The nanoscale reporting rule that appeared in the Federal Register of January 12, 2017, requires persons who manufacture (defined by statute to include import) or process, or intend to manufacture or process those chemical substances subject to the rule to report to EPA the specific chemical identity, production volume, methods of manufacture and processing, exposure and release information, and existing information concerning environmental and health effects.
EPA just announced the availability of and requesting public comment on the draft guidance document, entitled, “Guidance on EPA’s Section 8(a) Information Gathering Rule on Nanomaterials in Commerce.” This draft guidance provides answers to questions the Agency has received from manufacturers (includes importers) and processors regarding the rule.
This guidance provides answers to questions the Agency has received from manufacturers, importers, and processors of certain chemical substances when they are manufactured or processed at the nanoscale as described in a final rule that appeared in the Federal Register of January 12, 2017. That rule involves one-time reporting for existing discrete forms of certain nanoscale materials, and a standing one-time reporting requirement for new discrete forms of certain nanoscale materials.
Baltimore RCRA, DOT, and IATA Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Baltimore, MD, on June 6–8 and save $100. Learn how to ship dangerous goods by air at Transportation of Dangerous Goods: How to Comply with IATA Regulations on June 9. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Orlando RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Orlando, FL, on June 13–15 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here 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 13–15 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
EPA Launches New Waters of the US Website
EPA has launched a new Waters of the US website to provide the public with information about EPA’s review of the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) as set out in the 2015 Clean Water Rule.” The site replaces the website developed for the 2015 rulemaking process.
“EPA is restoring states’ important role in the regulation of water by reviewing WOTUS,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “The president has directed us to review this regulation to address the concerns from farmers and local communities that it creates unnecessary burdens and inhibits economic growth. This website aims to provide the public with information about our actions to meet the president’s directive.”
In the spirit of transparency, the site will provide the public with relevant information explaining the Agency’s actions, along with the Department of the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers (the agencies), to review the WOTUS rule, including how the agencies are working with our local, state and tribal partners, to examine our role in the regulation of water under the Clean Water Act. All the pages, information and documentation from the 2015 Clean Water Rule site will remain available in the EPA archived site, archive.epa.gov.
EPA is initiating consultation and coordination with stakeholders and the public as the agencies implement the February 28, 2017, Presidential Executive Order on “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.”
The February Order states that it is in the national interest to ensure that the Nation’s navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the States under the Constitution. It also directs the agencies to review the existing Clean Water Rule (promulgated in 2015) for consistency with these priorities and to publish for notice and comment a proposed rule rescinding or revising the rule, as appropriate and consistent with the law. Further, the Order directs the agencies to consider interpreting the term “navigable waters,” as defined in the Clean Water Act at 33 U.S.C. 1362(7), in a manner consistent with the opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006). “Waters of the United States” are those waters that are protected under the Clean Water Act.
To meet these objectives, the agencies intend to follow an expeditious, two-step process that will provide certainty across the country:
- An initial rulemaking to rescind the 2015 rule and recodify the regulatory definition that had been in place for decades and is currently being used in light of a nationwide stay of the 2015 rule, and thus maintains the status quo; and
- A rulemaking to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with direction in the February 28, 2017, Presidential Executive Order
Cap-and-Trade Money is Used for California Transportation Projects
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced the launch of Moving California, an easy-to-use website that showcases how proceeds from the cap-and-trade program are funding a wide variety of ultra-clean and zero-emission trucks, buses, cars, and low-carbon transportation projects throughout the state. Moving California also offers tools to help consumers and others find funding and transportation opportunities that meet their individual needs.
“Moving California is a user-friendly website that provides clear guidance to consumers and communities about how they can be part of the transformation in California to zero- and ultra-clean cars, trucks and buses,” said Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “It also highlights the successes of these programs, showing how proceeds from the cap-and-trade program are improving the quality of life of individuals and neighborhoods throughout California.”
The Low Carbon Transportation program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.
