February 19, 2019
EPA published a Notice in the February 8 Federal Register
that indicates that the Agency is soliciting comments on the following potential changes in the hazardous waste manifest:
- Allowing fractional units, such as 40.7 gallons or 1.5 tons. Currently the use of fractional units is not authorized, however when reporting in bulk quantities, the difference between 1 ton and 2 tons is significant, but not captured on the manifest
- Allowing new units of measure for volumes and weights, such as ounces, grams, milliliters
- Addition of a new data field for import and export hazardous waste stream consent numbers
- Addition of new data elements for waste source codes, form codes and density, to facilitate submission of Biennial Report information
Comments of the manifest revisions can be sent to email@example.com and including a reference to Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OLEM–2018–0756. Or, comments can be submitted online
. Comments are due by April 8, 2019.
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NPDES Program and Application Revisions
In the February 12 Federal Register
, EPA finalized certain minor, generally clarifying revisions to the NPDES regulations initially proposed on May 18, 2016. The final regulatory changes improve and clarify regulations in the following major categories: Regulatory definitions (“new discharger'' and two definitions related to the discharge of pesticides from pesticides application); permit applications; and public notice.
The final regulatory changes also update the EPA's contact information and web addresses for electronic databases and outdated references to best management practices and delete a provision that is no longer applicable (40 CFR 125.3(a)(1)(ii), relating to best practicable waste treatment technology for publicly owned treatment works). As a result of this final rule, the NPDES regulations will promote submission of complete permit applications, contain modernized regulatory requirements to allow more timely development of NPDES permits that protect human health and the environment, and be clearer and more effective.
This final rule will go into effect on June 12, 2019.
EPA Wants Comments on its 2020-2023 National Compliance Initiatives
EPA focuses its enforcement and compliance resources on the most serious environmental violations by developing and implementing national program priorities, previously called National Enforcement Initiatives (NEIs). As part of EPA’s efforts to increase the environmental law compliance rate and reduce the average time from violation identification to correction, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance has adjusted and renamed the NEI program. The revised program is named the National Compliance Initiatives (NCI) program, a name that better conveys the overarching goal of increased compliance and the use of not only enforcement actions, but the full range of compliance assurance tools. The NCIs are in addition to EPA’s core enforcement work, including protecting clean and safe water, reducing air pollution, and protecting safe and healthy land.
In the transition from NEIs to NCIs, EPA has made these adjustments: modifying selection criteria for the FY2020–2023 NCI cycle to better align with Agency Strategic Plan
measures and priorities; engaging more fully with states and tribes in the selection and development of the initiatives; enhancing EPA’s use of the full range of compliance assurance tools in an NCI; and extending the priorities cycle from three to four years (FY2020–2023) to better to align with the Agency’s National Program Guide cycle.
The Agency’s 2017 – 2019 enforcement initiatives were:
- Reducing Air Pollution from the Largest Sources
- Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants
- Ensuring Energy Extraction Activities Comply with Environmental Laws
- Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities
- Reducing Hazardous Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities
- Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation’s Waters
- Keeping Industrial Pollutants Out of the Nation’s Waters
- Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants
- Reducing Hazardous Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities
- Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities
- National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Significant Non-Compliance (SNC) Reduction
- Ensuring Significant Sources of VOCs Comply with Environmental Laws
- Increase compliance with drinking water standards
- Reduce children’s exposure to lead
Comments may be submitted at regulations.gov
by referring to Docket Number EPA-HQ-OECA-2018- 0843.
EPA to Take Action on PFAS
EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced EPA’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan. This PFAS Action Plan responds to extensive public interest and input the agency has received over the past year and represents the first time EPA has built a multi-media, multi-program, national communication and research plan to address an emerging environmental challenge like PFAS. EPA’s Action Plan identifies both short-term solutions for addressing these chemicals and long-term strategies that will help provide the tools and technologies states, tribes, and local communities need to provide clean and safe drinking water to their residents and to address PFAS at the source—even before it gets into the water.
