New Guide for Long-Term Stormwater Planning

October 31, 2016

EPA recently announced a package of tools to help plan long-term strategies for managing stormwater pollution. According to EPA, the tools promote the use of flexible solutions that spur economic growth, stimulate infrastructure investments, and help compliance with environmental requirements.

EPA has released a step-by-step guide to help communities develop long-term stormwater plans, a web-based toolkit for the planning process, and technical assistance for five communities to develop plans as national models. This approach was built on input from states, communities, industry, academia, and nonprofits.

"When communities link the timing and implementation of stormwater projects with broader planning activities, they can reduce costs and support more sustainable local development," says Joel Beauvais, deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Water. “As stormwater increasingly threatens public health and the environment, EPA can help communities integrate stormwater management with broader plans for growing their economies, investing in critical infrastructure and meeting their water quality objectives.”

Initially the draft guide will be used by five communities selected for $150,000 each in technical assistance to develop long-term stormwater management plans:

  • Burlington, Iowa
  • Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Rochester, New Hampshire
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico

These communities will also be the beta testers for EPA’s web-based toolkit, which will be refined and released more broadly next year.

Each year billions of gallons of runoff laden with trash, nutrients, metals, and other pollutants flow into waterways. Stormwater runoff is one of the fastest growing sources of pollution across the country and it can overwhelm wastewater systems and overflow sewers. Many cities have utilized green infrastructure as part of a comprehensive, long-term approach to managing stormwater. Communities are finding the benefits from such approaches go well beyond helping to meet regulatory requirements and actually turn hazards into opportunities. Comprehensive, long-term plans can guide smart investments by tying together multiple community objectives like street improvements, outdoor open spaces, greenways or recreation areas, as well as community revitalization.

Williamsburg RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Williamsburg, VA, on November 8–10 and save $100. 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 November 15–17 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Charlotte RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Charlotte, NC, on November 29–December 1 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

New Hazardous Waste Export and Import Regulations

EPA finalized a rule to improve the nation’s hazardous waste regulations to protect public health and the environment. The updated Hazardous Waste Import and Export Regulations streamline the hazardous waste export and import process, implement mandatory electronic reporting for international shipments and electronically linking export information.

“EPA is dedicated to continuing to improve the tracking of hazardous waste exports and imports to provide a safe and healthy environment for all. This new rule will provide greater protection to communities from mismanagement of hazardous waste when it is shipped across multiple countries to be disposed or recycled,” said Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “The rule provides for improved transparency, data sharing and tracking for international shipments.”

The final rule, which becomes effective on December 31, 2016, improves and consolidates previous regulations so that one set of requirements—the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD’s) more stringent controlling transboundary movements of hazardous waste requirements—applies to all U.S. hazardous waste exports and imports.

More efficient compliance monitoring will be provided by the rule’s requirement to link the consent to export with the electronic export information submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These regulations support a broader U.S. government effort led by CBP to convert from a paper-based border-crossing approval process for a wide range of exports and imports, to an electronic border-crossing approval process. This rule covers the hazardous waste export component of this larger International Trade Data System initiative.

The new rule requires mandatory electronic reporting to EPA, which will enable increased sharing of hazardous waste export and import data with state programs, the general public and individual hazardous waste exporters and importers. While some electronic reporting will be required when the rule becomes effective, the full range of electronic reporting will not be mandatory until the respective electronic reporting functions are built and beta tested, at which point a compliance date will be announced in a separate Federal Register announcement.

Read Assistant Administrator Stanislaus’ blog on actions: https://blog.epa.gov/blog/2016/10/keeping-international-communities-safe

For more information about the final Hazardous Waste Export and Import Regulations, see: https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/proposed-rule-hazardous-waste-export-import-revisions. For more information about the Proposed Rule: Internet Posting for Hazardous Waste Exports and Imports Proposed Rule and Confidentiality Determination to Exclude Confidential Business Information (CBI) Claims for Hazardous Waste Export and Import Documents, see: https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/proposed-rule-internet-posting-and-confidentiality-determinations-hazardous-waste

MDEQ Issues Emergency Rules on 1,4-Dioxane

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) recently issued the following statement by MDEQ director C. Heidi Grether regarding the issuance of emergency rules to establish 1,4-dioxane standards across the state.