To date more than $600 million in cap-and-trade investments have helped deliver approximately 115,000 zero-emission and plug in cars; 46 heavy duty zero-emission trucks; 950 zero-emission delivery, utility and refuse trucks; 407 zero-emission transit buses, shuttles and light rail cars; and 29 electric school buses in California.
The website was designed so users are never more than “two clicks” away from the desired information. It provides education and awareness of clean transportation options, along with downloadable fact sheets, and a listing of community events. It also provides information on available funding programs and potential co-benefits for businesses, non-profits, and government agencies.
Moving California highlights many ongoing projects such as the innovative new zero-emission car-sharing programs in disadvantaged neighborhoods, low-carbon agricultural worker van-pools in the San Joaquin Valley, and pilot projects to help low-income consumers afford the cleanest vehicles on the market. The website also features testimonials from community members who have benefited from these programs.
$225 Million Settlement in VW Diesel Emissions Case
Volkswagen (VW) will pay $225 million, including $66 million to California, for harm resulting from the sale of its 3.0-liter diesel passenger cars that included emissions control defeat devices, under recent partial Consent Decrees.
U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer signed the agreements between the automaker, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the U.S. EPA, and the U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ). One decree is a national agreement; the second is California-specific. California will receive $41 million from the national agreement and $25 million under the California agreement.
“These agreements close another chapter in one of the most sordid efforts to evade air quality regulations ever uncovered by CARB’s engineers and technicians,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “It is now time to get on with the serious business of mitigating the environmental harm caused in this case, and continue our efforts to make sure nothing like this occurs again.”
VW admitted to CARB engineers in November 2015 that it installed “defeat devices” that altered the operation of emissions control equipment in light-duty, 3.0-liter passenger vehicles manufactured and sold between model years 2009 and 2016. There are approximately 87,000 of these vehicles in the U.S. and about 17,000 in California.
This is a separate partial consent decree from one approved earlier for harm from VW’s 2.0-liter diesel cars with a similar defeat device.
California will receive about $41 million from the national mitigation trust for the environmental damage caused by VW’s deception. This money will be spent on projects to reduce smog-producing pollution, such as incentivizing clean, heavy-duty vehicles and equipment in disadvantaged communities. In a separate California decree, an additional $25 million dollars will be invested to advance availability of cleaner vehicles in California’s disadvantaged communities. The two sums together will provide funding to mitigate all past and future environmental harm resulting from the operation of the 3.0-liter vehicles in California.
The state will undertake a public process to allow members of the Legislature and the public to provide input and comments on potential mitigation projects to be funded by the settlement.
VW also agrees to place a second Green City project in California. This could include such features as zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) ridesharing projects or ZEV transit and freight applications. The selected city must have a population of about 500,000 and consist primarily of disadvantaged communities. A first Green City was called out in the Consent Decree for the 2.0 liter vehicles. No city has yet been named.
In addition, VW will contribute to California’s ZEV market by introducing two new ZEV models, plus the electric e-Golf, or its replacement, by 2019. One of those new vehicles must be an electric SUV. The company will also introduce a second SUV by 2020. It must collectively sell at least 35,000 of these various ZEV models between 2019 and 2025.
Following publication of a report indicating high emissions from Volkswagen vehicles in over-the-road testing, CARB conducted a focused investigation which ultimately led to Volkswagen’s admission in September 2015 that the company had installed defeat devices in all of its 2.0 liter diesel vehicles manufactured between model years 2009 and 2015.
This was followed in November 2015 by an admission by Audi engineers that 3.0 liter diesel passenger cars manufactured by VW, Audi, and Porsche in model years 2009–2016 also contain defeat devices. VW owns all three manufacturers.
Affected 3.0 diesel models include:
- 2009 VW Touareg, Audi Q7
- 2010 VW Touareg, Audi Q7
- 20011 VW Touareg, Audi Q7
- 2012 VW Touareg, Audi Q7
- 2013 VW Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne Diesel
- 2014 VW Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne Diesel
- 2014 Audi A6, A7, A8, A8L, Q5
- 2015 Audi Q7, A6, A7, A8, A8L, Q5
- 2015 VW Touareg, Porsche Cayenne Diesel
- 2016 VW Touareg, Porsche Cayenne Diesel, Audi A6, A7, A8, A8L, Q5
Because CARB’s technical staff played a chief role in revealing VW’s deceit, and due to CARB’s longstanding role in setting and enforcing tough vehicle standards, California played a major role in leading, shaping, and structuring the Consent Decrees.
