New ASTM International Face Covering Standard

March 01, 2021
ASTM International approved a new standard for barrier face coverings that will help establish minimum design, performance, labeling, and care requirements for reusable barrier face coverings. The standard was developed by ASTM’s committee on personal protective clothing and equipment (F23).
 
The new standard (F3502) is intended to apply to the general public and workers and includes specific requirements for barrier face coverings including design and general construction criteria, particle filtration efficiency levels, sizing and fit testing criteria, labeling instructions, and guidance on cleaning and recommended periods of use.
 
“Members of the committee worked together to reach a consensus and address the gap that exists for barrier face coverings that are neither a respirator nor a surgical mask,” said Kathie Morgan, ASTM International president. “The standard helps to benchmark products and will inform consumers when selecting face coverings for their intended use.”
 
Numerous ASTM PPE standards have been recognized internationally by the World Health Organization and in the United States by health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
 
The barrier face covering standard is available at www.astm.org/COVID-19 along with 28 other COVID-related standards as part of ASTM International’s ongoing commitment to provide no-cost public access to important ASTM standards used in the production and testing of personal protective equipment to combat the coronavirus public health emergency.
 
ASTM International also released a technical white paper entitled “Collaboration to Advance Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Safety, Quality, and Innovation.” This informative paper identifies the current landscape of standards development for PPE, including a summary of a recent workshop on fast-tracking standards development, challenges facing PPE quality and availability, and challenges facing standards development.
 
Additionally, the white paper outlines the need for new and modified standards across infection control PPE that seek to address high-priority gaps that ASTM and other SDOs can pursue.
 
The paper introduces a new global collaboration platform on PPE aimed at addressing challenges facing PPE and accelerating standards development. The global collaboration platform is envisioned to bring together global PPE stakeholders to bolster communication and outreach, partnership formation, innovation, and much more.
 
“With over 100 existing cooperation agreements with standards bodies across the world, ASTM International is positioned to exchange knowledge, promote technical alignment, and advance PPE manufacturing and innovation as we face COVID and public health challenges of the future,” concluded Morgan.
 
ASTM International will host an introductory webinar on the global platform on March 16, 2021. The webinar will include remarks from ASTM President Kathie Morgan among others. Interested parties can click here to register, or for more information as it becomes available. To access the technical white paper, click here.
 
Upcoming Training
 
To help you get the training you need, Environmental Resource Center has a number of upcoming live webcast training courses. Stay in compliance and learn the latest regulations from the comfort of your office or home. You’ll receive the same benefits as our seminar attendees including expert instruction, comprehensive course materials, one year of access to our AnswerlineTM service, course certificate, and a personalized user portal on Environmental Resource Center’s website.
 
Environmental Resource Center training is the best way to learn about the environmental, safety, and hazardous materials transportation requirements that apply to your site. Learn from the experts and get your site-specific questions answered at these sessions this week:
 
Semiconductor Manufacturer Cited for Hazardous Waste VOC Emission Violations
 
EPA has settled an enforcement case with the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation that resolves alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at the company's semiconductor manufacturing facility in South Portland, Maine.
 
Under the settlement, Fairchild has agreed to maintain compliance with federal regulations issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to reduce hazardous air pollutants and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions. Fairchild has certified that the facility has corrected its violations and agreed to pay a penalty of $104,545. The company was cooperative during EPA's enforcement investigation and the case settlement negotiations.
 
"This settlement results in improved air quality for the people of South Portland,"said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro."It's important that companies that produce hazardous air pollutants during their operations follow the correct procedures to ensure they are properly managed under environmental regulations to mitigate potential risks to human health and the environment."
 
Fairchild's manufacturing processes generate liquid solvent wastes that can emit hazardous VOCs. The facility was storing solvent hazardous wastes in several tanks but had no RCRA air emissions compliance program in place for the tanks nor did it meet RCRA air requirements for labeling, monitoring, and recordkeeping for the various equipment associated with the tanks.
 
EPA discovered the violations after conducting a RCRA compliance inspection at Fairchild's facility. After the inspection, the facility dismantled a 5,500-gallon hazardous waste storage tank that was violating RCRA's air emissions regulations and instituted a RCRA air compliance program for its other tanks and equipment subject to these regulations.
 