“We are issuing emergency rules to ensure we are protecting Michigan residents relative to 1,4-dioxane contamination in groundwater in Ann Arbor and elsewhere in Michigan. This is a precautionary move but we are particularly concerned about the potential of vapor intrusion in residences. Our recent testing of shallow groundwater in Ann Arbor confirms the presence of contamination a significant distance from the heart of the plume. While there is no acute threat at this time, issuing these emergency rules is the responsible thing to do as we seek to put public health first and foremost in everything we do.”

EPA Releases White Paper on Lead and Copper Rule Revisions

EPA released a White Paper on the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions to ensure that stakeholders are informed of the options that EPA is considering as part of the rulemaking process. This paper provides examples of regulatory options that EPA is evaluating and highlights key challenges, opportunities, and analytical issues presented by these options. EPA expects the paper will help facilitate our ongoing engagement with stakeholders and the public as we work to develop a proposed rule.

Updated Version of Pesticide Label Review Manual Chapter 1 Now Available

EPA has updated the Pesticide Label Review Manual (LRM)’s Chapter 1. This manual began as a guide for EPA label reviewers, and now it serves as a tool to assist EPA’s stakeholders in understanding the pesticide labeling process. The LRM is also useful in understanding approaches for how labels should generally be drafted.

EPA Releases Final NPDES Pesticide General Permit for Point Source Discharges

EPA announced the final 2016 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Pesticide General Permit for Point source discharges of biological pesticides and chemical pesticides that leave a residue into U.S. waters. The final 2016 Pesticide General Permit (PGP) replaces the current 2011 PGP and addresses the same requirements and provisions as the current permit, including: mosquito and other flying insect pest control; weed and algae pest control; animal pest control; and forest canopy pest control.

The 2016 PGP provides coverage for certain point source discharges that occur in areas not covered by an authorized state NPDES permit program, including: Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Washington D.C.; all U.S. territories except the Virgin Islands; areas associated with oil, gas, or geothermal resources in Texas; federal facilities in Delaware, Vermont, Colorado, and Washington; and all Indian country lands except in Maine. The 2016 PGP will be in effect for five years, beginning October 31, 2016.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), on behalf of the Department of Transportation, are establishing rules for a comprehensive Phase 2 Heavy-Duty (HD) National Program that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel consumption from new on-road medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and engines. NHTSA's fuel consumption standards and EPA's carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards are tailored to each of four regulatory categories of heavy-duty vehicles: combination tractors; trailers used in combination with those tractors; heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans; and vocational vehicles. The rule also includes separate standards for the engines that power combination tractors and vocational vehicles. Certain requirements for control of GHG emissions are exclusive to the EPA program. These include EPA's hydrofluorocarbon standards to control leakage from air conditioning systems in vocational vehicles and EPA's nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) standards for heavy-duty engines.

NHTSA is also addressing misalignment between the Phase 1 EPA GHG standards and the NHTSA fuel efficiency standards to virtually eliminate the differences. This action also includes certain EPA- specific provisions relating to control of emissions of pollutants other than GHGs. EPA is finalizing non-GHG emission standards relating to the use of diesel auxiliary power units installed in new tractors. In addition, EPA is clarifying the classification of natural gas engines and other gaseous-fueled heavy-duty engines. EPA is also finalizing technical amendments to EPA rules that apply to emissions of non-GHG pollutants from light-duty motor vehicles, marine diesel engines, and other non-road engines and equipment. Finally, EPA is requiring that engines from donor vehicles installed in new glider vehicles meet the emission standards applicable in the year of assembly of the new glider vehicle, including all applicable standards for criteria pollutants, with limited exceptions for small businesses and for other special circumstances.

This final rule is effective on December 27, 2016.

MPCA Completes 37 Enforcement Cases in the Third Quarter of 2016

In its ongoing efforts to promote environmental compliance, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) concluded 37 enforcement cases in 28 counties throughout Minnesota during the third quarter of 2016. Penalties from all 37 cases totaled just under $275,000.

Environmental enforcement investigations often take several months, and in highly complex cases more than a year. Although, in rare instances, they can involve courts, they are most often negotiated settlements where the goal is compliance with environmental rules. Fines issued are targeted to match the environmental harm and economic advantage gained by not complying with applicable regulations.

In addition to these 37 recently completed cases, the MPCA also has 52 ongoing enforcement investigations, 19 of which were opened as new cases during the third quarter of 2016. Not all investigations lead to fines or other official action.

Imposing monetary penalties is only part of the MPCA’s enforcement process. Agency staff continue to provide assistance, support, and information on the steps and tools necessary to achieve compliance for any company, individual, or local government that requests it.

