Nationwide Recall of 500,000 Heavy-Duty Trucks

August 06, 2018
EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced that 500,000 heavy-duty trucks manufactured by Cummins Inc. will be recalled due to excess emissions caused by defective catalysts. This recall is the largest voluntary truck emissions recall to date. Cummins worked collaboratively with CARB on the voluntary recall.
The excess emissions were discovered after CARB launched its new Heavy Duty In-Use Compliance program in 2016. The Cummins action marks the first major recall resulting from the program, in which subject vehicles are equipped with Portable Emissions Measurement Systems (PEMS) to measure truck emissions while operating on streets and highways under typical operating demands and conditions.
As CARB has done with light-duty vehicles (cars and pickups) for decades, it initiated a program in 2016 to bring private fleet-owned or rental trucks that had been operating for several years for testing. Initial readings of some of the Cummins engines revealed higher than expected emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX), a smog-forming pollutant. This led to more comprehensive testing by CARB.
The testing confirmed that the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems were defective, causing emissions of NOX to exceed state and Federal standards. The same problem was found to affect about 60 engine families under the Cummins name found in a wide range of vehicles, from big-rigs, to larger pickup trucks and some buses. An engine family is the basic unit that CARB and EPA use to identify a group of vehicles or engines for certification and compliance purposes.
“Increased vigilance and testing led directly to a positive result. Our new heavy-duty in-use compliance program ensures that heavy-duty and other trucks already in operation meet the required emissions standards both in the lab and on the road,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Our portable testing equipment tells us exactly how clean a truck is when it’s actually operating in the real world: pulling a full load and driving on roads and through neighborhoods where people live.”
After CARB shared the initial findings with Cummins, the company conducted its own testing to confirm the failures and agreed to institute a voluntary recall, ultimately affecting more than 800,000 vehicles, to replace the catalysts. This number includes about 232,000 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 vehicles with Cummins engines that had the same SCR defect. Recalls for those vehicles were approved in July 2016 and July 2017, respectively, and are already underway.
The trucks will be recalled in a two-phase operation. Starting in August 2018, owners of the 500,000-plus affected vehicles will receive letters with instructions on how to get their catalysts replaced or receive reimbursement for the cost of the replacement. The second phase begins in March 2019. Replacing the catalyst is required for vehicle owners to renew their California DMV registration on most engine families.
It is noteworthy that the cause of the excess emissions was purely mechanical—the faster-than-expected degradation of the catalyst—and not the product of a ‘defeat device’ or cheating on tests as was the case with 2009–2015 Volkswagen 2 and 3—liter diesel-powered passenger cars and SUVs. The degrading catalysts also do not pose a safety issue, and do not affect current model year Cummins engine families.
CARB’s in-use testing of the vehicles played a key role in identifying the problem. Once Cummins was made aware of the issue, they cooperated with CARB and EPA and agreed to recall the full range of engine families, pay for all required repairs and reimburse owners who may have already paid for an SCR replacement.
“CARB plans to continue testing vehicles produced by other manufacturers to ensure California gets the emission reductions it needs so that all people have healthy air to breathe,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard W. Corey.
Following the recall, CARB and EPA will work together to ensure that the affected vehicles will meet all emissions standards.
For information on EPA’s voluntary recall program:
Hazardous Waste 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 at nationwide locations, and 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 a new Amazon Fire HD10 tablet at no extra charge.
Revised Petroleum Storage Tank Rules in Texas
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has adopted rules incorporating changes from EPA’s 2015 revisions to federal petroleum storage tanks (PST) rules. The rule revisions include:
  • Periodic operation and maintenance requirements for underground storage tanks (UST) systems to conduct walk through inspections and test UST system components
  • Requirements to ensure UST system compatibility before storing certain biofuel blends
  • New requirements to annually test specific release-detection equipment
  • Changes to comply with existing EPA release-detection requirements to monitor at least every 30 days (instead of every 35 days) and
  • Minor rule revisions relating to the fee on delivery of petroleum products to reflect changes that were statutorily implemented in the Texas Water Code in 2015
TCEQ has recently developed a rule summary to help aid the regulated community in compliance. For more information on requirements for PSTs, visit TCEQ’s Small Business & Local Government Assistance Program’s compliance resources page.
