New Chemical Category Added to EPCRA Reports

June 06, 2016

EPA has proposed to add a hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) category to the list of toxic chemicals subject to reporting under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and section 6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act. EPA believes that HBCD can reasonably be anticipated to cause developmental and reproductive effects in humans and is highly toxic to aquatic and terrestrial organisms. The agency also believes that HBCD should be classified as a persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemical and assigned a 100-pound reporting threshold. Based on a review of the available production and use information, members of the HBCD category are expected to be manufactured, processed, or otherwise used in quantities that would exceed a 100-pound EPCRA Section 313 reporting threshold.

Comments on EPA’s proposal can be submitted until August 1, 2016. POC to Daniel R. Bushman, Toxics Release Inventory Program Division (7409M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001;: 202-566-0743; or bushman.daniel@epa.gov.

Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

In the first major modification to the hazardous waste regulations in over 10 years, EPA plans to modify and reorganize the hazardous waste generator rule. When adopted, the rule will provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed and close important gaps in the regulations.

Attend Environmental Resource Center’s live, online session on April 18 to learn:

  • New requirements for documenting hazardous waste determinations
  • Revised requirements for when and how to submit the Notification of Generator Status form to EPA
  • How to take advantage of the episodic generation exclusion to avoid reclassification to a larger generator status
  • Definitions of important new terms – “Very Small Quantity Generator” and “Central Accumulation Area”
  • How to mark containers, tanks, and containment buildings with new information required at central accumulation areas and satellites
  • New conditions under which containers can be left open at satellite accumulation areas
  • Updated time and volume limits for satellite accumulation areas
  • New documentation requirements for contingency plans and biennial reports
  • New requirements for shipping hazardous waste from a VSQG to another facility owned by the same organization

Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372.

New Exclusions for Solvent Recycling and Hazardous Secondary Materials

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

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

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

Learn how to take advantage of these exclusions at Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast on July 8 where you will learn:

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

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

Chattanooga RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Chattanooga, TN, on June 14–16 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Dayton RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Dayton, OH, on June 27–29 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Raleigh RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Raleigh, NC, on July 11–13 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

EPA Finalizes NSPS for Greenhouse Gases and VOCs in Oil and Natural Gas Sector

EPA is proposing amendments to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) at subpart OOOO and proposed new standards at subpart OOOOa. The agency has finalized both the amendments and the new standards with appropriate adjustments after full consideration of the comments received on the proposal. Prior to proposal, EPA pursued a structured engagement process with states and stakeholders. Prior to that process, EPA issued draft white papers addressing a range of technical issues and then solicited comments on the white papers from expert reviewers and the public.

Prior to this final rule, the EPA had established standards for emissions of VOC and sulfur dioxide (SO2) for several sources in the source category. In this action, the EPA finalizes standards at subpart OOOOa, based on the agency’s determination of the best system of emissions reduction (BSER) for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), specifically methane, as well as VOC across a variety of additional emission sources in the oil and natural gas source category (i.e., production, processing, transmission, and storage). Requirements for methane emissions are included in this action because methane is one of the six well-mixed gases in the definition of GHGs and the oil and natural gas source category is one of the country's largest industrial emitters of methane. In 2009, the EPA found that by causing or contributing to climate change, GHGs endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.

In addition to finalizing standards for VOC and GHGs, the EPA is finalizing amendments to improve several aspects of the existing standards at 40 CFR 60, subpart OOOO related to implementation. These improvements and the setting of standards for GHGs in the form of limitations on methane result from reconsideration of certain issues raised in petitions for reconsideration that were received by the Administrator on the August 16, 2012, NSPS (77 FR 49490) and on the September 13, 2013, amendments (78 FR 58416). These implementation improvements do not change the requirements for operations and equipment covered by the current standards at subpart OOOO.