For a list of enforcement actions, click here.

Specialty Materials Inc. Fined $150,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations

A Lowell, Mass., manufacturer of fiber products has come into compliance with hazardous waste laws after the EPA found the company was violating federal and state environmental laws.

Specialty Materials Inc. agreed to pay $150,000 to settle EPA allegations that the company violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Massachusetts hazardous waste management regulations. Specialty Materials generates hazardous wastes in the process of manufacturing fiber products and composite materials used in aerospace, sporting, and industrial applications.

Hazardous wastes generated at the company include, among others: methylene chloride, solids and wastewater contaminated with mercury, methyl ethyl ketone, resin and solids contaminated with acetone, isopropyl alcohol, various flammable liquids, waste epoxy and adhesive cleaner, and waste aerosols.

In July 2014 an EPA inspection identified 14 violations of RCRA and the Massachusetts regulations, including that Specialty Materials had failed to properly store, handle and manage hazardous wastes; ensure proper safety and emergency preparedness measures were followed; maintain appropriate records about storage and handling of hazardous materials; and provide adequate personnel training.

Construction Companies Fined $49,500 for Stormwater Discharges

An EPA enforcement action resulted in the general contractor and the excavation company who worked on construction of a new high school in Somerset, Massachusetts, correcting violations of the EPA permit to discharge stormwater, and taking necessary steps to protect the local storm sewer system and the Taunton River from contamination.

Bacon-Agostini Construction Co., Inc., of E. Providence, Rhode Island, the general contractor, and K.R. Rezendes, Inc., of Assonet, Massachusetts, the excavation company, also agreed to pay a penalty of $49,500 to settle claims they violated Clean Water Act at the construction site of the new Somerset-Berkley Regional High School.

EPA alleged that the two companies both failed to follow provisions of the 2012 Construction General Permit, which spells out who must apply for permit coverage and how they must control stormwater discharges from the site. In addition, Bacon-Agostini failed to file a notice of its discharges and failed to get a required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

"Carefully following requirements for discharging stormwater from construction sites is an important way construction companies help protect our rivers, lakes and wetlands," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator for EPA's New England office.

The general construction permit covered demolition as well as construction of the new regional high school, parking lots and athletic facilities. Construction activities started in July 2012 and involved work on about 32 acres. The site discharged to catch basins for the town's municipal separate storm sewer system, which in turn discharges to the Taunton River. EPA was alerted to issues at the site by the town conservation agent who reported discharges of turbid, sediment-laden storm water from the site into the municipal system and the Taunton River after rainy weather in August and September of 2012. These sediment discharges also caused significant flooding of Route 138, a major roadway.

During an inspection, EPA found evidence that the companies failed to design or install adequate "best management practices" (BMPs), adequately maintain the BMPs, and have an adequate storm water pollution prevention plan for the site. The inspection also found turbid stormwater discharges from the site to the town storm sewer system.

The companies have since corrected the violations and are in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act and the 2012 Construction General Permit.

EPA Announces National Call-to-Action to Change Out 300 Million Light Bulbs

The EPA recently marked Energy Star Day 2016 by calling on Americans to change out their inefficient light bulbs with Energy Star certified LED bulbs. In collaboration with Energy Star retail, manufacturer and utility partners, the goal is to change more than 300 million bulbs in one year. Collectively, a change-out of this magnitude would save Americans about $1.5 billion dollars in annual energy bills and prevent 17 billion pounds of annual GHG emissions.

“Energy Star-certified lighting is one of the easiest opportunities for American consumers to save energy, save money, and protect the environment from climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The lighting market is poised for dramatic change towards high-quality, long-lasting products that use a fraction of the energy compared to the bulbs they replace and save Americans money at the same time, and that’s a win-win in my book.”

EPA is launching a year-long effort to educate people about the benefits of Energy Star certified lighting. The “Light the Moment with Energy Star” campaign will leverage traditional and social media to highlight the affordability, the quality and the broad selection of LED bulbs and fixtures that have earned the Energy Star.

Energy Star certified bulbs use as much as 70-90% less energy than traditional bulbs and last at least 15 times longer. A single bulb can save $55 in electricity costs over its lifetime and last over 12 years with typical use. Only products that have earned the Energy Star are independently certified to save energy and perform as expected.

Held on the 4th Tuesday every October, Energy Star Day is a national celebration that encourages people to save energy and protect the environment from climate change with the help of Energy Star.