In California, VW’s cheating was particularly harmful, because the state’s air quality is worse than anywhere else in the nation. Ten million people live within the nation’s only severe nonattainment areas for ozone pollution, of which NOx is a primary component. Twelve million Californians live in areas with nation-leading levels of fine particle pollution.
These pollutants cause lung disease, heart disease, and premature death, especially among our most vulnerable populations. To put California on track to ensure healthy air for all, California has adopted the most stringent air quality regulatory and enforcement program in the U.S.
As a result of the 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter Consent Decrees, California is expected to be allocated a total of about $423 million from an Environmental Mitigation Trust, explained in the first Consent Decree. That money is to mitigate the lifetime excess NOx emissions of the VW vehicles with the defeat device. Under the terms of the Consent Decree VW must invest $800 million for zero-emission vehicle projects in California over a 10-year period.
CARB Announces Emissions Modification for More VW Diesel Vehicles
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced that eleven thousand more Volkswagen 2.0 liter diesel vehicles in California have been approved for emissions modifications required to reverse the effects of “defeat devices” installed by the company. The modification approval for the so-called ‘Gen 2’ automatic 2-liter diesel engine found in model years 2012–2014. That approval covers about 10,600 vehicles in California.
There are approximately 590 vehicles from this group with manual transmissions in California, and they are not covered by this approval. VW has been unable to demonstrate the required compliance, and is reevaluating its proposed emissions modification for these cars.
“Today’s approval is another important step in efforts to repair the environmental harm caused by these vehicles and their excess emissions in California, while giving the affected consumers another choice for resolution” said Executive Officer Richard Corey. “We are advancing on the technical fixes per the settlement agreement as expeditiously as possible. So today’s approval is not the end of the story. VW must still successfully modify thousands of earlier model vehicles, or prepare to buy them back.”
The Generation 2 vehicles are among more than 70,000 2.0 liter diesel cars with defeat devices sold in California. There are nearly a half-million 2.0 liter VWs and Audis with defeat devices nationwide. In the worst cases these vehicles were emitting up to 40 times the allowed levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx). NOx is a primary contributor to ozone (smog) and California has the worst areas in the country for ozone pollution.
The Gen 2 automatic cars now join the Gen 3 cars which received their modification approval on January 6, 2017.
Modifications for the approximately 49,000 Gen 1 cars, the earliest models from model years 2009–2014, are still being evaluated.
Engineering is also underway for possible modification of the 17,000, 2009–2016, 3.0 liter diesel vehicles which have defeat devices. Modifications have not yet been approved for those vehicles. If you have one of the affected vehicles, this website contains additional details on your options.
Connecticut Sues EPA to Require Action on Petition to Reduce Emissions from Pennsylvania Coal Plant
Connecticut has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut against the EPA for failure to take timely action on a petition from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) asking the EPA to take action to stop pollution from a Pennsylvania coal-fired power plant from impacting Connecticut.
The filing was made on May 16 with the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, by the Office of the Connecticut Attorney General. In the action, the Attorney General claims that EPA has failed to act on a Clean Air Act Section 126 petition filed by Connecticut with EPA on June 1, 2016. The petition asked EPA to require the Brunner Island Steam Electric Station in York County, Pennsylvania, to reduce air pollution generated from its three coal-fired electric generating units because they contribute to bad air quality and public health issues in Connecticut.
“We are entering the season of hot summer days when ozone pollution is at its worst and Connecticut was counting on upwind emissions reductions from this coal plant to reduce nitrogen oxide, a main precursor to ozone formation,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “EPA’s lack of action continues the exposure of our citizens to unhealthy air when it is clear that this plant significantly contributes to our pollution and needs to be controlled.”