The final requirements include standards for GHG emissions (in the form of methane emission limitations) and standards for VOC emissions. The NSPS includes both VOC and GHG emission standards for certain new, modified, and reconstructed equipment, processes, and activities across the oil and natural gas source category. These emission sources include the following:

  • Sources that are unregulated under the current NSPS at subpart OOOO (hydraulically fractured oil well completions, pneumatic pumps, and fugitive emissions from well sites and compressor stations)
  • Sources that are currently regulated at subpart OOOO for VOC, but not for GHGs (hydraulically fractured gas well completions and equipment leaks at natural gas processing plants)
  • Certain equipment that is used across the source category, for which the current NSPS at subpart OOOO regulates emissions of VOC from only a subset (pneumatic controllers, centrifugal compressors, and reciprocating compressors), with the exception of compressors located at well sites.

DOT Publishes Revised Requirements for Shipping Damaged Batteries

40 CFR 173.159 prescribes requirements applicable to the transportation of electric storage batteries containing electrolyte acid or alkaline corrosive battery fluid (i.e., wet batteries). This section outlines packaging requirements, exceptions for highway or rail transport, and tests that batteries must be capable of withstanding to be considered as non-spillable. However, prior to DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Agency’s (PHMSA) new rule that was published in the June 2, 2016 Federal Register, there was no authorization to transport nor are there any requirements or instructions for shippers of damaged or leaking wet batteries on how to prepare these items for transport.

PHMSA had received a request for a letter of interpretation) to clarify whether a shipper of a damaged wet battery could use the exception from full regulation provided in 49 CFR 173.159(e). In response, PHMSA stated that a damaged battery could be shipped in accordance with 49 CFR 173.159(e) provided: 1) It has been drained of battery fluid to eliminate the potential for leakage during transportation; 2) it is repaired and/or packaged in such a manner that leakage of battery fluid is not likely to occur under conditions normally incident to transportation; or 3) the damaged or leaking battery is transported under the provisions of 49 CFR173.3(c).

PHMSA proposed adding a new paragraph (j) to 49 CFR173.159 to address this provision. However, a final rule published January 21, 2016, added a paragraph (j) to account for nickel cadmium batteries containing liquid potassium hydroxide. Therefore, all references to the previously proposed paragraph (j) are being moved to the new paragraph (k).

Based on comment that the industry standard for shipping damaged batteries in leak-proof packaging (i.e., single polyethylene bag) was absent from paragraph (j), PHMSA amended paragraph (k) (i.e., previously proposed paragraph (j)) to allow for this packing method. The agency also amended the regulatory text to consolidate the previously proposed (j)(2) and (3) into one paragraph, now (k)(2) and included a provision to clarify the eligibility of damaged wet batteries for exception under paragraph (e) when transported in accordance with 49 CFR 173.159(k).

PHMSA has added a new paragraph (k) to 173.159 to address the need for provisions that allow shippers to prepare for transport and offer into transportation damaged wet electric storage batteries for purposes of recycling. Note that in addition to the conditions listed in paragraph (k), damaged wet electric storage batteries must also meet requirements of 49 CFR 173.159(a).

PHMSA also reinserted language into 49 CFR 173.159(e)(4) indicating that the transport vehicle may not carry material shipped by any person other than the shipper of the batteries. As revised by HM-253, 49 CFR 173.159(e)(4) now states that a carrier may accept shipments of batteries from multiple locations for the purpose of consolidating shipments of batteries for recycling, which creates confusion in the context of the section. The intent of the HM-253 final rule was to allow carriers to consolidate shipments of batteries from multiple locations for the purpose of recycling. To correct this inadvertent deletion, in this final rule PHMSA revised 49 CFR 173.159(e)(4) by retaining the previous text and providing a clear exception when batteries are consolidated for recycling. The effective date for the rule is July 5, 2016, although voluntary compliance was authorized immediately.