Energy Star is the simple choice for energy efficiency. For nearly 25 years, people across America have looked to EPA’s Energy Star program for guidance on how to save energy, save money, and protect the environment. Behind each blue label is a product, building, or home that is independently certified to use less energy and cause fewer of the emissions that contribute to climate change. Today, Energy Star is the most widely recognized symbol for energy efficiency in the world. Since 1992, Energy Star has helped families and businesses save $362 billion on utility bills, while reducing GHG emissions by 2.4 billion metric tons. Join the millions who are already making a difference at energystar.gov.

Energy Star Collaboration Aims to Increase Sales of Energy-Efficient Products

EPA recently announced an innovative pilot program with Energy Star partners to encourage the sale of more efficient products for the home. The Energy Star Retail Products Platform (ESRPP) seeks to establish a consistent model for utilities to incentivize retailers to sell and consumers to purchase more energy-efficient products.

“EPA is excited to be facilitating this collaborative effort among the most innovative of our many great Energy Star partners,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Once fully implemented, this approach to energy efficiency programming could expand the availability of energy-saving products for consumers and more effectively contribute to protecting our climate. This is Energy Star doing what it does best: exploring a creative model with its partners that has the potential to transform markets for lasting change and make being energy efficient even easier for Americans.”

Appliances and other miscellaneous household electronics contribute an estimated 15–20% of residential energy use. Energy efficiency programs run by utilities and other organizations have traditionally offered consumer rebates to incentivize the purchase of more Energy Star-certified options. With the success of these programs, the per-unit energy savings opportunity has decreased, so utilities and retailers have explored new approaches to further incentivize the purchase of energy-efficient products. The ESRPP provides financial incentives directly from utilities to retailers to sell the most energy-efficient products to their customers. The ESRPP is designed to capture remaining, hard-to-reach energy savings and promises increasing energy savings and reduced costs over time.

A nationwide collaboration, the ESRPP gives retailers, utilities, manufacturers and other participants a more efficient platform to deliver Energy Star products. The ESRPP allows these partners to leverage each other’s resources and shared objectives, avoid duplication of effort and redundancy across neighboring service territories, and streamline operations. A typical household equipped with Energy Star certified products can reduce emissions by about 72,000 lb of CO2 and save about $8,200 on utility bills over the life of the products. ESRPP offers EPA and its partners a systematic and cost-effective way to continuously expand the sale and use of Energy Star certified products to deliver lasting economic and environmental benefits to the consumer.

In this first pilot year, nine program sponsors representing 12 states and almost 15% of the U.S. are participating in the ESRPP. Energy Star certified models in five product categories are being promoted by program sponsor-labeled signage in almost 700 stores. By the end of 2017, the program is expected to expand to serve approximately 30% of the U.S. population through increased program sponsor and retailer participation. In the future, the ESRPP is expected to offer a gateway for energy efficiency programs to capture energy savings in the growing “miscellaneous/plug load” product categories at a significantly lower cost than current programs incur. Currently, each year, utilities and others invest more than $7.6 billion on energy efficiency programs, saving nearly 25,850 MWh of electricity. These savings prevent an estimated two million metric tons of annual GHG emissions and are equivalent to the electricity used by more than 290,000 homes.

EPA Urged to Level the Playing Field for Energy Efficiency in the Clean Power Plan

A diverse alliance is calling on EPA to expand incentives for energy efficiency in the Clean Power Plan. Led by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), it argues that energy efficiency should receive access to the same credits as renewable energy through the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP). The CPP's early-action program, as currently drafted, puts efficiency at a disadvantage.

"Recognizing the importance of the CEIP as an opportunity to spur early investment in low-cost emission reduction strategies, we recommend that the Renewable Energy Reserve (RER) be expanded to include energy efficiency policies and measures," states the letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Signatories include a broad array of businesses, policymakers, localities, environmental groups, health advocates, and faith communities.

The CEIP rewards early investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that serve low-income communities. It offers an extra incentive to renewable energy, and the alliance requests that the EPA also include energy efficiency in this pool of credits.

"Energy efficiency is generally the least-cost option for states looking to comply with the Clean Power Plan, but efficiency is not yet being fully considered as a strategy for the Clean Energy Incentive Plan," said Steven Nadel, executive director, ACEEE. "The Environmental Protection Agency should expand the pool of credits available to renewable energy to also include energy efficiency, which would help control electric costs and keep money in the hands of communities."