“The PFAS Action Plan is the most comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical of concern ever undertaken by EPA,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “For the first time in Agency history, we utilized all of our program offices to construct an all-encompassing plan to help states and local communities address PFAS and protect our nation’s drinking water. We are moving forward with several important actions, including the maximum contaminant level process, that will help affected communities better monitor, detect, and address PFAS.”
The Action Plan describes long- and short-term actions that the EPA is taking including:
- Drinking water: EPA is moving forward with the maximum contaminant level (MCL) process outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act for PFOA and PFOS—two of the most well-known and prevalent PFAS chemicals. By the end of this year, EPA will propose a regulatory determination, which is the next step in the Safe Drinking Water Act process for establishing an MCL.
- Clean up: EPA has already begun the regulatory development process for listing PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances and will issue interim groundwater cleanup recommendations for sites contaminated with PFOA and PFOS. This important work will provide additional tools to help states and communities address existing contamination and enhance the ability to hold responsible parties accountable.
- Enforcement: EPA will use available enforcement tools to address PFAS exposure in the environment and assist states in enforcement activities.
- Monitoring: EPA will propose to include PFAS in nationwide drinking water monitoring under the next Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Program. The agency will also consider PFAS chemicals for listing in the Toxics Release Inventory to help the agency identify where these chemicals are being released.
- Research: EPA will develop new analytical methods so that more PFAS chemicals can be detected in drinking water, in soil, and in groundwater. These efforts will improve our ability to monitor and assess potential risks. EPA’s research efforts also include developing new technologies and treatment options to remove PFAS from drinking water at contaminated sites.
- Risk Communications: EPA will work across the agency—and the federal government—to develop a PFAS risk communication toolbox that includes materials that states, tribes, and local partners can use to effectively communicate with the public.
- Together, these efforts will help EPA and its partners identify and better understand PFAS contaminants generally, clean up current PFAS contamination, prevent future contamination, and effectively communicate risk with the public. To implement the Action Plan, EPA will continue to work in close coordination with multiple entities, including other federal agencies, states, tribes, local governments, water utilities, industry, and the public.
The House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) released the following statement regarding EPA’s PFAS Management Plan, “while we applaud aspects of this plan that respond to demands by members who have been pushing to address dangerous PFAS contamination in their districts, ultimately this plan fails to meet the challenge our nation faces with this growing water contamination and health crisis. If EPA intends to drag its feet, Congress will have to step in and lead the fight to protect Americans from these dangerous chemicals.”
“This is an action plan with no action,” said Earthjustice attorney Suzanne Novak. “Interim Administrator Wheeler just released a long list of initiating steps that EPA should have been doing for the past few years, but no concrete actions. Meanwhile, PFAS are linked to chronic health issues, even death, and are highly unregulated despite a national emergency affecting entire towns.”
EPA’s Action Plan
does not include a commitment to set a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, two of the original PFAS
that manufacturers agree are dangerous. The plan states that short-term actions are expected to be completed within two years.
Drinking Water Guidelines in the US Vary Widely from State to State
In response to the growing problem of drinking water contaminated with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a new analysis shows that many states are establishing their own guideline levels for two types of PFAS--PFOA and PFOS--that differ from federal guidelines. The new study appears in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology
, which is published by Springer Nature. According to Alissa Cordner of Whitman College in the US, the study's lead author, the findings highlight the need for enforceable federal standards and more health protective limits on these contaminants in drinking water to safeguard the health of millions of people whose water supplies have been contaminated.
PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) are widely-used chemicals found in a range of products such as non-stick coatings, stain repellents, and firefighting foam. They have been in use since the 1950s. When it became clear the substances were linked to a variety of diseases, manufacturing of products containing PFOA and PFOS ceased in the US.
However, both contaminants are very persistent in the environment and the human body. They are also extremely mobile in the environment and so have contaminated drinking water supplies serving millions of Americans. Although the chemicals are no longer produced in the US, they are still used in many products manufactured outside the country. Companies have been replacing PFOS and PFOS with other PFAS substances, however studies show these replacement chemicals share many of the same chemical properties.