Emergency Phone Numbers Can’t Have Words or Letters Any More

Based on a petition from the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council, the DOT has adopted a new rule requiring that emergency numbers on hazardous material bills of lading must be numeric—meaning that words and letters will no longer be authorized. Although phones years ago had letters under each number, such as ABC under the 2, many newer phones only have numbers. Therefore, to eliminate delay during an emergency, only numbers can be used for emergency phone numbers used to comply with 49 CFR 172.604. The effective date for the rule is July 5, 2016.

New Groundwater Quality Standard for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) announced recently that it has filed an emergency rule to establish ambient groundwater quality standards (AGQS) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). NHDES has set three groundwater standards: 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA, 70 ppt for PFOS and 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS combined, where the chemicals are found together. These standards give NHDES the authority to direct site remediation activities related to these contaminants, and also require public water systems to comply with these standards if these contaminants are found in their sources of drinking water. The emergency rule is effective immediately for 180 days, during which time NHDES will be undertaking a regular rulemaking process to adopt rules on a long-term basis. The regular rulemaking process will include opportunities for public input.

NHDES has established these AGQS based on the lifetime health advisories (HAs) released by the EPA on May 19, 2016. NHDES carefully reviewed the HAs and all of the supporting materials used by EPA in establishing the HAs, and determined that the HAs are protective of the public health, both for short-term and long-term exposure periods, and are appropriate for adoption as state ambient groundwater quality standards to prevent risks to public health.

For more information about NHDES’s investigation into PFCs found in southern New Hampshire drinking water, please visit http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pfoa.htm.

Canada and the United States Target Reductions in 8 Chemicals of Concern

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna recently announced that Canada and the U.S. have agreed to target reductions of eight chemicals.

The two countries agreed to target a new list of Chemicals of Mutual Concern (CMCs) to protect public health and the environment in the Great Lakes region under Annex 3 of the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

“Designating these Chemicals of Mutual Concern puts us on the road to reducing them to protect the public health and water quality of the Great Lakes region,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Together with Canada and the region’s partners, we’re making the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement work hard for the tens of millions of people who live, work and play around these magnificent water bodies.”

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Hon. Catherine McKenna said, “A safe and secure water supply is critical for human health, the environment and the economy. The joint designation of these chemicals of mutual concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is yet another example of Canada’s commitment to keep our Great Lakes great through collaboration and sound science.”

Following an extensive, collaborative and transparent process, the following chemicals were designated as the first Chemicals of Mutual Concern under the new Agreement:

  • Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
  • Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS)
  • Long-Chain Perfluorocarboxylic Acids (LC-PFCAs)
  • Mercury
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs)

Through the Agreement, Canada and the United States committed to protect human health and the environment through cooperative and coordinated measures to reduce the release of chemicals to the Great Lakes. The Agreement requires the two governments to prepare binational strategies to reduce exposure to the new CMCs and to coordinating the development and application of domestic water quality standards, objectives, criteria and guidelines, as appropriate.

Revised ASTM Standard Guide for Greener Cleanups

The ASTM Standard Guide for Greener Cleanups (E2893-16) is intended to encourage property owners, regulatory agencies, responsible parties, developers, and communities to voluntarily use greener practices for contaminated site cleanup. EPA representatives recently worked with ASTM International to update the standard guide, which was originally issued in 2013.

The revised standard released by ASTM International in May 2016 contains refinements to the "Greener Cleanup BMP Table" appearing as Appendix X3 and continues to describe a process for identifying, evaluating, and incorporating best management practices (BMPs) and options for quantifying the environmental footprint of a cleanup. For more information about and to purchase the revised standard, visit http://www.astm.org/Standards/E2893.htm. For background and additional information about greener cleanups, visit https://clu-in.org/greenremediation/.

Updated Rule to Cap Carbon Pollution in Washington State

After incorporating feedback from business and environmental stakeholders, the Washington Department of Ecology has released an updated version of the state’s first-ever rule to cap carbon pollution. The Clean Air Rule will reduce carbon pollution to help slow climate change.

