST Cleanup Fund. In addition, the settlement agreement required Shell to pay $20 million to the parties to the settlement agreement. Specifically, Shell has paid the State Water Board more than $11 million to settle the State Water Board’s administrative claims and alleged False Claims Act violations.

Shell has paid an additional $8 million in settlement moneys to the state’s Office of the Attorney General and a whistleblower related to the alleged violations of the False Claims Act. The State Water Board’s portion of the settlement moneys will go to the UST Cleanup Fund and be used to reimburse other UST Cleanup Fund claims.

“The UST Cleanup Fund is a critical tool the State Water Board uses to protect public health and safety and the environment,” said Cris Carrigan, director of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement. “It is imperative that claimants not engage in bad faith or fraud when accessing these vitally important public-benefit funds by submitting false or misleading statements. If they do, the State Water Board has powerful administrative authority to disqualify and take deductions against claims.”

This settlement is the third one reached by the UST Cleanup Fund for similar conduct by a major oil company, and the State Water Board has been in touch with other state administrators nationwide regarding such conduct by multiple major oil companies.

Man Sentenced to Prison for Unlawful Taking of Bald Eagle and Unlawful Use of Pesticide

US Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced that a Letcher, South Dakota, man who was found guilty of unlawful taking of a bald eagle and unlawful use of a pesticide after a two day jury trial in April of 2016 was sentenced on September 27, 2016, by U.S. District Judge Lawrence L. Piersol.

Theodore Nelson, Jr., was sentenced to 8 months in custody on the Unlawful Taking of a Bald Eagle charge, with 6 months to run concurrent with a prior federal tax evasion sentence and 2 months to run consecutive, and one year of supervised release, with a condition that Nelson must pay $2,500 in restitution. Nelson was also sentenced to 30 days in custody on the Unlawful Use of Pesticide charge to run concurrent with the sentence imposed on the above count. Nelson was ordered to pay a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $35 for both offenses.

“Today’s sentence reaffirms our commitment to the protection of eagles and other wildlife in the District of South Dakota.” said U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler. “We will continue to prosecute and hold accountable those who intentionally and recklessly kill eagles and other protected wildlife in the District of South Dakota.”

Nelson was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 9, 2015. The conviction stemmed from incidents between January 1, 2015, and May 12, 2015, when Nelson, who is a landowner in Sanborn County, without being permitted to do so, knowingly and with wanton disregard for the consequences of his actions, injected a poison, Carbofuran, also known as Furadan 4F, into the carcasses of cows in order to kill predators, including coyotes. Carbofuran is a restricted use pesticide that is extremely toxic to wildlife, including birds. Use of this pesticide for baiting purposes is strictly prohibited, and the label of the Carbofuran’s container says so.

As a result of Nelson’s actions, area animals, including coyotes, and an adult bald eagle, died of Carbofuran poisoning. Laboratory results from the National Fish & Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, confirmed that the eagle died of Carbofuran poisoning, after eating coyote carcasses that were poisoned with Carbofuran poisoning in its system.

“The purposeful misapplication of a pesticide like Furadan 4F to kill coyotes and other predators can be devastating to all wildlife up and down the food chain, including eagles,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mountain-Prairie Region Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Rolince. “This conviction and sentence send a clear message that intentional and unlawful activities that result in the death of federally protected species will not be tolerated.”

“The defendant intentionally and illegally used a restricted use pesticide as bait, which put people, wildlife and the environment at risk,” said Jeffrey D. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in South Dakota. “Today’s sentence sends a strong signal that individuals who misuse restricted use pesticides will be prosecuted.”

This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the EPA, and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan N. Dilges prosecuted the case. Nelson was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Sears to Improve Public Health Protections from Lead Pollution During Home Renovations

EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement with Sears Home Improvement Products Inc. that resolves alleged violations of the federal Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule for work performed by Sears’ contractors during home renovation projects across the country. Under the settlement, Sears will implement a comprehensive, corporate-wide program to ensure that the contractors it hires to perform work minimize lead dust from home renovation activities. Sears will also pay a $400,000 civil penalty.

“Today’s settlement will have a widespread impact across the home improvement industry, significantly reducing exposure to lead paint dust among children and other vulnerable people,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “In order to contract with Sears, a worker must follow lead safe practices. Contractors will carry this certification to every job they do. EPA expects all renovation companies to ensure their contractors follow these critical laws that protect public health.”

“This settlement will help prevent children and wor