In this study, the research team identified state agencies that have guidelines regarding the levels of PFOA and PFOS chemicals that are allowed in drinking water without causing adverse health effects, and the remedial action to be taken if these contaminants are found in water sources. These guidelines were compared with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EAP) health advisories for the same chemicals.
As part of the assessment, Cordner and her colleagues at Silent Spring Institute and Northeastern University gathered information released in June 2018 by the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council. The researchers also sourced documents from state websites and contacted state environmental and health agencies.
Their analysis shows that seven states so far have adopted or proposed their own water guideline levels for PFOA and/or PFOS, and three states have set levels of the contaminants that are lower than those set by EPA. In some cases, states developed the guideline levels after specific incidents of contamination. The state water guideline levels also vary dramatically. While EPA has released a health advisory level of 70 nanograms per liter for PFOA and PFOS combined, state guideline levels for the two chemicals range from 13 nanograms per liter (in New Jersey) to 1,000 nanograms per liter (in North Carolina). Some states are also developing guildeline levels for other PFAS.
The researchers identified multiple scientific factors that influenced the guideline levels, including the choice of toxicological endpoints and assumptions about drinking water consumption. Social, economic and political pressures all influenced the establishment of guidelines by states, for instance in response to community concerns or discovery of contamination incidents.
"Assessments by multiple states and academic scientists suggest that EPA's health advisory for drinking water is not sufficiently protective," explains Cordner. Previous studies in children exposed to PFOS have shown effects on immune function at lower exposures than EPA's drinking water advisory levels. The most sensitive toxicological endpoints--altered mammary gland development and suppressed immune function--were not the basis for EPA's health advisories but were used by a small number of states.
"There are currently no federal drinking-water standards for PFOA and PFOS, despite widespread drinking water contamination, ubiquitous population-level exposure, and toxicological and epidemiological evidence linking it to various diseases. Because of this, public water entities are not required by law to routinely test whether contaminant levels in water exceed EPA's health advisory and state agencies are not empowered to enforce cleanup," she explains.
The researchers stress that lack of federal standards may create or exacerbate public health disparities because not all states have the resources to develop their own guideline levels or ensure cleanup of contaminated supplies.
Texas to Adopt Several Changes to Hazardous Waste Regulations
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has issued two Rulemaking Draft Concept and Initiation Memos indicating the Agency’s intent to adopt the following changes in the state’s rules in order to align with recent changes in the federal hazardous waste regulations:
- Redefinition of solid waste to encourage recycling of hazardous secondary materials
- Adoption of the EPA Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule
- Increase the hazardous waste generator fee and the industrial waste fee to the maximum amount allowed by State law
- Vacate exclusions for comparable fuels
- Codify list of coal combustion residuals exempt from hazardous waste regulation
- Revise rules for hazardous waste import sand exports
- Codify fees associated with the hazardous waste manifest
- Adopt an exemption to facilitate the proper disposal of recalled airbags
- Adopt new standards for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals
Electroplator Plead Guilty to Illegally Storing Hazardous Waste in Madison Heights, Michigan
Gary Alfred Sayers and his company, Electro-Plating Services Inc., both pleaded guilty in federal court in Detroit, Michigan, to illegally storing hazardous wastes at the company’s premises in Madison Heights, Michigan, in knowing violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Department of Justice and the EPA announced. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Sayers and Electro-Plating Services each pleaded guilty to a felony charge of illegally storing hazardous waste and will pay the EPA $1,444,510 for its direct costs to clean up the plating facility. The court will decide any term of incarceration and fine at sentencing.
According to the plea agreement, Sayers — who owns and has been the President of Electro-Plating Services from the late 1990s — used various dangerous chemicals in his electroplating business that became hazardous wastes when they no longer fulfilled their industrial purpose. Sayers almost never sent those wastes away for proper disposal, preferring to keep them on site indefinitely.