Ecology withdrew its original draft of the Clean Air Rule in order to act quickly on improvements and to stay on track with adopting the rule by late summer. Now the agency wants to hear from the public and is accepting comments on the rule.

"Carbon pollution has reached rampant levels and we're committed to capping and reducing it," said Sarah Rees, Ecology's special assistant on climate change policy. "Climate change is the most significant environmental issue of our lifetime, and governments need to act now to protect what we have today for future generations."

Washington faces severe economic impacts from the changing climate. The proposed rule would set limits on carbon pollution (GHGs) to help slow climate change and limit expected damage to the state’s rich agricultural resources, drinking water supplies, and infrastructure.

Some of the changes made to the rule include incorporating mechanisms to ensure emissions are reduced while supporting business growth, recognizing early actions already taken to reduce emissions, and an effective pathway for power plants.

The rule would require businesses and organizations that are responsible for large amounts of GHGs like natural gas distributors, petroleum product producers and importers, power plants, metal manufacturers, waste facilities, and others to show once every three years that they’re reducing their emissions an average of 1.7% annually.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed rule through July 22, 2016, on Ecology’s website. Comments also can be emailed to aqcomments@ecy.wa.gov or mailed to Sam Wilson, Air Quality, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504.

Informational meetings and public hearings on the rule will be held by webinar and in person in June and July. Visit Ecology’s website for details.

ProUCL 5.1 is Now Available

The EPA Site Characterization and Monitoring Technical Support Center (SCMTSC) has updated ProUCL to version 5.1.00 (5.1). ProUCL version 5.1 is a comprehensive free statistical software package with statistical methods and graphical tools to address many environmental sampling and statistical issues. Version 5.1 is a general update to version 5.0 correcting known bugs, crashes, and unhandled exceptions (e.g., on bad data sets). In ProUCL 5.1, enhancements have been made in the Trend Analysis option of the Statistical Test module. ProUCL 5.1 computes and outputs residuals for the non-parametric T-S trend line which may be helpful to compute a prediction band around the T-S trend line. In addition to generating Q-Q plots based upon detected observations, the Goodness of Fit Tests (GoF) option of the Statistical Tests module of 5.1 generates censored probability plots for data sets with NDs. Some changes have also been made in the decision table used to make suggestions for UCL selection based upon a gamma distribution. Download the software at http://www.epa.gov/land-research/proucl-software.

Criminal Hazardous Waste Charges Against Panda International Trading Co. Inc.

A California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) investigation has led to the filing of felony complaints by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office against both Panda International Trading Co., Inc. (Panda) and its owner Da Xiong Pan. The complaint alleges five felony counts for violation of California’s hazardous waste control laws.

Pan pled not guilty to all counts during his arraignment on Friday, May 27, 2016. His next court hearing is set for July 15, 2016.

After obtaining a search warrant in 2013, DTSC’s Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) collected evidence that indicates the company released toxic levels of metal particulates onto the public sidewalk in front of its facility in Maywood, Los Angeles County.

The criminal complaint filed April 28, 2016, states that Panda and its owner knowingly disposed of, treated and stored hazardous waste (copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, nickel, chromium) at the facility without a permit from DTSC.

Panda is a scrap metal recycler that receives, handles, and stores cathode ray tubes and universal waste, such as old household appliances. Cathode ray tubes contain lead and other metals. Improper handling of these hazardous wastes may result in a release of toxic metals into the environment.

“This criminal filing is a textbook example of how hazardous waste violations are discovered, investigated and prosecuted,” said Hansen Pang, DTSC’s Chief Investigator for OCI.

Documents pertaining to this case can be found here.

Acme Foundry Fined $28,975 for Industrial Stormwater Violations

EPA Region 7 reached an administrative settlement with Acme Foundry, Inc., of Coffeyville, Kansas, to resolve industrial stormwater violations under the Clean Water Act. Under the settlement, Acme Foundry must comply with its industrial stormwater permit, pay a penalty of $28,975, and implement a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP).