Metal Recycler Fined $170K for Hazardous Waste Violations
The Los Angeles County Superior Court entered a stipulated judgment resolving the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) investigation and 2017 complaint alleging Advanced Steel Recovery Inc. (ASR) violated California’s hazardous waste laws.
Under the terms of the court-approved settlement, ASR will pay $170,000. In its investigation, DTSC concluded that ASR, a metal recycler located in Fontana (San Bernardino County), generated multiple piles of contaminated soil that exceeded regulatory hazardous waste limits for various heavy metals, including lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and zinc. Because the soil was uncontained throughout ASR’s facility, wind or rain could have caused the contaminated soil to migrate offsite.
ASR’s business is to recover steel from consumer goods and other products. ASR allegedly mishandled items it received that contain hazardous waste, including clothes dryers, refrigerators, and compressed cylinders and other items that require special handling. By allegedly mishandling these items, ASR may have released hazardous materials into the environment. Some of the items, for example, were left in scrap piles where they were susceptible to crushing. DTSC determined that some compressed gas cylinders on ASR’s property had been stored there for more than a year, while others were transported to an unauthorized facility.
These actions violated the state’s Hazardous Waste Control Law and risked harm to human health and the environment. In addition to the monetary payment, the stipulated judgment requires ASR to comply with applicable state laws in the future or face further civil penalties. As specified in the judgment, these requirements focus on, among other things, the proper handling of soil, compressed gas cylinders and major appliances, providing proper training to employees, and properly managing universal waste.
Washington State Progress on Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule
The Department of Ecology has proposed to amend Chapter 173-303 WAC, Dangerous Waste Regulations to incorporate several new federal hazardous waste rules. The proposed changes in the dangerous waste regulations will affect most dangerous waste generators. These changes may affect how generators manage their dangerous waste, add regulations for pharmaceutical waste, solvent-contaminated wipes, recycling of dangerous waste, and dangerous waste import and export. The Department will also restructure the regulations for easier use and improved compliance.
Ecology is close to opening the formal comment period on proposed rule language. The Agency’s comment’s on informal responses to the proposed rule were recently published.
The schedule for the next steps in the rule revision process are:
What Happens
Proposed rule filed with Code Reviser. Official comment period begins
Early August 2018
Public hearings-webinar and in-person format
September 2018
Comment period closes
October 2018
Rule adopted
January 2019
Rule effective
February 2019
10 Health and Medical Organizations Strongly Oppose Plan to Revoke Cleaner Cars Standards
In response to a proposal from EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to weaken the 2021–2026 vehicle emissions and mileage requirements and withdraw the waiver that permits California to set more protective cleaner cars standards, the American Lung Association, Allergy & Asthma Network, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, American Public Health Association, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Center for Climate Change and Health, Children’s Environmental Health Network, Health Care Without Harm, National Association of County and City Health Officials and National Environmental Health Association issued the following statement:
EPA conducted a substantial review and public comment period in 2016 and found that the 2022–2025 vehicle emissions requirements were appropriate and that auto manufacturers can meet them. A recent American Lung Association poll showed that nearly seven in 10 voters want the Administration to leave current vehicle standards in place.
Today’s announcement reaches beyond efforts to weaken cleaner cars standards at the federal level—it also threatens states’ right to limit dangerous vehicle pollution and take more aggressive steps to protect their residents. This action hampers not only California’s ability to protect the health of its citizens, but also that of a dozen other states that have driven nationwide progress in reducing tailpipe pollution, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Our organizations will fully participate in the rulemaking process and will urge the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration not to weaken fair and safe vehicle pollution limits that have proven successful in reducing pollution in the air we breathe.
States Pledge to Sue Over EPA Rollback of Clean Car Rule
New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood announced her intent to challenge the Trump administration’s plan to roll back federal limits on tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks, if the proposed rule is finalized.
Attorney General Underwood—part of a coalition of 20 Attorneys General—released the following joint statement. The coalition includes every state attorney general from jurisdictions that have adopted California’s more stringent standards to reduce vehicle emissions, improve miles/gallon, and save drivers money on gas.