“Sayers’s knowing, illegal storage of waste cyanide, highly corrosive wastes, toxic chromium waste, and reactive wastes posed a significant danger and threat to nearby communities and the environment. He and his company continued their illegal and poor handling despite many years of warnings by environmental regulators, and they are now being held accountable for their willful refusal to comply with the law,” said Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“Illegal storing of hazardous waste is a danger not only to the environment but to communities as well,” stated United States Attorney Matthew Schneider. “The actions by this defendant showed a blatant disregard for the law. It is our hope that prosecutions such as this one will serve as a deterrent to others who seek to serve their own interests rather than the safety of the environment.”
“Hazardous wastes pose serious risks to the health of entire communities, so it’s imperative they be handled and disposed of safely and legally,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to the protection of public health and will continue to pursue those who blatantly undermine those efforts.”
According to the plea agreement, Sayers knew that such storage was illegal because he also managed the company’s former Detroit facility — where he kept hazardous wastes illegally until 2005 — and because the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) repeatedly sent him warnings. In 2005, Sayers was charged with and pleaded guilty to illegally transporting hazardous wastes. During the ensuing years, MDEQ attempted to get Sayers and Electro-Plating Services to properly manage the amounts of hazardous wastes piling up at the Madison Heights location. MDEQ issued numerous Letters of Warning and Violation Notices to the company regarding its hazardous wastes.
In 2016, MDEQ identified over 5,000 containers of liquid and solid wastes at the Madison Heights location. That same year, the City of Madison Heights revoked the company’s occupancy permit. In January 2017, EPA initiated a Superfund removal action, after determining that the nature and threats posed by the stored hazardous waste required a time-critical response. The cleanup was completed in January 2018.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 16, 2019.
Tank Vessel Operator Convicted and Sentenced for Oil Discharge Offense, Captain Indicted
Interorient Marine Services Limited, a vessel operating company, was convicted and sentenced in the Western District of Louisiana, for maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharge of oil from the tank vessel Ridgebury Alexandra Z, announced Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and United States Attorney David C. Joseph for the Western District of Louisiana.
Interorient Marine Services Limited admitted that oil cargo residues and oily bilge water were illegally dumped from the Ridgebury Alexandra Z directly into the ocean without being properly processed through required pollution prevention equipment. The company also admitted that false entries were made in the vessel’s Oil Record Book to conceal the illegal dumping. Specifically, senior ship officers employed by Interorient Marine Services Limited discharged oily waste into the ocean by flushing the vessel’s pollution prevention equipment sensor with fresh water. This flushing of the sensor tricked the system into detecting a much lower effluent oil content than what was actually being discharged. These senior officers then falsified the vessel’s Oil Record Book, recording that 87,705 gallons of oily wastewater had been discharged properly through the pollution prevention equipment, when in fact they knew that this pollution prevention equipment had been tampered with.
“By illegally dumping oily waste into the ocean, Interorient intentionally violated federal law that protects valuable marine resources and wildlife,” said Assistant Attorney General Clark. “This conviction shows that corporations and individuals that willfully flout our nation’s environmental laws will be held accountable by criminal prosecution.”
“My office is charged with enforcing federal and international laws designed to protect our oceans from pollutants carried by commercial vessels,” U.S. Attorney Joseph stated. “Tankers are required to offload their waste oil at disposal facilities at ports and not into the Gulf of Mexico. This case should serve as a deterrent to other individuals and companies that ignore our laws, pollute our waters, and damage our environment.”
“The Coast Guard takes its responsibilities to protect the marine environment seriously,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commander Daniel H. Cost, CO of Marine Safety Unite Lake Charles. “When potential criminal violations of our nation's pollution laws are identified, we work closely with the Department of Justice to ensure any illegal activities are prosecuted to the fullest extent of law.”
Interorient Marine Services Limited pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, 33 U.S.C. § 1908(a), for failing to accurately maintain the Ridgebury Alexandra Z’s Oil Record Book. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the company will pay a total fine of $2 million and serve a 4-year term of probation, during which all vessels operated by the company and calling on U.S. ports will be required to implement a robust Environmental Compliance Plan.