"The Clean Power Plan goes far beyond protecting our climate, because decreased air pollution will have powerful benefits for public health," said Catherine Thomasson, MD, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "By encouraging energy efficiency, the Clean Energy Incentive Program will help decrease the power sector's reliance on fossil fuels—which decreases the particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and other harmful air pollution created by burning fossil fuels."

"Children and local communities are why, as Christians, we care about the Clean Power Plan," said Reverend Mitchell C. Hescox, president/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network. "We believe that a clean energy future, which includes expanding energy efficiency and cutting pollution, profoundly impacts human life."

The proposal requests that EPA treat energy efficiency as equal to renewable energy in the CEIP. The exclusion of energy efficiency is a significant oversight that could cause states to opt for more expensive compliance options.

Reducing emissions through energy efficiency costs significantly less than other means. These savings get passed down to customers, resulting in local job creation and economic development. The EPA's latest proposal for the CEIP is an important opportunity to ensure that states can reward investments in energy efficiency while getting credit for the pollution it avoids.

Ohio EPA Requests Comment on New Startup, Shutdown or Malfunction and Scheduled Maintenance Rules

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Air Pollution Control (DAPC) has prepared draft rule language for Ohio's Startup, Shutdown or Malfunction and Scheduled Maintenance Rules contained in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Rules 3745-14-11, 3745-15-01, 3745-15-06, and 3745-17-07.

These rules include regulations for identifying and reporting excess emissions during periods of startup, shut down or malfunction and how to how to handle scheduled maintenance of air pollution control equipment. Ohio EPA is performing this rulemaking in response to a U.S. EPA call for modifications to the rules on June 12, 2015 in 80 FR 33840.

As part of the rule-making process, DAPC is required by Section 121.39 of the Ohio Revised Code to consult with organizations that represent political subdivisions, environmental interests, business interests, and others affected by the rules. The DAPC is offering organizations the opportunity to comment on this rule before the division formally proposes them.

These rules and supporting documentation including a draft of the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) document are available electronically for review at: http://epa.ohio.gov/dapc/regs/regs.aspx. See the information under "Interested Party Review" tab for Ohio's SSM/SM Rules. OEPA has requested that you provide us with any comments you may have to the draft rules and draft BIA document by November 28, 2016.

Please submit your comments or suggestions to the following addresses:

Paul Braun
paul.braun@epa.ohio.gov
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, DAPC
Lazarus Government Center
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049
614-644-3734

EPA Orders Halliburton to Reduce Air Pollution Near Schools

EPA recently announced a settlement valued at more than $400,000 with Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., for a fleet of diesel trucks that violated California’s Truck and Bus Regulation. The company will spend $180,600 on environmental projects to reduce air pollution at schools in the Los Angeles area, and $75,000 on air quality improvements in the San Joaquin Valley. It will also pay a $154,400 civil penalty and has taken measures to comply with the law.

EPA made the announcement at Van Deene Avenue Elementary School near Torrance, California, joined by the California Air Resources Board, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Los Angeles Unified School District to highlight the air filtration systems being installed to protect students’ health.

Halliburton, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. The company operated 61 heavy-duty diesel trucks in California from 2012 to 2014 without the required diesel particulate filters and failed to verify compliance with the Truck and Bus Regulation for its hired motor carriers. Fine particulate matter (soot) can be emitted directly from sources such as diesel engines.

"This ground-breaking settlement takes aim at a major source of road pollution in a state burdened with some of the worst air quality in the nation,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Transport companies must comply with California's rule to cut the pollutants that lead to higher asthma rates for children and more emergency room visits for heart and lung illnesses.

“This settlement clearly demonstrates that working together with the U.S. EPA provides expanded and enhanced enforcement of California’s Truck and Bus Regulation,” said Todd Sax, head of CARB’s Enforcement Division. “All trucking companies operating in California must comply with this rule so that all of California, especially those in our hardest hit communities, can breathe clean air that meets federal air quality standards.”

In addition to the filters at Van Deene Avenue Elementary School, Halliburton will pay to have similar systems installed at the 186th Street Elementary School and Riley High School in Gardena. The systems will reduce exposure to ultrafine particulate matter, black carbon, and fine particulate matter emitted from trucks operating on highways near the school sites. The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s contractor IQAir North America will verify the performance of the systems and training of school staff to ensure their proper operation. The project includes a five-year supply of replacement filters, which are expected to remove more than 90% of ultra-fine particulate matter and black carbon, based on independent testing. Schools near major freeways can increase exposure to air traffic pollution. Studies have shown that improved indoor air quality in classrooms increases productivity and improves attendance and performance in both adults and students.