EPA investigations in March 2015 found that Acme Foundry, Inc., failed to comply with its industrial stormwater permit due to unauthorized discharges containing pollutants. The company failed to:

  • Develop and update an adequate stormwater pollution prevention plan
  • Implement best management practices to reduce the amount of pollutants in stormwater
  • Perform facility inspections
  • Conduct annual comprehensive site compliance evaluations
  • Conduct visual stormwater monitoring
  • Conduct employee training

Under a previously issued administrative compliance order, Acme Foundry is addressing each of the violations, and will install and maintain structural and non-structural controls to bring the facility into compliance with its industrial stormwater permit.

Under this settlement, Acme Foundry will pay a $28,975 penalty for their alleged stormwater permit violations and complete a SEP by January 1, 2017, estimated at $600,000, to replace the existing wet scrubber air emissions control with a fabric filter, reducing air emissions.

Material handling and storage, equipment maintenance and cleaning, and other activities at industrial facilities are often exposed to the weather. Runoff from rainfall or snowmelt that comes in contact with these activities can transport pollutants directly to a nearby river or lake, or indirectly via a storm sewer and degrade water quality.

The Clean Water Act seeks to protect streams and wetlands that form the foundation of our nation’s water resources, which are critical in adapting to climate change impacts like drought, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures.

The settlement is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final. The public comment period began on May 19, 2016. Information on how to submit comments is available online.

Organic Resource Management Inc. and St. Louis Composting Inc. Fined for Clean Water Act Violations

EPA Region 7 has reached a proposed settlement of Clean Water Act violations by Organic Resource Management, Inc. (ORMI), and its parent company, St. Louis Composting, Inc. As part of the settlement, the companies have agreed to pay a cash penalty of $24,000, perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) projected to cost the company $36,000, and retain a consultant to conduct compliance audits at its other facilities.

An EPA inspection found the ORMI facility in Fort Bellefontaine, Missouri, discharged pollutants in excess of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits into a tributary of Coldwater Creek. Coldwater Creek is currently on Missouri’s list of impaired waters for chlorides and E. coli. The facility was also found by EPA to be in violation of its permit for failure to submit and/or retain monitoring and inspection reports, failure to conduct required site inspections, and failure to submit annual reports.

To resolve the violations, the companies entered into administrative orders with EPA. Under one order, ORMI agreed to pay a $24,000 cash settlement and build stormwater retention basins to reduce or eliminate stormwater discharges at its Trojan Park development in Wellston, Mo. The park is part of a larger “urban greenway” development designed to build green spaces in underserved communities. The basins are designed to retain stormwater, reduce runoff from storm events, and serve as butterfly habitats.

Under a previous compliance order, St. Louis Composting, Inc., will retain a third-party consultant to perform compliance audits at each of the company’s six composting facilities in the St. Louis area. The consultant will evaluate compliance with NPDES permits and the Clean Water Act. St. Louis Composting, Inc., will submit a plan to EPA to address any noncompliance identified by the consultant.

The Clean Water Act seeks to protect streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Pollutants in stormwater can violate water quality standards, pose risks to human health, threaten aquatic life and its habitat, and impair the use and enjoyment of waterways. Protecting streams and wetlands is also part of adapting to climate change impacts like drought, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures.

The cash penalty settlement with ORMI is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final. Information on how to submit comments is available online.

Newport Biodiesel Inc. to Pay $396,000 for Clean Air Act Violations

The EPA and U.S. Department of Justice have settled an environmental enforcement case with Newport Biodiesel, Inc., resulting in reduced air emissions and improved safety controls at the company's biodiesel manufacturing plant in Newport, Rhode Island. EPA and DOJ alleged that Newport Biodiesel violated various Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements for hazardous air pollutants and chemical accident prevention, and also violated oil spill planning and chemical reporting requirements. Newport Biodiesel has corrected these violations and installed new air pollution control and safety equipment at its manufacturing facility. Under the settlement consent decree, which was lodged in federal district court recently, the company will also pay a $396,000 fine.