The vessel’s captain, Vjaceslavs Birzakovs, was charged in a six-count indictment by a Grand Jury in the Western District of Louisiana on November 29, 2018, for his involvement in this case. The indictment alleges that Birzakovs directed circumvention of the vessel’s pollution prevention equipment, falsified records, obstructed justice, made false statements, and conspired with other crewmembers to falsify the vessel’s Oil Record Book and to obstruct the U.S. Coast Guard’s enforcement of the law in conjunction with the illegal discharges from the Ridgebury Alexandra Z. The charges and allegations contained in Birzakovs’ indictment are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles, and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Stephen Da Ponte of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. McCoy of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana.
Missouri DNR Will Host Free Pesticide Pickups
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources will provide six free pesticide collection events in 2019.
Portageville – March 9
University of Missouri, Fisher Delta Research Center, 147 W. State Highway T, Portageville
Troy – April 6
Mordt Tractor and Equipment Company, 131 State Highway H, Troy
Mount Vernon – May 18
University of Missouri – Southwest Research Center, 14548 Highway H, Mount Vernon
Carrollton – June 29
Carrollton City Hall (parking lot behind), 206 W. Washington Ave., Carrollton
Ste. Genevieve – August 3
MFA Agri Services, 10940 Industrial Dr., Ste. Genevieve
Columbia – September 7
Missouri Soybean Association’s Bay Farm Research Facility, 5601 S. Rangeline Rd., Columbia
The collections are open to all Missouri farmers and households.
- Unwanted pesticides
- Fly tags
- Fertilizers containing pesticide
- Fire extinguishers
- Yard waste
- Pesticides from businesses, pesticide production facilities, pesticide distributors, pesticide retailers
DOT to Strengthen Oil Train Spill Response Preparedness
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), has issued a final rule
that requires railroads to develop and submit Comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plans for route segments traveled by High Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFTs). The rule applies to HHFTs that are transporting petroleum oil in a block of 20 or more loaded tank cars and trains that have a total of 35 loaded petroleum oil tank cars.
“This new rule will make the transport of energy products by railroad safer,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
revises the oil spill response plan requirements currently in place to require railroads to establish geographic response zones along various rail routes and ensure that both personnel and equipment are staged and prepared to respond in the event of an accident. Furthermore, railroads are required to identify the qualified individual responsible for each response zone, as well as the organization, personnel, and equipment capable of removing and mitigating a worst-case discharge. The rule also requires rail carriers to provide information about HHFTs to state and tribal emergency response commissions in accordance with the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015.
This final rule is effective 180 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.
DTSC Proposes Regulating Toxic Chemical in Nail Products
California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced that it is taking steps to promote safer alternatives to a toxic chemical found in many nail products.
Because of the danger it poses to nail salon workers and their customers, DTSC is proposing to list nail products containing the chemical toluene as a Priority Product under its Safer Consumer Products program. If adopted, the regulation would require manufacturers to look for alternatives to the chemical if they want to continue serving the California market.
“The industry has known for a long time that toluene is a problematic chemical in these products. Responsible manufacturers have moved away from it. We want to make sure that others do the same,” said Meredith Williams, acting director of DTSC. “At the same time, it’s important to make sure that any reformulated products are truly safer. A Priority Product listing ensures that manufacturers do a thorough analysis of these alternatives.”
Toluene is a solvent that can be harmful to people who breathe in its fumes. Extended exposure has been linked to nervous system damage and harm to the respiratory tract. Exposure in the workplace has also been associated with developmental effects, such as increased risk of low birthweight.
Nail salon workers are particularly at risk because they may be exposed to the chemical from multiple products over long work hours—sometimes in small, poorly ventilated workspaces. Studies show that toluene has been detected in salons at levels above California regulatory standards.
DTSC is concerned about the health impacts to the approximately 130,000 nail salon workers in California. Many of these workers are women of child-bearing age from low-income, Asian immigrant communities.
“This is a significant milestone for nail salon workers across the state,” said Julia Liou, chief deputy of Asian Health Services. “We applaud DTSC for taking leadership in protecting the health of nail salon workers who are predominantly immigrant women cumulatively exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis.”
“This intentional effort to spur safer nail care products for both workers and consumers in this industry is what is needed to tackle the underlying environmental and social injustices faced by the nail salon workforce,” she said.