This proposed settlement is part of an EPA National Compliance Initiative that focuses on RCRA air emissions to reduce hazardous air pollutants at hazardous waste-handling facilities. RCRA requires effective monitoring and control of air emissions from hazardous waste storage tanks, pipes, valves, and other equipment since these emissions can cause adverse health and environmental effects and can contribute to ground-level ozone (smog) formation.
 
Two Companies Sentenced for Criminal Asbestos Violations
 
U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced that Tae Ryung Yoon, aka Thomas Yoon, 64, Yoo Jin Management Company, Ltd. and Mush Inn Corporation were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Joshua M. Kindred, for asbestos work violations under the Clean Air Act.
 
Yoo Jin Management Company Ltd. and Mush Inn Corporation were sentenced to 3 years of probation and ordered to jointly and severally pay $30,000 in restitution and a $35,000 fine. The government will be seeking an additional $27,081.14 in restitution for the medical monitoring costs of the victims exposed to asbestos at an upcoming restitution hearing scheduled for March 15.
 
Tae Ryung Yoon, aka Thomas Yoon, was a contracted employee for the Northern Lights Center and was was sentenced to a term of 2 years of probation and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.
 
A 10-count indictment was filed in September 2019, which alleged that from January 2015 through March 2015, Thomas Yoon, Yoo Jin Management Company, Ltd., and Mush Inn Corporation knowingly violated Clean Air Act asbestos work practice standards and asbestos disposal standards with regard to the renovation of a an old boiler room at the Northern Lights Center, located at 1200 W. Northern Lights Blvd. in Anchorage. Further, the owners and operators of the facility failed to submit notification to the EPA as required when renovating 393 square feet of Regulated Asbestos Containing Material.
 
According to Court Documents, Yoo Jin Management Company Ltd. and Mush Inn Corporation, (now known as NLSC Investments, Inc.) jointly owned Northern Lights Center since 2006. In November of 2014, they entered into a contract with a handyman/contractor to remove insulation, pipe, a pump, electric power lines, and the unused boilers located in the old boiler room at the facility. The contractor was not a certified asbestos abatement contractor. Despite having knowledge that there had been asbestos discovered during prior renovation projects, they failed to have an asbestos survey completed prior to the renovation commencing in January 2015 and failed to inform the contractor of the possibility of asbestos in the old boiler room. Between January and March 2015, the contractor began removing the insulation that surrounded the pipes and boilers. During the months the contractor was engaged in work, three workers were required to enter the boiler room to replace filters for the heating and ventilation system (HVAC). The work in the boiler room was eventually halted when two of the HVAC workers raised concerns about asbestos. The EPA was notified, and an inspector surveyed the boiler room. The EPA inspector discovered white dust and flakes throughout the boiler room. Samples taken from the boiler room were later confirmed by the EPA laboratory to contain 2%, 5%, 7% and 17% asbestos respectively.
 
The EPA and Congress have determined there is no safe exposure limit for asbestos. In 1971, asbestos became the first hazardous air pollutant listed under the Clean Air Act. Because there is no concentration of asbestos that is considered safe, the EPA disseminated work practice standards for renovations and demolition projects that direct the handling and disposal of regulated asbestos containing material.
 
“The defendants’ illegal practices for the removal of asbestos containing material exposed four workers to asbestos and these workers now face extended periods of medical monitoring,” said Special Agent in Charge Scot Adair of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Alaska. “EPA is taking action to hold the defendants accountable for their actions.”
 
The EPA Criminal Investigation Division conducted the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of this case. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charisse Arce and Karla Gebel Perrin, Special Assistant U. S. Attorney, U.S. EPA Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel.
 
Auto Parts Manufacturer Cited for Failing to Implement, Enforce Coronavirus Protections as Exposure Leads to Press Operator’s Death
 
Two machine operators at a Grandview auto parts manufacturer who jointly operated a press tested positive for the coronavirus just two days apart, in late August 2020. The two workers typically labored for hours at a time less than two feet apart; neither wore a protective facial mask consistently. Ten days later, two more workers operating similar presses together tested positive. On Sept. 19, 2020, one of the press operators fell victim to the virus and died.
 
