EPA announced that the U.S. Navy has agreed to reimburse the agency $1 million for cleanup costs at the Hooper Sands hazardous waste site in South Berwick, Maine.
Current law requires the U.S. Congress to authorize and appropriate the payment from the Navy to EPA's cleanup funds. Under the settlement agreement, the Navy will use its best efforts to obtain such Congressional authorization.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Paul Hussey, who owned the 80-acre site, accepted waste oils and chemicals from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and disposed of them in unlined pits on the property, contaminating groundwater. Twelve residential drinking water wells in the area were contaminated with various solvents and other organic chemicals, and an additional 39 home wells were threatened by contaminated groundwater.
EPA cleaned up the site a decade ago, removing 150 drums and excavating and treating 1300 cubic yards of contaminated soils. EPA also funded, with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the South Berwick Water District, a municipal water line to bring drinking water to 51 houses whose wells were contaminated or at risk. The water line was completed in 1995.
"Whether it's a business or a government entity like the Navy, EPA has a duty to make sure that responsible parties reimburse us for site cleanup costs," said Ira W. Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "This agreement with the Navy accomplishes that goal and it also allows us to devote more resources to future cleanups."
Under Superfund law, EPA is able to seek reimbursement of cleanup costs from those responsible for disposing of, or creating the wastes. In 1989, the Navy agreed in principle to fully reimburse EPA for cleanup costs at the Hooper Sands site. The Navy previously made two payments, following settlements in 1990 and 1992, to cover $1.8 million of EPA's costs. This agreement covers the remaining $1 million of the total costs for cleanup and water line construction.
The agreement will undergo a 30 day public comment period, as
required by law. The comment period will begin when the agreement
is published in the Federal Register, expected to be within the
next fourteen days.
EPA GIVES THE GREEN LIGHT ON DIESEL-SULFUR RULE
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman directed EPA to move forward on schedule with its rule to make heavy-duty trucks and buses run cleaner. These vehicles, which will be ready by model year 2007, will cut harmful pollution by 95 percent. Sulfur in diesel fuel must be lowered to enable modern pollution-control technology to be effective on these trucks and buses. The Agency will require a 97 percent reduction in the sulfur content of highway diesel fuel from its current level of 500 parts per million to 15 parts per million.
In announcing this decision, Administrator Whitman said, "The Bush Administration determined that this action not be delayed in order to protect public health and the environment. I look forward to working with state and local governments to meet their air quality goals as well as with citizens and businesses to ensure that diesel trucks and buses remain a viable and important part of the nation's economy."
Once this action is fully implemented, 2.6 million tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxide emissions will be reduced each year. Soot or particulate matter will be reduced by 110,000 tons a year. An estimated 8,300 premature deaths, 5,500 cases of chronic bronchitis and 17,600 cases of acute bronchitis in children will also be prevented annually. It is also estimated to help avoid more than 360,000 asthma attacks and 386,000 cases of respiratory symptoms in asthmatic children every year. In addition, 1.5 million lost work days, 7,100 hospital visits and 2,400 emergency room visits for asthma will be prevented.
Significant lead time is provided in the rule for the
introduction of new cleaner fuel into the marketplace. Engine
manufacturers will have flexibility to meet the new standards
through a phase-in approach between 2007 and 2010. The fuel
provision will go into effect in June 2006 and will be phased-in
through 2009. The program also includes various flexible
approaches, including additional time for some refiners and
special provisions for small refiners. The final rule and related
documents are available at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/diesel.htm.
FAA PROPOSES $500,000 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS FINE AGAINST EMERY WORLDWIDE AIRLINES, INC
The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed to assess a $500,000 civil penalty against Emery Worldwide Airlines, Inc., Vandalia, Ohio, for allegedly violating U.S. Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
The FAA alleged that Emery failed to notify the pilots on 19 occasions that hazardous materials were being transported on their aircraft between October 18, 1998, and July 13, 1999.