“Federal rules to limit tailpipe pollution and improve fuel economy are our best strategy to reduce carbon pollution, improve air quality, and save drivers money on gas. The Administration’s proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump. If adopted, the EPA’s and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s rollbacks will cost American drivers hundreds of billions of dollars. Freezing or weakening these standards puts the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk, and increases the rising costs of climate change for our states. This decision upends decades of cooperative state and federal action to protect our residents. We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”
The pledge was signed by: New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, Delaware Attorney General Matthew Denn, Hawaii Attorney General Russell Suzuki, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine
Globally, the transportation sector is the fastest growing source of dangerous greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the transportation sector has surpassed the electric power sector and is now the nation’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions. Cars and light duty trucks make up 60% of the country’s transportation sector and are the main driver of U.S. dependence on oil, including foreign imports.
Beginning in 2010, EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the California Air Resources Board agreed to establish a single national program to limit GHG emissions from model year 2012–2025 vehicles. This program allows automakers to design and manufacture vehicles that will comply with tailpipe standards in all states.
The current federal standards for model year 2022–2025 vehicles are estimated to:
  • Reduce GHG emissions by 540 million metric tons
  • Remove the equivalent of 422 million cars from the road and
  • Save drivers $1,650 per vehicle
If enacted, EPA’s proposal to freeze the emissions standards at 2020 levels would:
  • Reduce average fuel economy from an estimated 46.8 miles per gallon in model year 2026 vehicles to 37 miles per gallon
  • Increase the country’s oil consumption by 5.3 to 11.9 million gallons per day in 2025
  • Result in 16 to 37 million metric tons more carbon pollution in 2025 and
  • Cost Americans roughly $193 billion to $236 billion more at the pump through 2035
In January 2017, EPA determined, in its “midterm evaluation,” that the 2022–2025 standards are readily achievable by the auto industry. After an extensive technical review, based in significant part on information from industry, advocates, and other interested parties, EPA found that “automakers are well positioned to meet the standards at lower costs than previous estimated.” However, in April, EPA arbitrarily reversed course and claimed that the GHG emissions standards for model years 2022–2025 vehicles should be scrapped. The Administration offered no evidence other than a meager record of self-serving industry analysis to support this decision and deferred further analysis to a forthcoming rulemaking.
A coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia—who together represent 44% of the U.S population and 43% of the national new car sales market—sued the agency over its decision to withdraw the agency’s evaluation supporting the standards, based on the fact that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, failed to follow its own Clean Car regulations, and violated the Clean Air Act.
In its draft rule, EPA not only proposes to freeze federal emissions standards at 2020 levels but also threatens the authority of states to enforce stronger standards to protect residents. The Clean Air Act authorizes California to adopt emission standards that are more stringent than the federal standards and other states are authorized to adopt those same standards for new motor vehicles sold within their states. California’s standards have a huge impact and are vitally important to public health for millions of Americans. The proposed rule would eliminate the California standard, subjecting every state to less efficient and dirtier standards.
The states that follow California’s standards are home to 74 million people, or approximately one-quarter of the country’s population. These states consume more than 28 billion gallons of gas annually, approximately one-fifth of the national total. If EPA succeeds in rescinding the authority of California and the states that follow its standards, the drivers in all those states stand to pay approximately $65 to $80 billion more in gasoline costs through 2035 than if those states retain their authority to enforce the current California standards.
California to Fight Rollback of Auto Emission Standards
California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary D. Nichols expressed their strong opposition to the proposed rule from the Trump Administration that would eviscerate the current GHG emission standards for model year 2021–2026 vehicles and put in place weakened emission and fuel efficiency standards at the expense of public health, the economy and the environment.
Instead of adopting maximum feasible standards to increase vehicle fuel efficiency, as federal law requires, the Administration is moving to freeze the standards at the 2020 level through model year 2026. Similarly, rather than addressing the pressing threat of climate change as the Clean Air Act mandates, the Administration is moving to freeze GHG emissions standards for vehicles for those same years.
If enacted, this proposal will cost consumers billions of dollars in additional gasoline to run less efficient cars and light-duty trucks. It will also degrade air quality and put millions of additional tons of climate-disrupting pollution into the atmosphere. The Trump Administration is also proposing to withdraw the waiver granted to California more than five years ago for the State’s own GHG emissions standards and its successful zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) programs—an unprecedented and unlawful action that flies in the face of congressional intent and would aggravate the harms to consumers, public health, and the environment caused by the weakening of the federal standards. The Administration proposal would also block the many other states that use California standards from moving forward.