In an investigation that followed, OSHA cited Peterson Manufacturing – operating as Maxi-Seal Harness Systems Inc. – under OSHA’s general duty clause for failing to maintain safe working conditions. At least six employees of the Grandview plant have tested positive for the virus.
 
The company faces one serious and one other-than-serious violation, and proposed penalties totaling $15,604. As part of the investigation, OSHA’s Office of Occupational Medicine and Nursing determined, with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the deceased employee contracted the virus while on the job.
 
“Maxi-Seal Harness Systems failed to fully implement and enforce the use of feasible controls for employees to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said OSHA Area Director Karena Lorek in Kansas City. “We found that the company failed to implement use of face masks and social distancing properly throughout the workplace until after the death of an employee.”
 
OSHA has established coronavirus guidelines and resources for keeping workers safe and healthy on the job.
 
Ohio Contractor Cited for Exposing Workers to Fall Hazards
 
Three stories above ground, five workers moved unsteadily atop a Canton, OH apartment building. All of them at risk of a serious or fatal fall because, once again, their employer failed to ensure they used required safety equipment to protect them from falling. Ivan Lowky – their employer – was also working on the roof without necessary fall protection despite having the equipment available.
 
For the sixth time since 2012, OSHA has found Lowky, operator of ILS Construction in Hartville, failed to provide workers with fall protection equipment. On Nov. 3, 2020, an OSHA inspector observed Lowky and his employees using nail guns to install roofing material without fall protection. OSHA cited ILS Construction for two willful and one serious violation, and proposed $117,572 in penalties.
 
“Exposure to fall hazards makes roofing work one of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry,” explained OSHA Area Director Howard Eberts, in Cleveland. “OSHA requires fall protection when working at heights greater than 6 feet. OSHA is determined to reduce the numbers of preventable, fall-related deaths in the construction and will hold employers accountable for intentionally exposing their workers to such serious dangers.”
 
Newport Bay Boat Yards to Pay Penalties Over Violations of Clean Water Act
 
EPA has announced settlements with Basin Marine, Inc. and Balboa Boatyard of California, Inc., to resolve Clean Water Act violations for discharging contaminants into Newport Bay. Under the settlements, Basin Marine and Balboa Boatyard will pay a combined $202,132 in penalties and will maintain preventative measures to reduce the discharge of pollutants through stormwater runoff into Newport Bay, an impaired water body for numerous pollutants. The violations pertained to discharges of paint solvents, fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, and heavy metals, including lead, zinc, and copper. Stormwater discharges containing heavy metals have been found to harm aquatic life and sensitive marine ecosystems.
 
“It is critical for boatyard facilities to maintain adequate stormwater pollution controls to protect our coastal ecosystems,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, Amy Miller.“  These actions are part of a larger effort to ensure businesses at marinas comply with storm water requirements or face significant Clean Water Act penalties.”
 
EPA found Clean Water Act violations at Basin Marine during inspections in 2018 and 2019, and at Balboa Boatyard in 2019. The violations at both facilities related to regulations preventing the discharge of pollutants through stormwater as well as the failure to comply with California’s industrial stormwater permit.
 
At Basin Marine, EPA inspectors found the facility had failed to conduct required stormwater sampling, had not properly cleaned and disposed of identified debris near catch basins, and had exceeded limits for both copper and zinc levels in stormwater. The Balboa Boatyard facility had failed to conduct required stormwater sampling and had not identified sufficient storage capacity to contain the runoff generated during routine, seasonal rain events. Additionally, Balboa Boatyard lacked appropriate management practices to reduce pollutants associated with boat maintenance from being discharged into stormwater.
 
Newport Bay was first identified by California in 1996 as an impaired water body due to an elevated presence of several toxic pollutants, including metals and pesticides. EPA has worked alongside the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board to reduce these pollutants through the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads in the bay and upstream watershed. Minimizing pollutants in stormwater discharges from boatyards is critical to meeting these long-term water quality objectives.
 
EPA's settlements with Basin Marine for $142,224 and Balboa Boatyard for $59,908 resolve the CWA violations found at the facilities. Basin Marine’s finalized settlement is available at https://www.epa.gov/ca/consent-agreement-and-proposed-final-order-basin-marine-inc-newport-beach-ca.
 