On two additional flights, Emery gave the pilots incorrect information about hazardous cargo on the aircraft. On one occasion, Emery accepted a hazardous materials shipment that had partially obscured hazardous materials markings.
Emery has 30 days from receipt of the FAA's civil penalty letter
to respond to the allegations.
MODIFICATIONS OF THE HAZARDOUS WASTE MANIFEST SYSTEM ON HOLD
Earlier this month we told you about improvements proposed to the Uniform Waste Manifest System to streamline hazardous waste reporting requirements and save waste handlers millions of dollars each year. The rule change proposed by EPA would make it easier for generators and transporters of hazardous waste to keep track of wastes by automating the preparation and transmission of the manifest form; standardizing the content and appearance of the form; making the form more accessible; and clarifying reporting procedures.
A reader has informed us and we have confirmed that this proposed rule is on hold per the Bush Administration, pending review by EPA Administrator Christine Whitman.
More information on the proposed rule, as well as a link to the
memorandum which puts this proposed rule and others on hold
pending Administrator review, is available at
SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS EPA POSITION ON SMOG, PARTICULATE RULES
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the Clean Air Act as EPA had interpreted it in setting the 1997 health-protective ambient air standards for ground-level ozone (smog) and particulates (soot). EPA set these standards to better protect Americans from the wide variety of health problems that air pollution can cause, such as premature death and breathing difficulties.
"The Supreme Court today [February 27, 2001] issued a solid endorsement of EPA's efforts to protect the health of millions of Americans from the dangers of air pollution, and affirmed our constitutional authority to set these kinds of health protection standards in the future," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "Congress delegated to EPA the standard-setting function and EPA carried it out appropriately."
The Court upheld EPA's long-standing position that the Clean Air Act requires EPA to set these standards based solely on public health considerations without consideration of costs. The Court also acknowledged that it is appropriate for states and EPA to continue to consider costs in implementing the standards. The Court also confirmed that the Clean Air Act does not bar EPA from implementing the ozone standard. EPA will need to determine how to implement the standard consistent with the Court's opinion.
The Clean Air Act requires that EPA review all its air standards every five years to make sure they reflect the latest and best scientific evidence. In 1997, based on thousands of new health studies, EPA toughened the standards for smog and, for the first time, set a standard for fine particulates equal to or smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter. Fine particulates include airborne soot from sources such as diesel trucks and power plants; smog is caused by emissions from cars, power plants, chemical plants, petroleum refineries and a variety of other sources.
The decision was challenged by the American Trucking Associations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other state and business groups who claimed that EPA misinterpreted the Clean Air Act to give itself unlimited discretion to set air standards.
The cases involved in the Supreme Court decision today are
Whitman v. American Trucking Associations, 99-1257, and American
Trucking Associations v. Whitman, 99-1426.
EPA'S FISCAL YEAR 2000 ANNUAL REPORT AVAILABLE
EPA's Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 Annual Report is now available. Unlike EPA's FY 1999 Annual Performance Report, which was designed specifically to meet the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), the FY 2000 Annual Report addresses reporting requirements under GPRA as well as under several other management statutes the Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act, the Inspector General Act Amendments, the Government Management Reform Act, and the Chief Financial Officers Act as allowed by the Reports Consolidation Act of 2000. Therefore, this consolidated annual report not only represents a step toward the government-wide goal of streamlining management reporting but also allows the Agency to present to Congress and the American public a fuller, more comprehensive picture of its FY 2000 progress and accomplishments, both programmatic and financial.
The report is available on-line at http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/finstatement/2000ar/2000ar.htm. To order a copy of the report, visit http://www.epa.gov/ncepihom.
You are invited to submit comments on the report to EPA via electronic mail to 2000AR.OCFO@epa.gov or write to: Office of Planning, Analysis, and Accountability, Office of the Chief Financial Officer (2721A), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460. You may fax comments to (202) 564-1808 marked "Attention: FY 2000 Annual Report."