“For Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere,” said Governor Brown. “Under his reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air. California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”
“The Trump Administration has launched a brazen and unlawful attack on our nation’s Clean Car Standards. The California Department of Justice will use every legal tool at its disposal to fight back,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Our nation’s Clean Car Standards save consumers thousands of dollars, protect our families’ health, and ensure that we continue tackling climate change, the most important global environmental issue of our time. We are ready to do what is necessary to hold this Administration accountable.”
“At first glance, this proposal completely misrepresents costs and savings. It also relies on bizarre assumptions about consumer behavior to make its case on safety,” said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols. “CARB will examine all 978 pages of fine print to figure out how the Administration can possibly justify its absurd conclusion that weakening standards to allow dirtier, less efficient vehicles will actually save lives and money. Stay tuned for further comment. Meantime, California remains fully committed to a rigorous 50-state program with a full range of vehicle choices. That program is in effect right now and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”
In 2010, the EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), CARB, and car manufacturers established a unified national program harmonizing GHG emission standards and fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, and in 2012 the agencies extended the national program to model years 2017–2025 vehicles. As part of the program, California and the federal agencies agreed to undertake a mid-term evaluation to determine if the GHG emission standards for model years 2022–2025 vehicles should be maintained or revised.
In January 2017, the EPA completed the mid-term evaluation by issuing a final determination, affirming that the existing standards were appropriate and would not be changed. The EPA arrived at this conclusion based on an extensive record it developed in conjunction with CARB. CARB confirmed in March 2017 that the agreed-upon standards for model years 2022–2025 were appropriate and feasible.
On April 13, 2018, however, the Trump Administration took the first step toward dismantling the national program when it issued a revised final determination that alleged the federal GHG standards for model year 2022–2025 vehicles were no longer appropriate. The Administration failed to provide any appropriate or relevant evidence for its arbitrary and capricious revision of its previous mid-term evaluation. Leading a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia, Governor Brown, Attorney General Becerra, and CARB sued the EPA on May 1, 2018 over the EPA’s April 13th action.
At present, the car industry is on track to meet or exceed the clean car standards at issue.
The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) preserves California’s authority to set its own stricter-than-federal vehicle emissions regulations to address the State’s extraordinary air quality challenges and because it had vehicle air quality regulations on its books predating the CAA and EPA. Since then, CARB has adopted, implemented, and enforced a wide array of nation-leading air pollution controls, based on a strong foundation of science and reflecting a longstanding partnership with federal air quality regulators. Its pollution control strategies have proven to be a model for other states, the nation, and other countries.
The ability of other states to adopt California standards, as long as they are as or more stringent than federal standards, is written into the CAA Section 177.
Oregon to Launch EV Rebate Program
The Oregon Supreme Court published its opinion to allow the use of the privilege tax to fund the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program.
The Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program was designed to provide incentives for more Oregonians to purchase or lease electric vehicles. The rebates are funded by a tax imposed on car dealers for the privilege of selling motor vehicles.
“The Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program will help improve public health by reducing vehicle emissions. DEQ has an opportunity to provide an incentive for Oregonians to contribute to a more sustainable future,” said DEQ Air Administrator Ali Mirzakhalili. DEQ will be moving to implement the rebate program as quickly as possible and will be providing updates as we prepare and launch the full rebate application.
Researchers Use Coal Waste to Create Sustainable Concrete
Washington State University researchers have created a sustainable alternative to traditional concrete using coal fly ash, a waste product of coal-based electricity generation.
The advance tackles two major environmental problems at once by making use of coal production waste and by significantly reducing the environmental impact of concrete production.
Xianming Shi, associate professor in WSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and graduate student Gang Xu, have developed a strong, durable concrete that uses fly ash as a binder and eliminates the use of environmentally intensive cement. They reported on their work in the August issue of the journal, Fuel.
Production of traditional concrete, which is made by combining cement with sand and gravel, contributes between 5–8% of GHG emissions worldwide. That’s because cement, the key ingredient in concrete, requires high temperatures and a tremendous amount of energy to produce.