The Attorney General’s office had sent a citizen suit notice on March 9, 2017, notifying EPA of the State’s intention to sue if EPA did not act on the Section 126 petition within 60 days.
In filing the lawsuit, Attorney General George Jepsen said, “The EPA’s failure to act on the petition has harmed and continues to harm our State and its citizens and residents, by delaying action to address the interstate transport of air pollution from Brunner Island. This pollution significantly contributes to nonattainment of the 2008 ozone NAAQS in Connecticut, to the detriment of the health and welfare of everyone in our state.”
Under Section 126 of the federal Clean Air Act, states can petition the EPA Administrator for a finding that a stationary source in another state emits or would emit an air pollutant in violation of the Act. The Administrator must make the requested finding or deny the petition within 60 days after receipt of the petition, and after a public hearing. Once EPA makes a finding, the Act requires that the violating source not operate three months after the finding regardless of whether the source has been operating under a duly issued state operating permit. The Administrator may allow the source to operate beyond such time only if the source complies with emission limitations and compliance schedules as the Administrator may direct to bring about compliance.
The Brunner Island Steam Electric Station owned by Talen Energy is a bituminous coal-fired electricity generating facility located in York County in Southeastern Pennsylvania on the Susquehanna River. The plant has three major boiler units that commenced operating in 1961, 1965, and 1969, and have a combined capacity of over 1500 MW. Brunner Island is the sixth largest coal plant in the state, and the three coal-fired electric generating units (“EGUs”) at Brunner Island together emitted about 11,000 tons of NOx in 2014. By comparison, Connecticut’s largest NOx EGU facility emitted less than 600 tons in 2014, and the total NOx emissions from all point sources combined in Connecticut was 8,800 tons.
Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award Winners Announced for 2017
EPA has announced that 33 companies and organizations being recognized as this year’s Safer Choice Partner of the Year. Recipients demonstrated leadership in furthering safer chemistry, and were evaluated against the following five criteria:
- Participation in the Safer Choice program
- Use of the Safer Choice label
- Promotion and use of products using the Safer Choice label
- Outreach and education on the Safer Choice Program to consumers and end users
- Innovations in safer chemistry and other efforts to advance the Safer Choice program
The organizations recognized as 2017 Safer Choice Partners follow.
- Amway Corporation, Ada, Michigan
- Anderson Chemical Company, Litchfield, Minnesota
- Berkley Green, Uniontown, Pennsylvania
- Boulder Clean, Boulder, Colorado
- Case Medical, Inc., South Hackensack, New Jersey
- Clean Control Corporation, Warner Robins, Georgia
- Cot’n Wash, Inc. DBA dropps.com, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Earth Friendly Products, Garden Grove, California
- GOJO Industries, Inc., Akron, Ohio
- Jelmar, LLC, Skokie, Illinois
- Krud Kutter Inc. A Rust-Oleum Co., Cumming, Georgia
- Osprey Biotechnics, Inc., Sarasota, Florida
- PRIDE Industries, Roseville, California
- Reckitt Benckiser, LLC (RB), Parsippany, New Jersey
- Seventh Generation, Burlington, Vermont
- State Industrial Products, Mayfield Heights, Ohio
- The Clorox Company, Oakland, California
- AkzoNobel Surface Chemistry, Chicago, Illinois
- BASF Corporation, Florham Park, New Jersey
- JOSELI LLC, Reno, Nevada
- Rivertop Renewables, Missoula, Montana
- Stepan Company, Northfield, Illinois
- The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Michigan
Purchasers and Distributors
- Solutex, Inc., Sterling, Virginia
- Albertsons Companies, Boise, Idaho
- Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., Rochester, New York
- American Cleaning Institute, Washington, DC
- American Sustainable Business Council, Washington, DC
- Consumer Specialty Products Association, Washington, DC
- ISSA, The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, Northbrook, Illinois
- Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, Washington
- McFadden and Associates, LLC, Canby, Oregon
- The Ashkin Group, Los Angeles, California
Information about why each organization was selected is available on EPA’s Safer Choice Partner website.