EPA’s settlement with Balboa Boatyard is subject to a 30-day public comment period prior to final approval. The public notice and proposed settlement are available at https://www.epa.gov/publicnotices/notices-search/location/Southwest.
 
PurEnvironment Found Guilty of Environmental Criminal Charges for Covid-Related Scam
 
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that PurEnvironment, a Utah-based mold remediation company, pleaded guilty to environmental crimes charges Ferguson brought regarding the company’s false claims that its products could provide “90+ day protection” against COVID-19. King County Superior Court Judge Gregg H. Hirakawa sentenced the company to a year of probation, a $15,000 fine, and to come into compliance with state and federal regulations.
 
As the COVID-19 pandemic began, the company claimed on its website and in statements to the press that one of its mold-inhibiting pesticides could “completely rid” homes and businesses of COVID-19 and protect against it for 90 days. In reality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only approved this pesticide for inhibiting the growth of mold, mildew and odor-causing bacteria. It is not approved for any use against viruses, let alone “90-day protection” against them.
 
Thankfully, no individuals or businesses are known to have actually hired or paid PurEnvironment for these services. “Throughout the pandemic, my office has been policing COVID-related scams,” Ferguson said. “False claims undermine recommendations from public health experts and endanger the community. We will hold corporations and individuals that engage in coronavirus-related scams accountable.”
 
Ferguson filed criminal charges against the company in King County District Court, alleging improper application of a pesticide under the Washington Pesticide Application Act. The company pleaded guilty to this misdemeanor charge, and must pay a $15,000 fine. The company must also comply with Washington state and federal pesticide registration requirements.
 
The standard fine for a violation of the Washington Pesticide Application Act is $1,000. PurEnvironment faces a much higher fine thanks to the 2019 Corporate Crime Act, sponsored by then-state representative Mike Pellicciotti. Under this law, any corporation found guilty of a crime faces harsher monetary penalties. This legislation amended a Washington law that capped fines for corporate crimes at $10,000, no matter how serious the crime.
 
The Attorney General’s Office Environmental Protection Division investigated the case with EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division. The EPA Air and Toxics Enforcement Section issued a warning to the company in July to stop its false COVID-19 protection claims. The company continued making these claims on its website for months after it received this warning.
 
“PurEnvironment knowingly persisted in their false assertions that their pesticide application provided protection against COVID-19,” said Special Agent in Charge Scot Adair of EPA’s criminal investigation program in Washington.  “As this case demonstrates, EPA and its State of Washington law enforcement partners are committed to holding responsible parties accountable for false claims that put entire communities at risk.”
 
PurEnvironment is a Utah-based mold remediation company. For its two-step mold removal process, the company uses two pesticides that it brands as “InstaPURE” and “EverPURE.” Since it began operating in Washington in 2018, the company has used these two products without properly registering them for use with the State of Washington.
 
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, PurEnvironment began making claims that its mold-remediation services could “completely rid your home and business’s surfaces of the COVID-19.” The company’s website told consumers that EverPURE, one of its mold-inhibiting products, could protect against COVID-19 for 90 days.
 
The products that PurEnvironment branded as EverPURE were never approved to treat any virus, let alone COVID-19. Those pesticides are mold inhibitors, only approved to inhibit the growth of odor- and stain-causing bacteria, mold, mildew and algae. There is no evidence that this anti-mold product can provide protection against viruses for 90 days.
 
In April 2020, the company reached out to a KIRO-7 news reporter and arranged to provide its “COVID disinfecting services” to a local gym, to be covered in the reporter’s story.The KIRO-7 broadcast covered the disinfecting process and included an interview with PurEnvironment’s co-owner, Brent Allenbach. Allenbach claimed in the interview that EverPURE is antiviral, stating, “there’s a positive charge in there, now bacteria, viruses and mold all have negative charges, so as they come in and land on these surfaces, it will puncture it, denature it and kill it.”
 
In July 2020, the EPA sent a Notice of Advisement to PurEnvironment that the claims associated with their COVID-19 advertisements were likely false and misleading. At least as recently as December 2020, PurEnvironment still had a page on its website claiming that EverPURE will “protect your surfaces for up to 90 days from all viruses, including COVID-19.”
 
No individuals or businesses are known to have actually hired PurEnvironment for these services. The gym featured in the KIRO-7 story has refused to pay for the illegal services it received.
 
The Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case at the request of the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Assistant Attorney General Bradley Roberts led the case for Washington.
 
Ferguson has made prosecuting environmental crimes a priority of his administration. Since 2013, he has brought environmental prosecutions leading to 36 criminal convictions, and restitution orders totaling in excess of $4.9 million.
 
Under state and federal regulations, commercial pesticide applicators must use registered pesticides in a way that complies with the approved label. The Environmental Protection Agency considers the commercial application of an unregistered pesticide to be a distribution and violation under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. EPA advises consumers who have purchased an unregistered or misbranded pesticide product to safely dispose of it in accordance with local, state and federal laws. This is especially important for consumers seeking to protect against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
 
EPA recommends that consumers only purchase or use products on the agency’s List N of Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19). All products on this list are expected to kill SARS-CoV-2 when used according to the label directions. Consumers who hire a commercial applicator to disinfect their home or business should ask to see the label for the disinfectants used to ensure they are both safe and effective.
 
EPA Takes Action to Address PFAS in Drinking Water
 
EPA has issued two actions to protect public health by addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, highlighting the agency’s commitment to address these long-lasting “forever chemicals” that can enter drinking water supplies and impact communities across the United States. The Biden-Harris administration is committed to addressing PFAS in the nation’s drinking water and will build on these actions by advancing science and using the agency’s authorities to protect public health and the environment.

“All people need access to clean and safe drinking water. One way that EPA is committed to keeping our communities safe is by addressing PFAS,” said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox.“These actions will underpin better science, better future regulation, and improved public health protections.”
 
Taken together, these two actions will support the agency’s efforts to better understand and ultimately reduce the potential risks caused by this broad class of chemicals. EPA is reproposing the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) to collect new data on PFAS in drinking water and the agency is reissuing final regulatory determinations for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). After a thorough review in accordance with Biden-Harris administration executive orders and other directives, the agency is reissuing these actions. EPA will build on them using a strong foundation of science while working to harmonize multiple authorities to address the impacts of PFAS on public health and the environment. EPA is also committed to a flexible approach and working collaboratively with states, tribes, water systems, and local communities that have been impacted by PFAS.
 
With the final Regulatory Determinations for PFOA and PFOS, EPA will move forward to implement the national primary drinking water regulation development process for these two PFAS. The Regulatory Determinations also outline avenues that the agency is considering to further evaluate additional PFAS chemicals and provide flexibility for the agency to consider groups of PFAS as supported by the best available science.
 
Additionally, the proposed UCMR 5 would provide new data that is critically needed to improve EPA’s understanding of the frequency that 29 PFAS are found in the nation’s drinking water systems and at what levels. EPA will accept public comment on the proposed UCMR 5 for 60 days, following publication in the Federal Register. EPA will also hold a virtual stakeholder meeting twice during the public comment period.
 
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, applauded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s announcement that it will move forward with publishing the regulatory determination for PFOA and PFOS in the Federal Register.This announcement comes days after Ranking Member Capito sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain regarding this very issue.
 
“While not uncommon when an administration changes, the rules freeze issued was impeding urgent action in working towards the regulation of forever chemicals in drinking water. I greatly appreciate Mr. Klain’s prompt attention, and I’m encouraged by the administration’s response to this environmental and public health matter. I’m hopeful we can continue to work together in this way on other issues,” Ranking Member Capito said.
 
Consent Decree Entered to Resolve Clean Air Act Violations at the ABC Coke Facility in Tarrant, Alabama
 
On January 25, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, in Birmingham, entered a consent decree (CD) that resolves allegations by the EPA and the Jefferson County Board of Health (JCBH) that Drummond Company (Drummond) violated certain provisions of the federal Clean Air Act and implementing regulations at its coke chemical byproducts recovery plant located at the ABC Coke facility in Tarrant. The ABC Coke facility consists of two related industrial plants -- a coke oven battery plant and a coke byproduct recovery plant which is the subject of the CD.
 
Entry of the CD resolves a separate complaint filed by the Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution (GASP), an environmental advocacy group, challenging the lodged CD.
 