Biodiesel is an environmentally important product, but commercial biodiesel manufacturing uses large amounts of methanol, which is a toxic and highly flammable liquid. Methanol requires special firefighting attention because it burns with little visible flame and stays flammable even when mixed with large quantities of water. Methanol is also listed as a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Consequently, it is vital that biodiesel manufacturers fully comply with CAA emission and chemical safety requirements.

When EPA began this enforcement action in 2013, the Newport Biodiesel facility had no control system for its methanol emissions. In 2014, EPA and Newport Biodiesel signed an administrative order on consent (AOC) in which the company agreed to comply with CAA hazardous air pollution standards and control its methanol emissions. Under the AOC, Newport Biodiesel designed and installed a new emissions control system that began operating in December 2015. These controls will reduce the facility's methanol emissions by about 15 tons per year. Under the judicial settlement, Newport Biodiesel will conduct performance testing to confirm the proper operation of these controls.

During this enforcement action, Newport Biodiesel also installed a new fire suppression system to comply with the CAA's chemical accident prevention provisions, which include a general duty clause requiring that facilities be designed to prevent and mitigate chemical accidents. Previously, there was no automatic fire suppression in the company's main manufacturing building. Newport Biodiesel worked with local fire officials to develop an appropriate fire suppression system for the facility. The new system was installed and began operating in December 2015.

The recent settlement concludes the first civil judicial action against a biodiesel manufacturer for violations of CAA hazardous air pollutant regulations and chemical accident prevention standards. EPA and DOJ's enforcement action and Newport Biodiesel's cooperation throughout the case has resulted in improved safety at the company's facility and cleaner air for the surrounding Newport community.

Apart from the CAA violations, Newport Biodiesel also violated Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know Act reporting requirements by failing to file certain chemical inventory forms with emergency response authorities, and violated Clean Water Act regulations by failing to prepare and implement an oil spill prevention and control plan. These violations were corrected in 2013-14.

The proposed consent decree, lodged in the District of Rhode Island, is subject to a public comment requirements and court review and approval.

Sheep Farmer and Overseers Unlawfully Uses Hazardous Pesticide, Causing Death of Bald Eagles

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced charges filed against sheep farmer William Wentling, 67, and his overseers Eli Byler, 41, and Jonathan Byler, 19, for using an acutely hazardous pesticide which caused the death of bald eagles. Wentling and the Bylers are charged with Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Second Degree, a class D felony, and the Unlawful Use of a Restricted Use Pesticide, an unclassified misdemeanor.

"The alleged actions show a blatant disregard for the environment and local wildlife," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "My office will continue to work cooperatively with other law enforcement agencies to ensure that the state's laws are enforced and its environment protected.

These charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in conjunction with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

“After the devastating impact to bald eagle populations from the use of pesticides like DDT in the 1960's and 70's, New York State has worked hard to reintroduce and restore this majestic bird to the New York landscape," DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Using a pesticide that is known to be fatal in small quantities to wildlife and targeting protected birds like bald eagles for poisoning is unacceptable and a major setback to our restoration of this iconic bird. This is a crime against wildlife and the environment, and I applaud the multi-agency effort that brought these criminals to justice.”

According to the felony complaint filed by the Attorney General's Office, Wentling operated a sheep farm located in Tuscarora, New York, at which the Bylers were the overseers. In the late winter and spring of 2015, the Wentling farm had been having problems with hawks killing lambs on the farm. Wentling allegedly instructed the Bylers to stay on top of the bird problems with the sheep, directing them to a jug marked "poison" with a drawing of a skull and cross bones on it. The Bylers allegedly poured the contents of the jug onto sheep carcasses located on the farm.