President Trump Signs WIFIA Bill to Provide Help to Meet Communities’ Water Infrastructure Needs
EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program received an additional $8 million for credit subsidy in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on May 5, 2017.
This additional funding, combined with the $17 million appropriated for credit subsidy in December 2016, will allow the WIFIA program to lend approximately $1.5 billion for water infrastructure projects, a key component of the President’s infrastructure agenda.
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a new federal loan and guarantee program at EPA that aims to accelerate investment in our nation’s water by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects.
“Thanks to President Trump and Congress, this additional funding will accelerate the construction of projects to meet communities’ water infrastructure needs. This investment will empower states, municipalities, companies, and public-private partnerships to solve real environmental problems in our communities, like the need for clean and safe water,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
In response to the Notice of Funding Availability issued on January 10, 2017, EPA received 43 letters of interest for WIFIA loans from public and private entities with a collective request of $6 billion in WIFIA loans. These letters demonstrate the high need to invest in water infrastructure improvements in communities across the nation and the value that WIFIA financing can offer.
Combined with other sources, such as EPA’s State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans, private equity, and municipal bonds, these projects’ cost could address over $12 billion in infrastructure needs. Entities are seeking financing for a wide array of water and wastewater projects, including repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of aging treatment plants and pipe systems and construction of new infrastructure for desalination, water recycling, and drought mitigation.
EPA is currently evaluating projects eligibility, credit worthiness, engineering feasibility, and alignment with WIFIA’s statutory and regulatory criteria. Through this competitive process, EPA will select projects that it intends to fund and invite them to continue to the application process this summer.
Vopak to Reduce Hazardous Air Pollution at Chemical Storage Facility in Deer Park, Texas
The Department of Justice, EPA, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have announced an agreement with Vopak Terminal Deer Park Inc., and Vopak Logistics Services USA, Inc., that will improve air quality in the Houston area by strengthening air pollution controls and compliance with federal and state clean air laws at Vopak’s chemical storage terminal and wastewater treatment facility in Deer Park, Texas.
“This agreement means cleaner air for Houston and will improve Vopak’s compliance with important federal and state laws,” said Larry Starfield, acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is committed to working with state partners like Texas to achieve and ensure monitoring of compliance with environmental laws.”
“Today’s settlement reflects the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting clean air for the American people in partnership with the states,” said Jeffrey H. Wood, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The settlement will bring Vopak into compliance with federal and state clean air laws and will result in improved air quality for the residents of Harris County. We are proud to have partnered with Texas on this important result.”
Under the agreement, which resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations at the Deer Park facility, Vopak will install state-of-the-art air pollution controls at the facility’s wastewater treatment system, and will use infrared cameras to detect harmful air pollution from the facility’s chemical storage tanks that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. The company will also hire a third party auditor to improve how Vopak manages waste and evaluate its compliance with the agreement.
When fully operational, these measures will significantly cut emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants at Vopak’s bulk chemical storage terminal and wastewater treatment facility.
Vopak’s Deer Park facility is in Harris County, Texas, an area that is classified as non-attainment for ozone.
EPA, the Justice Department and the State of Texas alleged that Vopak failed to comply with Clean Air Act requirements to properly manage equipment, which resulted in excess emissions of acetone, benzene, styrene, and VOCs at an on-site wastewater treatment system. The federal government and Texas also alleged that Vopak failed to operate flares and chemical storage tanks in accordance with good air pollution practices, as required by state and federal law.
Ground level ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and VOCs in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs. Excessive levels of VOCs, hazardous air pollutants, and ozone can cause harmful effects to public health, particularly children and the elderly, including eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea and damage to liver, kidney and the central nervous system.
As part of the agreement, Vopak will also pay a civil penalty of $2.5 million, split between the U.S. and the State of Texas.
The agreement, a consent decree formalizing the settlement, was lodged with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
MassDEP Penalizes Property Owner $29,960 for Numerous Environmental Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $29,960 penalty on Wilbraham Land and Development, LLC, (WL&D) for failing to address numerous violations of Massachusetts environmental regulations identified at its Wilbraham property in the fall of 2016. WL&D is a Boston-based corporation that owns the property, a mill complex located at 176 Cottage Avenue.