Liou and Asian Health Services established the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative in 2005 after discovering that nail salon workers were experiencing an epidemic of health problems, including asthma, chronic rashes and miscarriages.
“We appreciate DTSC driving the development and use of safer chemicals and safer nail products starting with toluene,” said Catherine Porter, policy director for the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative. “We hope nail salons across California become healthier places to work as research on safer alternative chemicals in nail products continues.”
As a first step toward listing toluene, DTSC is releasing a draft technical report that outlines the scientific basis for the proposal, and inviting comment from stakeholders and the public. On March 13, DTSC will host a public workshop to receive comments. The technical report will be updated based on this input and then submitted to an independent scientific review panel.
This proposal is the latest effort by DTSC to protect salon workers and their customers from toxic chemicals associated with nail salons. In 2012, DTSC, in collaboration with the city of San Francisco, released a study that found many nail products contained hazardous chemicals even though their labels claimed otherwise. In 2018, the Department helped develop the Healthy Nail Salon Recognition program, which encourages salon owners to create safer work environments. Click here for more information and to view the technical report.
Toluene in nail products becomes DTSC’s latest proposed Priority Product under its Safer Consumer Products regulation. Click here to learn more about the Safer Consumer Products program.
Road Salts Could Endanger Ecosystems, Water Supplies
Lakes, rivers and some private wells are becoming saltier, largely thanks to high levels of road salt sprinkled on streets during winter. According to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN)
, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, this situation could cause harm to wildlife and humans.
Contributing editor Deirdre Lockwood notes that scientists have found greatly increased amounts of chloride in streams, lakes and rivers over the last few decades. One of the biggest culprits is salt that’s deposited onto roads before and during snowstorms. The amount used in the U.S. has grown dramatically from about 4,500 metric tons in the early 1940s to 22 million metric tons now. But salt also comes from sewage, fertilizer runoff, mining operations and deteriorating structures. Not only does all of this salt makes water taste bad, it can corrode plumbing and cause health concerns. It also can affect freshwater organisms and disrupt ecosystems.
Some scientists are calling for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to start regulating salts. Others are simply trying to bring more attention to this issue. And some municipalities are already implementing changes. In Madison, Wisconsin, crews apply brine, about a 20 percent salt water solution, onto roads before a snowstorm hits. With this approach, they have used about 70 percent less road salt. And the village of Lake George, New York, has reduced road salt application by about 30 percent with brine treatment and new, more effective snow plows.
Seattle Metal Recycler Fined $98,000 for Pollution Discharges to Duwamish River
A company on the Duwamish River that recovers metal from cars and other machinery continued to discharge excessive levels of zinc, copper, lead, and other pollutants into the waterway over the past two years.
The Washington Department of Ecology has fined
Seattle Iron and Metals Corp. (Seattle Iron) $98,000, for violations in 2017 and 2018. The company violated limits on pollutant discharges into the river dozens of times, and failed to maintain facilities that protect the waterway from untreated stormwater.
“Seattle Iron and Metals’ pattern of repeated violations is unacceptable,” said Heather Bartlett, who manages Ecology’s Water Quality Program. “They must get their treatment system to perform as required, because it’s critical to protect the Duwamish and Puget Sound from pollutants that are toxic to fish and other marine life.”
Under an Ecology water quality permit, the facility at 601 South Myrtle St operates a treatment system to remove pollutants from stormwater that drains from 8.6 acres of the property before discharging treated water into the river.
Monitoring conducted by Seattle Iron as part of their permit showed the company discharged zinc, copper, lead, petroleum compounds, or fine particles at levels above the limits 43 times in 2017 and 2018. The pollutants are byproducts of converting old cars and appliances to usable metals.
Meanwhile, Ecology observed other violations in a late 2017 inspection, including:
- Dark-colored water discharging from the treatment system into the Duwamish.
- Holes in docks where fluids and pieces of scrap could fall into the water.
- Polluted stormwater flowing to the river because drains and curbs needed maintenance.