“This settlement reflects the hard work and dedication of the parties to resolve their differences and to finalize an excellent agreement that provides significant environmental benefits to the community by reducing benzene emissions from the coke byproduct recovery plant and ensuring that appropriate leak detection and repair requirements will be carried out at the plant under the CD and the facility’s permits,” said Carol L. Kemker, EPA Region 4 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division Director.
 
Based on inspections of the ABC Coke byproducts recovery plant conducted in 2011 and 2014, EPA and JCBH alleged that Drummond violated federal regulations known as National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. The proposed CD lodged in February 2019 required Drummond to address the alleged violations by enclosing open waste streams, sealing leaking equipment to prevent emissions of benzene into the air, and developing and implementing a revised Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program to ensure the company conducts appropriate monitoring and leak detection and repair activities.
 
The CD also required Drummond to pay a civil penalty of $775,000 and to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Project that requires Drummond to use an infrared thermal imaging camera to detect leaks during periodic inspections.
 
Subsequent to the 2011 and 2014 inspections, and prior to the lodging of the CD, Drummond began implementing corrective actions to seal and enclose the open waste streams and leaking equipment. Drummond also developed a revised LDAR program meeting the requirements of the consent decree which it began to implement in 2017.
 
After lengthy discovery and negotiations following lodging to address GASP’s separate complaint, the parties reached a settlement that expands the existing CD’s LDAR requirements so that those requirements will continue beyond the termination of the CD. On January 15, 2021, the parties filed their settlement documents with the Court, and on January 25, 2021, the Court dismissed GASP's complaint and entered the CD. As of the date of entry, Drummond had completed most of the work required by the CD to enclose and seal waste streams and equipment.
 
In addition, JCBH and GASP entered into a separate settlement agreement that includes, among other things, an agreement by JCBH to direct its share of the civil penalty to a local foundation which provides funding for community-based projects.
 
METech Recycling, Inc. Fined $310,000 for Hazardous and Universal Waste Violations
 
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and METech reached a settlement agreement that requires the company to pay $310,000 to resolve hazardous and universal waste violations at its Gilroy facility, including failure to operate in a manner that minimizes the possibility of release of hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents.
 
“Our enforcement team conducts thorough and timely inspections to stop companies from running illegal, dangerous, and potentially disastrous operating practices,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “Violators put the health and safety of California communities at risk if left unchecked.”
 
This enforcement case is one of many pursued by DTSC to hold polluters accountable for potential and actual releases of toxic substances, which can have devastating effects on the people and environment of California.
 
DTSC inspectors concluded that the electronic waste handling and recycling facility treated mercury-containing devices in a metal shredder without a permit, in violation of the California Code of Regulations. Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that affects brain and nerve function and can accumulate inside aquatic food chains when exposed to the environment. DTSC ordered METech to stop its shredding operations from September 2016 to August 2018. While shredding operations were ceased, METech decontaminated its facility and made changes to its equipment to ensure the facility can be operated in a manner to prevent the possibility of release of hazardous waste.
 
METech is also accused of failing to provide regular training to staff on universal waste management and proper emergency response procedures and failing to maintain adequate financial assurance to properly close its facility, in the event that it needed to be closed.
 
The company was also cited for, among other things:
  • Unauthorized and excessive storage of hazardous waste,
  • Inadequate labeling of universal and hazardous waste containers and failure to keep universal waste in designated areas,
  • Failure to close hazardous waste containers, and
  • Failure to prepare a manifest for a shipment of hazardous waste.
 
The settlement was approved by the Alameda Superior Court on Jan. 29, 2021. A copy of the civil complaint and settlement agreement for this action are available online here.
 
Joint Statement by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada on the Nexus between Transportation and Climate Change
 
The following is the full text of the February 25 joint statement issued by DOT and Transport Canada on international cooperation on climate change in the transport sector.
 
“Recognizing the transport sector constitutes one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions for both nations, and in light of the integrated nature of our transportation sectors, Secretary Buttigieg and Minister Alghabra committed to reinvigorate our bilateral cooperation to fight climate change and limit the environmental impacts from our transportation networks—on land, air and sea.
 
In support of the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership, announced by President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau and our bilateral Memorandum of Cooperation on “Transport Matters of Mutual Interest,” signed in 2016, we will work together to accelerate policy actions that help our transport sectors grapple effectively with the climate challenge. A healthy environment and economy support the goals of both countries to ‘build back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic, and leverage actions at the state, provincial, territorial, and local levels.
 