MassDEP personnel performed inspections of the mill complex on October 27, 2016, and November 4, 2016, in response to an anonymous complaint regarding the presence of friable asbestos-containing materials at the property in poor condition. The inspections confirmed violations of state asbestos regulations, including improperly covered thermal system insulation (TSI), pieces of TSI on the boiler room floor, and the improper storage of removed asbestos-containing materials. A number of asbestos transite pipes were also stored at the facility.
Also found in the buildings were abandoned containers of unknown liquids, potentially hazardous waste or waste oil, piles of solid waste debris, including numerous scrap automobiles, tires, piles of construction and demolition debris and metal drums. A number of fluorescent bulbs and ballasts had been improperly disposed of with conventional solid waste. Finally, a leaking oil supply line was identified in the boiler room, with significant amounts of absorbent materials on the basement floor to collect and contain this oil.
MassDEP issued an order on December 16, 2016, and set a schedule for WL&D to correct the violations, develop a universal waste management plan, and investigate a potential abandoned fuel oil storage tank located below the boiler room floor. WL&D did not respond to or appeal the order. A follow-up inspection performed by MassDEP indicated that only limited actions had been taken by WL&D to address the requirements of the original order.
Prior to issuing the penalty, MassDEP requested that WL&D attend an enforcement conference to discuss the violations in an attempt to negotiate a consent order with a mutually agreeable schedule for addressing the violations. WL&D failed to attend the scheduled enforcement conference, resulting in MassDEP issuing the penalty of $29,960.
“MassDEP has made numerous attempts to assist Wilbraham Land and Development in complying with Massachusetts environmental regulations,” said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP’s Western Regional Office in Springfield. “It is regrettable that the failure to work cooperatively to address the necessary cleanup of the former mill complex has resulted in the assessment of this penalty. This could have been avoided.”
Cleanup Order Issued for Dry Cleaning Chemical at Lake Tahoe Laundry Works Site
The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a Cleanup and Abatement Order to the responsible parties of the Lake Tahoe Laundry Works site to identify and clean up a tetrachloroethylene (PCE) plume that has contaminated groundwater sources in the community of South Lake Tahoe, California.
The Lahontan Water Board issued the order in response to PCE impacting drinking water wells for two public water systems in the South Lake Tahoe area. The pollutant, commonly used in dry cleaning operations, is a regulated contaminant in drinking water that can cause adverse health effects, including an increased risk for cancer after long-term exposure.
“Protecting Lake Tahoe’s pristine drinking water supplies is a top priority for the Lahontan Water Board,” said Water Board Executive Director Patty Kouyoumdjian. “So understanding the full extent of this PCE plume is a big step in making sure this chemical doesn’t contaminate more drinking water sources, and that cleanup is done in a timely manner by the responsible parties.”
A laundry facility from the 1970s until 2011, the Lake Tahoe Laundry Works site likely spilled the PCE during delivery of the chemical. The responsible parties for the site, which is once again home to a laundromat, are Seven Springs Limited Partnership, Fox Capital Management Corporation, Bobby Pages, Inc., and Connolly Development.
Lahontan Water Board staff believe the PCE plume emanating from the site is not fully defined, and it is unknown if all the contamination is from the Lake Tahoe Laundry Works site, or other responsible parties. Because of this, the Lahontan Water Board issued its order to require the Laundry Works’ responsible parties to investigate and determine the complete extent of the PCE groundwater contamination and to cleanup and abate its effects.
U.S. Navy Facility in Cutler, Maine Has Taken Steps to Reduce Air Emissions under Agreement
The U.S. Navy has taken steps to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants from its stationary diesel generators under an agreement signed recently with the U.S. EPA.