Fly ash, the material that remains after coal dust is burned, meanwhile has become a significant waste management issue in the United States. More than 50% of fly ash ends up in landfills, where it can easily leach into the nearby environment.
While some researchers have used fly ash in concrete, they haven’t been able to eliminate the intense heating methods that are traditionally needed to make a strong material.
“Our production method does not require heating or the use of any cement,” said Xu.
This work is also significant because the researchers are using nano-sized materials to engineer concrete at the molecular level.
“To sustainably advance the construction industry, we need to utilize the ‘bottom-up’ capability of nanomaterials,” said Shi.
The team used graphene oxide, a recently discovered nanomaterial, to manipulate the reaction of fly ash with water and turn the activated fly ash into a strong cement-like material. The graphene oxide rearranges atoms and molecules in a solution of fly ash and chemical activators like sodium silicate and calcium oxide. The process creates a calcium-aluminate-silicate-hydrate molecule chain with strongly bonded atoms that form an inorganic polymer network more durable than (hydrated) cement.
The team designed the fly ash concrete to be pervious, which means water can pass through it to replenish groundwater and to mitigate flooding potential. Researchers have demonstrated the strength and behavior of the material in test plots on the WSU campus under a variety of load and temperature conditions. They are still conducting infiltration tests and gathering data using sensors buried under the concrete. They eventually hope to commercialize the patented technology.
“After further testing, we would like to build some structures with this concrete to serve as a proof of concept,” said Xu.
The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers and the WSU.
ServiceMaster Fined for Asbestos Violations
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has fined ServiceMaster of Salem $3,833 for failing to have an accredited inspector survey a building for material containing asbestos before a renovation.
The violation occurred in April 2018 at Prince of Peace Church in Salem, OR. DEQ requires such surveys to ensure that all asbestos is found and properly managed.
While technicians took some samples, state law requires a full survey by an accredited inspector. Asbestos fibers are proven to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. There is no known safe level of exposure.
The company has appealed the penalty.
Pliska Investments Fined for Wastewater Violations
The Oregon DEQ has fined Pliska Investments $3,900 for violating the terms of its wastewater permit for the Space Age Travel Center off Highway 207 in Hermiston, OR. The company violated the permit’s nitrate-nitrogen and total nitrogen limits for its septic system 22 times between June 2015 and March 2018. DEQ also cited the company without penalty for a number of other violations related to reporting and monitoring.
The company’s permit sets strict limits on nitrogen discharges and exceeding those limits can pose a threat to human health and the environment. The facility is in the Lower Umatilla Groundwater Management Area, which has high concentrations of nitrate-nitrogen in the groundwater. The high levels are from a variety of sources including septic drain fields and agriculture. Groundwater contaminated with nitrate-nitrogen can cause harmful algal blooms when it reaches surface water. It is also a health concern when used for drinking water.
DEQ is requiring the company to develop and implement a corrective action plan to lower nitrogen levels in its wastewater. The company has until August 14 to appeal the fine.
Town Fined for Illegal Asbestos Work
Town Fair Tire Centers of Massachusetts LLC (Town Fair Tire) will pay $81,000 in penalties to settle allegations that its employees illegally removed and disposed of asbestos-containing material during the expansion of the company’s Springfield store, Attorney General Maura Healey has announced.
The complaint and consent judgment, entered Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court, settles a lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office that alleges Town Fair Tire violated the state’s clean air and solid waste management laws by unlawfully removing asbestos-containing insulation while renovating the company’s store on Boston Road in Springfield.
“Shoddy and unlicensed asbestos removal endangers workers and the public,” said AG Healey. “Our office enforces the law to protect residents from the serious health risks of asbestos.”
“Asbestos contained in thermal system insulation presents a significant risk to the health of workers and the general public,” said Michael Gorski, director of the Springfield regional office of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “We will continue to work with the Attorney General’s Office to pursue asbestos violations such as those presented by this case.”
The AG’s complaint alleges that Town Fair Tire employees removed asbestos-containing insulation from HVAC pipes and a boiler during the company’s store expansion in 2016 and disposed of the asbestos-containing material in unsecured commercial waste dumpsters behind the store. According to the complaint, Town Fair Tire employees left the asbestos-containing material in and around the dumpsters for approximately two months. The asbestos waste was later removed by a licensed asbestos contractor.