Ecology ordered Seattle Iron to immediately correct these violations. In response, the company has:
- Hired consultants to assess the treatment system, made upgrades to its filtration process, and hired full time staff to operate and maintain it.
- Stopped using one of its two docks, made deck repairs to the other, and applied for city permits to renovate both.
- Caught up with storm drain maintenance so the water flows into the facility’s stormwater treatment system.
The company also has updated a required plan for keeping pollution out of stormwater and to ensure proper operation and maintenance of its stormwater drainage and treatment systems. In addition, they have painted metallic roofs and siding to prevent the leaching of metals into stormwater.
Seattle Iron paid Ecology $64,000 and $16,000 for penalties issued in 2017 and 2014, respectively, for similar violations at the facility.
The company issued the following statement: “Seattle Iron & Metals Corp. takes environmental compliance very seriously. Many concerns have already been addressed and the company will continue in its commitment to achieve full compliance as expeditiously as possible.”
The Lower Duwamish Waterway
is listed as a federal Superfund site due to sediment contamination from PCBs and other compounds. Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency co-manage the cleanup of the 5-mile site. Ecology’s water quality compliance efforts support that cleanup by helping to control sources of pollutants to the river.
Ecology water quality penalties go to the state’s Coastal Protection Fund which issues grants to public agencies and tribes for water quality restoration projects. The penalty may be appealed to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board
Northwest Stove Supplier Cited for Sale of Uncertified Wood Stoves
EPA has reached a settlement agreement with Keller Supply Company to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act. The Seattle-based company sells wood stoves and heaters in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The company has agreed to pay a $8,250 penalty for selling five uncertified residential wood stoves in Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington.
“Selling and using uncertified wood stoves can worsen wintertime air pollution and cause unhealthy and even hazardous air quality conditions in a community,” said EPA Pacific Northwest Enforcement and Compliance Director Edward Kowalski. “Companies that sell wood stoves and wood heaters have the responsibility to ensure they are offering EPA-certified wood stoves to their customers.”
The federal Clean Air Act prohibits the sale of wood stoves or wood heaters that are not EPA-certified. EPA alleges that in 2016 and 2017, Keller sold five uncertified wood stoves in California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. When notified of its violations, Keller contacted its customers and recovered all but one stove.
Residential wood stoves and wood heaters contribute significantly to particulate air pollution. EPA has regulated wood heater particulate emissions since 1988. EPA's certification process requires manufacturers to verify that each of their wood heater model lines meet a specific particulate emission limit by undergoing emission testing at an EPA accredited laboratory. EPA-certified wood stoves are cleaner burning and more efficient than a typical uncertified wood stove.
The biggest health threat from wood smoke is from fine particles that can get deep into the respiratory system. Fine particles can make asthma symptoms worse, trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks or stroke, especially in people who are already at risk for these conditions.
In many communities, wood heating is the largest source of fine particle pollution during winter when stable, stagnant weather conditions trap wood smoke closer to the ground. Five communities in Idaho, Oregon and Alaska are classified as air quality non-attainment areas due to severe wintertime wood smoke air pollution. These communities are working to reduce smoke pollution with wood stove changeouts that replace older, non-compliant stoves with EPA-certified stoves. Sales and use of uncertified wood stoves by companies make it harder to achieve good air quality in these areas.
Find more information about wood stoves, wood smoke and other resources at EPA Burn Wise
Senate Passes Bipartisan Wildlife Conservation Legislation
U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and committee ranking member Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), praised the Senate’s passage of the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver (WILD) Act.
The WILD Act in its entirety was included in S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act, which passed the Senate by a vote of 92 to 8. Barrasso and Carper worked to have the legislation included in the Natural Resources Management Act.
“The WILD Act will help support wildlife conservation, address invasive species, and protect some of the world’s rarest and most beloved animals,” said Barrasso. “The bipartisan WILD Act boosts innovative efforts to protect wildlife and will help combat poaching worldwide. The House of Representatives should pass the measure quickly."
“Last night, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the Natural Resources Management Act,” said Carper. “Among other conservation priorities, this legislation includes the WILD Act, a bipartisan bill that will provide new tools to enhance efforts to protect endangered species, prevent poaching and curb wildlife trafficking. Now, all eyes are on the House to help us bring the WILD Act to the president’s desk, and help make the United States a global leader on conservation.”