In March 2015, DEC investigators executed a search warrant at Wentling's Farm and recovered the jug. Laboratory analysis by DEC determined the jug allegedly contained carbofuran. Pursuant to the New York Code of Rules and Regulations and the Environmental Conservation Law, carbofuran is an acutely hazardous substance and a restricted use pesticide. It is illegal to knowingly release a substance acutely hazardous to public health, safety, or the environment and to possess or use any restricted use pesticide without a permit.

Also according to the Attorney General's complaint, in March and May of 2015, two dead bald eagles were found on property adjacent to Wentling's sheep farm. Also in April of 2015, one dead red-tailed hawk was found on Wentling's sheep farm near a sheep carcass. Laboratory analysis by DEC determined that the cause of death for the bald eagles and the hawk was carbofuran poisoning. Also, laboratory analysis of soil under the sheep carcass demonstrated the presence of carbofuran.

Bald eagles and red-tailed hawks are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Yesterday, in Tuscarora Town Court, the Bylers were arraigned on a felony complaint charging the three with one count of violating Environmental Conversation Law Section 71-2713(2), Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Second Degree, a Class D felony, and one count of violating Environmental Conservation Law Sections 33-1301(1)(a) and 71-2907(3), Use of an Unregistered Pesticide, an unclassified misdemeanor. The next court date on the matter is scheduled for July 26, 2016.

Attorney General Schneiderman thanked the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for their valuable work on this investigation.

Belfast, Maine Processor Provides Emergency Response Equipment to Community under EPA Settlement

Penobscot McCrum, a Belfast, Maine company that runs an ammonia refrigeration system at its potato processing plant, has agreed to pay $60,500 in civil penalties and to spend $83,400 on equipment for emergency responders and on public safety improvements at its facility to resolve claims by the EPA that it violated federal clean air laws in its use of ammonia.

According to an agreement with EPA’s New England office, Penobscot McCrum will ensure that trained emergency responders are available to respond quickly to any ammonia release at the facility to limit the consequences of any ammonia release that might occur.

Penobscot McCrum agreed to provide emergency response equipment to the Belfast Fire Department and state Department of Environmental Protection to improve their abilities to detect and safely respond to releases of ammonia and other toxic substances. The company will also install an enhanced ammonia detection system, alarm system, and a security system at the plant, which will provide early identification of ammonia releases and early notification to first responders, employees, and the local population.

This case stems from an October 2014 inspection where EPA found eight potential violations of the Clean Air Act and its Risk Management Plan regulations. Among the alleged violations, inspectors found that the manner in which the facility was maintained undermined the facility’s ability to prevent or respond to a potential ammonia release in several ways, including: failure to maintain the ammonia refrigeration system in a manner consistent with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices and failing to have an adequate emergency response program.

“EPA’s biggest concern was that the closest emergency responders specially trained to respond to ammonia releases were located about an hour away, yet the facility was in a downtown location where a release of this toxic gas could quickly injure people,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Ammonia is a useful refrigerant with some environmental advantages, but companies must operate safely and follow federal regulations.”

Anhydrous ammonia is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs. Exposure at high concentrations is immediately dangerous to life and health. Ammonia is flammable at certain concentrations in air and can explode if released in an enclosed space with a source of ignition present, or if a vessel containing anhydrous ammonia is exposed to fire.

Facilities operating systems with more than 10,000 lb of anhydrous ammonia are subject to the Risk Management Plan regulations of the Clean Air Act, while smaller refrigeration systems are subject to the General Duty Clause of the Clean Air Act.

Environmental News Links

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Washington Oil Transportation Safety Rules Ready for Public Review

At Least 33 US Cities Used Water Testing 'Cheats' over Lead Concerns

Canada, U.S. Warn of Eight Chemicals in Great Lakes

World Leaders Expand Clean Energy Research Push

Toxic Chemical Filled Semi-Truck Turns Over

Trivia Question of the Week

Peak energy use on the hottest summer days is higher than the coldest winter days.

a) True

b) False

Answer