On roads, together with other federal departments and agencies, we aim toward a zero-emission vehicle future through ambitious vehicle standards to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases from light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. We intend to work together to help accelerate the achievement of 100% zero-emission vehicle sales for light-duty vehicles and increase the supply of and demand for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
 
We plan to explore best practices on how to help incentivize the installation of electric charging stations, and refueling stations for clean fuels, including through the ongoing coordination of electric and alternative fuel corridors and the alignment of technical codes, standards and regulations, to enable the seamless transportation of people and goods. We also plan to work collaboratively on new innovative solutions to decrease emissions and to advance the use of cleaner fuels in rail transportation.
 
On aviation, we are committed to working together on a shared vision toward reducing the sector’s emissions in a manner consistent with the goal of net zero emissions for our economies by 2050, and on robust standards that integrate climate protection and safety. We intend to advance the development and deployment of high integrity sustainable aviation fuels and other clean technologies that meet rigorous international standards, building on existing partnerships, such as through ASCENT– the Aviation Sustainability Center – and pursue policies to increase the supply and demand of sustainable aviation fuels.
 
We are committed to partnering in key international forums, including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In ICAO, we will engage in processes to advance a new long-term aspirational goal in line with our vision for decarbonizing the aviation sector, and continue to participate in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). At the IMO, to reduce emissions from ships, we plan to work towards achieving the ambition reflected in the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions to halve emissions from ships by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.
 
We will continue to support the development of green transport infrastructure along the border, including in our management of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway for maritime navigation. We will work to advance cleaner, sustainable, and renewable fuels for shipping. We are dedicated to working with the IMO to effectively implement the ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) as fuel in the Arctic. We also look forward to exploring how we might address and support the transportation infrastructure needs of Arctic and Northern communities, such as safety, climate change, and fostering socio-economic opportunities.
 
This new focus on climate will reinforce our already vast cooperation portfolio across all modes of transportation to ensure safe, secure, and efficient transportation networks of today, while preparing for the innovations of tomorrow, and recovering our economies in a way that promotes employment, sustainability and equity.”
 
Sunoco Fined $497,000 for Releases Along Mariner East 2 Pipeline
 
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ordered Sunoco Pipeline L.P. (Sunoco), which operates numerous petroleum and natural gas pipelines in Pennsylvania, to pay $497,000 as a result of a consent order and agreement for violating the Clean Streams Law, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Code, and the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act. The violations happened in Lebanon County in connection to the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. Sunoco satisfied its payment obligation on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.
 
In addition to the $497,000 in penalties paid to DEP, Sunoco also paid $25,855 to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. From the $497,000, a portion, $490,200 went to the Clean Water Fund, and $6,800 went to the Dams and Encroachments Fund.
 
Sunoco’s infractions include unauthorized discharges of drilling fluids consisting of bentonite clay and water, also known as inadvertent returns into Snitz Creek and failure to notify DEP of multiple losses of circulation. Inadvertent returns (IR) are unauthorized discharges of drilling fluid to land and water. Losses of circulation occur when drilling fluids escape under the surface and do not return to the surface.
 
Between May 21, 2020, and August 13, 2020, Sunoco did not notify DEP of 32 losses of circulation. Additionally, between September 17, 2020, and October 19, 2020, DEP received 12 notices from Sunoco that inadvertent returns had occurred.
 
On October 19, 2020, an IR event expressed itself at approximately 20 locations along Snitz Creek. Sunoco installed a sandbag dam and corrugated plastic pipe flume within Snitz Creek. Sunoco did not obtain a permit or other approval from DEP to install a sandbag coffer dam or stream enclosure within Snitz Creek.
 
In addition to the fee of $497,000, Sunoco must submit a cleanup and restoration plan with a proposed implementation schedule for Snitz Creek by Sunday, February 28, 2021. The Restoration Plan must include a detailed resource delineation and function assessment in the areas impacted by all previous IR events, as well as reference areas. Upon DEP’s approval, Sunoco must implement the Restoration Plan, unless DEP grants an extension.
 
Sunoco resumed activities at Snitz Creek on February 17, 2021, following DEP approval.
 
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