Barrasso and Carper introduced
the legislation. The WILD Act is also cosponsored by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The bill passed
the EPW committee by voice vote on February 5, 2019.
The WILD Act will promote wildlife conservation, assist in the management of invasive species, and help protect endangered species. The bipartisan legislation will reauthorize government conservation programs. It will also establish prize competitions to prevent illegal poaching and trafficking, manage invasives, promote conservation, and protect endangered wildlife. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Don Young (AK-1).
Specifically, the WILD Act will:
- Reauthorize and fund the Department of the Interior’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program until fiscal year 2023;
- Require federal agencies to implement strategic programs to control invasive species;
- Reauthorize legislation to protect imperiled species such as elephants, great apes, turtles, tigers, and others until fiscal year 2023;
- Establish monetary-prize competitions for technological innovation in the following categories:
- the prevention of wildlife poaching and trafficking;
- the promotion of wildlife conservation;
- the management of invasive species;
- the non-lethal management of human-wildlife conflicts; and
- the protection of endangered species.
To view full text of the legislation, click here
Oregon DEQ issued16 Penalties for Environmental Violations in January
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued 16 penalties totaling $485,196 for various environmental violations in January 2019. A detailed list of violations and resulting penalties is at: https://go.usa.gov/xEQJn
Fines ranged from $5,100 to $260,900. Alleged violations included polluting waterways, improperly storing hazardous materials, failing to follow permit requirements for air quality and water quality monitoring and more.
Alleged violations by category and location
- Water quality: 10 fines for violations in Clackamas, Clatskanie, Cloverdale, Fairview, Forest Grove Milwaukie, Portland
- Air quality: One fine for violations in Medford
- Solid waste, hazardous waste, asbestos: Five fines for violations in Albany, Clackamas, Salem, Portland
DEQ issued civil penalties against the following organizations and individuals:
- 3307 SE 92nd LLC, $22,400, Portland (asbestos violations)
- Alpenrose Dairy Inc., $10,023, Portland (water quality violations)
- Buffalo Welding Inc., $11,805 Milwaukie (water quality violations)
- Edward Charles Bergman, $8,873, Clatskanie (water quality violations)
- Columbia Two Inc., $8,641, Portland (water quality violations)
- City of Forest Grove, $8,400 (water quality violations)
- Jameson Partners, $12,470, Portland (water quality violations)
- Darcy Jones, $7,121, Cloverdale (water quality violations)
- Safety-Kleen Systems, $260,900, Clackamas (hazardous, asbestos and solid waste)
- TDY Industries, $6,300, Albany (hazardous waste)
- Timber Products Co., $14,423, Medford (air quality violations)
- Viscounte Construction LLC, Portland, $32,000 (asbestos violations)
- West Coast Home Solutions LLC, $56,452 Fairview (water quality violations)
- Wilbur-Ellis Feed LLC, $10,012, Clackamas (water quality violations)
- Willamette University, $5,100, Salem (hazardous waste)
- Yoshida Foods International LLC, $10,276, Portland (water quality violations)
Organizations or individuals must either pay the fines or file an appeal within 20 days or receiving notice of the penalty. They may also be able to offset a portion of a penalty by funding a supplemental environmental project that improves Oregon’s environment.
Penalties may also include orders requiring specific tasks to prevent ongoing violations or additional environmental harm.
EPA Tools Help Decision-Makers Deal with Waste Resulting from Major Natural Disasters
Following a natural disaster, communities can face an unexpected challenge: what to do with the tons of waste and debris left behind. To help manage waste after disasters, EPA researchers and partners developed a suite of tools
to assist in both urban and rural waste management planning and emergency response. Tools include the Incident Waste Assessment & Tonnage Estimator (I-WASTE) and the Municipal Solid Waste Decision Support Tool (MSW DST). These web-based tools can assist in appropriate strategies to improve community resiliency after a natural disaster.
Environmental News Links
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