The agreement relates to the Navy’s operation of large diesel powered engines used to generate electricity at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station, Atlantic Detachment, located in Cutler, Maine. The power needed to transmit messages and to de-ice the antennas is supplied by four 4,066 horsepower engines with the capability to generate 3,000 kW of electricity each, and one 906 horsepower engine that has the capability to generate 750 kW of electricity. All five of these engines are subject to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) for stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines.
To achieve compliance with the federal Clean Air Act requirements for the Navy’s large engines, the Navy has installed pollution control equipment on all five of the engines and has completed initial performance tests to demonstrate that the engines meet the national emissions standards. The Navy also submitted the required notifications and compliance status reports to EPA. Under the agreement, the Navy will also pay a penalty of $811,000 for its violations of the Clean Air Act.
By retrofitting its stationary diesel engines, the Navy is helping reduce hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde. Exposure to air toxics may produce a wide variety of health difficulties. Compliance with emission standards also helps reduce emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter. The health effects of these pollutants include a range of respiratory issues, especially asthma among children and seniors.
EPA’s website on Controlling Air Pollution from Stationary Engines contains additional resources about this and other important issues for federal facilities and the regulated community.
California Clean Fuels Rule Reports 100% Compliance
Further evidence that renewable transportation fuels are rapidly replacing fossil fuels was presented recently when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released the 2016 Compliance Report for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). It shows 100% compliance with the regulation.
“Full compliance is further evidence that the LCFS is working as designed,” said Executive Officer Richard Corey. “This means that cleaner, renewable fuels encouraged by the program are now replacing hundreds of millions of gallons of fossil fuel every year and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other pollutants.”
The LCFS requires transportation fuel producers to reduce the carbon intensity of their fuels 10% by 2020. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are counted at all stages of production, known as “well-to-wheel” life cycle analysis.
The LCFS was developed to help California achieve AB 32’s 2020 reduction target of a return to 1990 levels of GHG emissions. The program is also important for reaching the 2030 GHG reduction target set by the Governor and the Legislature. That new target requires GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels.
The program is providing consumers with an increasing volume of cleaner fuels. As an example, in 2016, renewable liquid fuels displaced over 400 million gallons of diesel, and more than 80 million gallons were displaced by renewable natural gas.
There are 224 companies reporting in the LCFS. Of those, 54 generated credit deficits for fuels with carbon intensity above the desired baseline and were required to make up for the shortfall. All obligations were fulfilled.
Since the start of the program in 2011, it has generated credits representing 25.6 million metric tons of GHG emission reductions. That equals over-compliance of 9.7 million metric tons, and means that GHG emission reductions are occurring ahead of schedule.
In 2016, the industry continued to over-comply with the regulation, generating 9.1 million credits against 6.8 million deficits. Full 2016 compliance information is available here.
New Local Response Plans Help Washington Communities Prepare for Train, Pipeline Oil Spills
New oil spill response plans from the Washington Department of Ecology will address the increasing chance of oil spills along train routes in central and eastern Washington. Six out of 11 new draft plans released for the public to review will cover areas on the east side of the mountains along oil train routes. Five plans in western Washington will address potential spills from pipelines and railroads.
The new “geographic response plans” take the guesswork out of the response during the first 12 hours of the spill. They signal where to place oil containment equipment and which agencies and governments to notify. They identify specific actions that can be taken locally to protect bird and fish habitat, wetlands, water intakes, fishing areas, fish hatcheries, boating areas and public parks and beaches, and cultural resources like petroglyphs, ancient tools, and fish weirs.
The plans are part of a larger effort that guides a coordinated response to oil spills in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, according to Dale Jensen, who manages Ecology’s Spills Program. “Geographic response plans build on our focus to prevent oil spills to water and land and are part of our up-front planning that helps us deliver a rapid, aggressive and well-coordinated response to oil and hazardous substance spills wherever they occur,” he said.
For decades, Ecology has prepared similar response plans for Puget Sound and other marine waters to ensure the state is ready for an accident involving tanker ships and refineries. The work has expanded due to the increasing amount of oil entering our state by railroads and pipelines.