Under the terms of the settlement, Town Fair Tire paid $81,000 in penalties to the state and will publish notifications in the New England Real Estate Journal to inform the public about the need to strictly follow the state’s requirements for asbestos abatement projects to protect the public and workers from the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in a wide variety of building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. If asbestos is improperly handled or maintained, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, potentially resulting in life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs for which there is no known effective treatment. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin membranes of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart, that may not develop until many years after exposure, and that has no known cure, although treatment methods are available to address the effects of the disease.
AG Healey has made asbestos safety a priority, as part of the office’s “Healthy Buildings, Healthy Air” Initiative, announced in March 2017, which seeks to better protect the health of children, families, and workers in Massachusetts from health risks posed by asbestos. Since September 2016, the AG’s Office, with the assistance of MassDEP, has successfully brought asbestos enforcement cases that together have resulted in more than $2.2 million in civil penalties.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg, of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from MassDEP Environmental Analyst John Moriarty and Chief Regional Counsel Christine LeBel, both from MassDEP’s Western Regional Office.
For more information on asbestos and asbestos-related work, visit MassDEP’s website outlining asbestos construction and demolition notification requirements.
NJ Files First New Lawsuits Seeking Damages for Harm to Natural Resources in Ten Years
Calling it a “new day” for environmental enforcement in New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe have announced the filing of six separate lawsuits aimed at recovering damages for the harm caused by pollution to properties, groundwater, and waterways across the state, and to recover the costs the State has paid in conducting environmental clean-ups.
In three of the six cases, the State of New Jersey is seeking payment for damages to the State’s natural resources, known as “Natural Resource Damage” cases, or NRDs. Until this case, the State had not initiated a new NRD case since 2008. These cases, which in the past have been worth millions of dollars, involve claims for the loss to the value and use of natural resources, including surface and ground water, sediments, and wetlands. And three cases involve efforts by the State of New Jersey to recover taxpayer money that was spent addressing contamination and are known as “cost recovery cases.” These lawsuits seek compensation from the parties responsible for pollution at each site.
Acting Governor Sheila Oliver praised the renewed focus on enforcing New Jersey’s environmental laws. “For years, companies have failed to act responsibly, endangering the health of New Jersey and its citizens,” said Acting Governor Oliver. “Today we are sending a clear message that we will do everything in our power to hold these companies accountable and protect New Jerseyans. By taking necessary legal action, New Jersey continues to bolster its reputation as a national champion for the environment and staunch defender of public health.”
“This is the largest single-day environmental enforcement action in New Jersey in at least a decade,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Today is just the beginning. We are going to hold polluters accountable—no matter how big, no matter how powerful, no matter how long they’ve been getting away with it. And we’re sending a message to every company across the state: if you pollute our natural resources, we are going to make you pay.”
“Natural resource damage cases are an important way that we protect New Jersey’s environment. They are a primary mechanism for restoring our natural environment when it has become polluted or damaged by industrial or other human activities,” said Commissioner McCabe. “New Jersey has always been well known nationally for its leadership in environmental protection, and our Attorney General’s environmental legal staff has a well-earned reputation as one of the best in the country. I was very surprised to learn, upon arriving at DEP in January, that New Jersey had filed no new Natural Resource Damage cases in the entire eight years of the Christie Administration.”
The lawsuits span the state, covering areas in the North and South, and that are rural and urban. As described in the attached fact sheet, the suits involve six different sites:
  1. The Pohatcong Valley Superfund Site in Warren County, which has a stretch of groundwater contamination up to 9 miles long
  2. The former site of the Ronson Metals Corporation, a cigarette lighter manufacturing facility in the Ironbound District of Newark, on which residential homes were subsequently built
  3. The former site of Ruggiero Seaford, Inc., another manufacturing facility in the Ironbound, where a school was recently built. The site was remediated at a cost of millions of dollars by the Schools Development Authority (SDA), and this new action is designed to recover the cost of that clean-up.
  4. The former Hess petroleum refinery in the Port Reading section of Woodbridge
  5. A former retail Mobil gas station in the Fords section of Woodbridge and
  6. The former site of manufactured gas plant, now owned by Deull Fuel Company, near the Beach Thorofare waterway in Atlantic City
The three NRD cases are the Pohatcong Valley Superfund Site, the Port Reading refinery, and the Deull Fuel site in Atlantic City.
“The DEP and the Attorney General’s Office will once again be a dedicated team,” Commissioner McCabe said, “committed to safeguarding and improving the quality of our air, waters and land for all of New Jersey’s residents, no matter where they live.”
“Today, we’re back in the environmental enforcement business,” said Attorney General Grewal, who announced the six lawsuits along with Commissioner McCabe at press conferences in both Newark’s Ironbound District and in Atlantic City. “The truth is that environmental pollution affects us all, North and South, rural and urban, rich and poor. That’s why it matters to everyone that we are going after the polluters who damaged New Jersey’s precious natural resources and failed to properly clean up their mess. In the coming months my Office will aggressively bring even more Natural Resource Damage cases throughout the State, taking to task polluters who have harmed our environment.”
Photographs of the six sites are available here.
Anchor Glass Container Corporation Fined $1.1 Million for NSR Violations
The U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA announced a settlement agreement with Anchor Glass Container Corporation that will resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations at all six of Anchor’s container glass manufacturing facilities located in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, New York and Oklahoma and improve the company’s compliance with federal [and state] clean air laws. Under the proposed settlement, Anchor will install pollution controls to cut emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM) at its container glass manufacturing facilities. The states of Indiana and Oklahoma participated in the settlement.
“In this settlement, Anchor Glass Container Corporation has agreed to bring all of its manufacturing facilities into compliance with Clean Air Act requirements, which will help reduce harmful air pollutants to ensure the health and safety of communities in six states,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department will continue to work closely with the EPA and to partner with states to ensure compliance with federal clean air laws nationwide.”
“Under the terms of today’s settlement, Anchor Glass Container Corporation will take steps to reduce harmful air emissions from its facilities,” said Susan Bodine, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The resulting pollution reductions will mean cleaner and clearer air for communities in six states.”
“Protecting the health and safety of Indiana residents is one of my office’s top priorities,” said Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill. “Settlements such as this one help ensure that future generations will breathe cleaner air, and I’m grateful for the collaboration of our federal and state partners in bringing about this positive result.”
“I am pleased with the results of the settlement and hopeful this will help protect Oklahoma’s future,” said Executive Director Scott Thompson for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
The settlement resolves allegations that Anchor violated the Clean Air Act when it failed to seek permits for New Source Review major modifications at its container glass facilities. Anchor’s facilities manufacture beer bottles, liquor bottles, other beverage bottles, jars, and other glass containers.
Under this settlement, Anchor will implement pollution controls to reduce its NOx emissions at nine of its eleven furnaces (two furnaces already have pollution controls installed), and the company will meet more stringent NOx emissions limits at all of its furnaces. Anchor will also implement pollution controls and take other actions to reduce SO2 and PM emissions. The settlement also requires Anchor to install and operate continuous emissions monitors for NOx and SO2 at all eleven of its glass furnaces and to install continuous opacity monitors required by the Clean Air Act. The company will spend approximately $40 million in implementing these pollution reduction changes to its facilities.
This settlement will result in substantial reductions of NOx, SO2 and PM emissions at Anchor’s plants. NOx emissions will be reduced by over 2,000 tons per year, SO2 emissions will be reduced by over 700 tons per year and PM emissions will be reduced by over 100 tons per year. Additionally, Anchor will complete two mitigation projects, a woodburning appliance change-out project and a project to repower, retrofit, or replace vehicle diesel engines, further reducing NOx, SO2, and PM emissions.
As part of this settlement, Anchor will also pay a $1.1 million civil penalty.
NOx, SO2 and PM, three key pollutants emitted from glass manufacturing plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. The pollutants are converted in the air into fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts and premature death. Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit the communities located near the Anchor plants, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children.