The 11 new plans and their coverage areas:
- Lower Yakima River – 676 square miles in Benton, Kittitas, and Yakima counties
- Palouse – 253 square miles within Adams, Franklin and Whitman counties
- Puyallup-White Rivers – 207 square miles in Pierce and King counties
- Stillaguamish – 89 square miles in Snohomish County
- Upper Columbia River – 207 square miles in Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Kittitas counties
- Upper Green River – 120 square miles in King County
- Upper Yakima River – 439 square miles in Kittitas and Yakima counties
- Warden Washington – 131 square miles in Grant County
- Washington Deschutes – 312 square miles in Grays Harbor, Lewis and Thurston counties
- Wenatchee – 332 square miles in Chelan County.
Ecology plans to publish the 11 plans at the end of June along with plans for three additional new areas that were completed earlier this year, bringing the total number of geographic response plans in Washington to 41. The expansion of the plans in the state is a result of the 2015 Oil Transportation Safety Act, and highlights the state’s efforts to protect people and the environment from new oil spill risks.
New Publications Available from the TCEQ
Risk-based corrective action (RBCA) process guidance to achieve the risk assessment requirements within the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) Leaking Petroleum Storage Tank Program (LPST). Describes RBCA process to systematically progress the site towards closure.
This is a step-by-step workbook for recipients of TERP grants explaining what their grant requires of them. It covers three main topics: reimbursement disposition and usage and monitoring.
Guide to the Emissions Inventory for industrial facilities that produce air emissions and must report their annual emissions to the TCEQ.
Provides supporting documentation for surface water sediment and soil benchmarks part of the ecological risk assessment process. Use in conjunction with RG-263 and other companion documents and Excel file at www.tceq.texas.gov/goto/era.
Provides a brief organizational overview of the agency’s primary offices and functions including main telephone numbers and names of management staff.
Aids registered corrective action specialists and licensed corrective-action-project managers in the development and design of an operation monitoring and performance (OMP) plan which is an integral component of any corrective action plan.
Contains guidelines for the selection development and design of a corrective action plan (CAP).
Listing of Small Business and Environmental Assistance staff in TCEQ’s regional offices.
Pennsylvania Proposes Plan to Improve Safe Drinking Water Oversight
In order to provide mandated protections to public drinking water, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed to increase the number of inspectors who ensure safe drinking water is delivered from the state’s more than 8,500 public water systems to more than 10 million Pennsylvania residents. To fund the positions, DEP proposed a new annual fee and amendments to existing permit fees for public water systems. The proposed fee package will allow DEP to expand the existing drinking water staff complement by more than 50% and improve inspection rates of public water systems.
“Years of under-investment in our safe drinking water oversight has put Pennsylvania in a precarious position,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP staff have done tremendous work to ensure that the water that we drink is safe and clean. But, we cannot continue with the staffing shortages we currently face.”
Over the past few months, the U.S. EPA has noted that DEP has one inspector for every 149 public water systems, more than double the national average of one inspector for every 67 systems. EPA has also warned that if inspection requirements are not met, Pennsylvania may lose primacy over Safe Drinking Water programs. Correspondence can be found on the DEP website http://www.dep.pa.gov/About/Testimony_and_Letters/Pages/Testimony.aspx.
The proposed package would increase fees for new or amended permits and impose annual fees for community water systems, non-community water systems, and bottled, vended, retail and bulk water suppliers. The fees are anticipated to raise $7.5 million in additional annual funding for the program.
The proposed fee package would add 33 new positions to the existing drinking water complement. The fee package would be the first increase to permitting fees since the fees were first implemented in 1984.
“It’s clear that the ever-expanding workload of inspections cannot be managed forever by the current staff levels,” said McDonnell. “These inspections cover the entirety of the water system, from the water source, through the treatment and storage, and finally the distribution to homes. We’re seeking these increases to make sure that we can continue DEP’s high-quality work and fulfill our responsibility to ensure clean drinking water sources to the people of Pennsylvania.”
Environmental News Links
Trivia Question of the Week
Of the nearly 1,200 Superfund sites in the US, approximately how many are abandoned military facilities or sites that otherwise support military needs?