The proposed consent decree was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information about submitting a public comment is available at:
Lawsuit Challenges Composition of Conservation Council
Conservation and animal protection groups sued the Trump administration for illegally establishing the “International Wildlife Conservation Council,” an advisory panel stacked with people who have personal or financial interests in killing or importing rare or endangered animals from overseas. Federal law requires government advisory panels to be balanced and not improperly influenced by special interests.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by Democracy Forward on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, asserts that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service flagrantly violated federal law by appointing a council packed with trophy hunters firearm executives and representatives of businesses with close ties to the Trump administration.
“Elephants, rhinos, and lions face enough threats without the U.S. government giving the cover of credibility to trophy hunters peddling the self-serving notion that killing endangered species constitutes a legitimate strategy for conserving them,” said Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Zak Smith. “If we have to sue to get our government to listen to wildlife conservation experts, we’re happy to do so.” Smith is also director of NRDC’s Wildlife Trade Initiative.
The IWCC is designed to promote the “removal of barriers” to trophy imports. Zinke, however, has refused to include conservation experts on the council, instead selecting trophy hunters and representatives of financially conflicted business interests. Four of the 17 council members had signed on to host a “Camouflage and Cufflinks” inaugural ball last year, soliciting millions of dollars in campaign contributions.
“Zinke’s thrill-kill council is unethical and illegal, and apparently that’s just fine with him,” said Tanya Sanerib, international program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These people kill imperiled animals for fun. They have no business making policy decisions about wildlife imports and we’re hopeful that the courts will agree.”
Trump called big game hunting a “horror show” in 2017, just weeks after his Fish and Wildlife Service abandoned an Obama-era ban on importing elephant trophies and sanctioned the hunting of lions in several countries. According to a Humane Society International report, trophy hunting has caused the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals since 2005.
“The public’s interest is not served by using taxpayer dollars to host meetings of wealthy trophy hunters to hatch plans to minimize governmental oversight of their unethical hobby,” said Anna Frostic, managing wildlife attorney for the Humane Society of the United States. “The Department of the Interior has failed to provide a rational justification for establishing the IWCC, and we are asking the federal court to revoke the council’s charter.”
“By establishing a council with the sole purpose of promoting the overseas hobby of trophy hunting, Secretary Zinke is breaking the law,” said Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy. “Contrary to the committee’s own name, Secretary Zinke has failed to include any conservation biologists or others with expertise in advising on wildlife conservation policy.”
Cooks Collision Fined $1.5 Million for Hazardous Waste Violations
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that her office, with 14 other District Attorney’s Offices in California, settled an environmental protection action against Cooks Collision, Inc. The settlement was based on violations of the laws regarding the storage and disposal of hazardous materials and hazardous wastes. The action was filed in Sacramento County.
Cooks Collision, Inc. is an automotive and auto body repair shop that operates 38 facilities throughout the State of California. In the ordinary course of business Cooks Collision stores hazardous materials and generates hazardous wastes. Inspections by the Environmental Management Department found that several Cooks Collison facilities in Sacramento County were out of compliance with the hazardous materials and hazardous waste laws. After further investigation, it was determined that other counties had similar compliance issues.
The State of California has a comprehensive statutory and regulatory framework that mandates a “cradle to grave” system known as the Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL). The HWCL system is maintained to record the generation, registration, tracking, storage, treatment, and disposal of hazardous wastes. The State also mandates notification, handling, training and spill/release reporting of hazardous materials under the Hazardous Materials Release Response Plans and Inventory Law. These provisions provide for the protection of the public and the environment from present or potential risks posed by hazardous materials and wastes.
In accordance with the HWCL and Hazardous Materials Release Response Plans and Inventory Law, the stipulated judgment mandates training, reporting and compliance by Cooks Collision with the regulations on hazardous materials and hazardous wastes. Cooks Collision will also be required to pay $1,525,000 as part of this settlement, of which $900,000 is in civil penalties and $325,000 is for investigative costs. An additional payment of $150,000 by Cooks Collision will fund a research project at Chico State focused on identifying a means for recycling by-products produced during the vehicle repair process. Cooks Collision was cooperative throughout the investigation and implemented training and compliance programs at each of its facilities. Cooks Collision has agreed to fund a $150,000 compliance program for the next two years.
District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said, “Protecting our environment from hazardous wastes is important to the health and safety of our community. Hazardous materials and wastes are a routine component in many business operations, and precautions must be taken to protect the environment and public safety.”
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