"This school is less than one block from a major freeway,” said Wayne Nastri, SCAQMD’s Acting Executive Officer. “Studies have shown many adverse health effects are associated with exposure to vehicle emissions near busy roadways, especially diesel exhaust particulate emissions that are classified as a human carcinogen. In addition, children are more susceptible to air pollution. These classroom air filters will help protect students’ health.”

“On behalf of the students and faculty at Van Deene Avenue and 186th Street Elementary Schools and Riley High School, we are grateful that air filtration systems will be installed at our schools. The health and safety of students and staff remains our top priority,” said Christopher Downing, L.A. Unified Superintendent, Local District South.

Halliburton will also provide $75,000 to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in support of its Healthy Air Living Schools Program. The funds will enable schools to receive hourly, real-time data on poor air quality so that timely action can be taken to avoid student exposure to unhealthy outdoor air. The program will also raise awareness of the public health impacts from idling buses and automobiles near schools. Idling vehicles contribute to air pollution and emit air toxics that are known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health effects.

In California, mobile sources of diesel emissions, such as trucks and construction equipment, are one of the largest sources of ultrafine particulate matter. About 625,000 trucks are registered outside of the state, but operate in California and are subject to the rule. Many of these vehicles are older models and emit particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

The California Truck and Bus Regulation was adopted into federal Clean Air Act plan requirements in 2012 and applies to diesel trucks and buses operated in California. The rule requires trucking companies to upgrade vehicles they own to meet specific NOx and particulate matter performance standards and also requires trucking companies to verify compliance of vehicles they hire or dispatch. Heavy-duty diesel trucks in California must meet 2010 engine emissions levels or use diesel particulate filters, which can reduce the emissions of diesel particulate into the atmosphere by 85% or more.

Exposure to traffic-related air pollution has been linked to a variety of short-term and long-term health effects, including asthma, reduced lung function, impaired lung development in children, and cardiovascular effects in adults. Children’s exposure to traffic-related air pollution while at school is a concern because many schools across the country are located near heavily traveled roadways and children are particularly vulnerable to air traffic pollution.

Pennsylvania DEP Fines JKLM Energy LLC $472,317 for 2015 Potter County Surfactant Discharge

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced that it has finalized a $472,317 civil penalty with JKLM Energy, LLC, of Sewickley, Allegheny County, for groundwater contamination caused by the use of an unapproved surfactant during the drilling of a natural gas well. The contamination impacted six private drinking water wells in Sweden and Eulalia townships, Potter County, in September 2015.

“This was a serious incident that may have been prevented if JKLM had used better judgment at the time,” DEP Director of Oil and Gas Operations John Ryder said. “The department is satisfied with the company’s cooperation in remediating the contamination, and ensuring that the affected families will have safe drinking water now and in the future.”

In addition to the payment of that civil penalty, JKLM has agreed to provide $100,000 for a Community Environmental Project, which will be conducted by the local Triple Divide Watershed Coalition. The money will be used to purchase and install continuous conductivity monitors for eleven public water supplies in Potter County. The project will be jointly supervised by the watershed coalition and the Potter County Planning Commission, and be administered through the county’s treasurer’s office.

The incident occurred in mid-September 2015 when JKLM began drilling the Reese Hollow 118 2HU natural gas well and the drill bit became stuck in the well bore approximately 570 feet below the ground surface.

During the next several days, JKLM introduced an estimated 100 gallons of an unapproved drilling surfactant called F-485 into the well bore hole to assist with the drill bit recovery operation. The surfactant, which had been diluted with fresh water, eventually migrated into the groundwater via subsurface fractures.

There were 17 private water supply complaints received by DEP, with six of those found to have been impacted by the release. JKLM provided alternate private water sources in response to the initial incident, and has since installed treatment systems on all of the affected private water supplies.

Four public water supply wells operated by the Coudersport Borough Water Authority and Charles Cole Memorial Hospital were sampled and monitored. Although they were all temporarily taken off-line as a precautionary measure, none appear to have been impacted.

Since late October 2015, JKLM has:

  • Installed four groundwater monitoring wells
  • Plugged the three gas wells at the site
  • Installed treatment systems on the impacted private water wells
  • Continued to monitor the affected private water wells and the monitoring wells
  • Returned the three Reese Hollow well permits to DEP
  • Agreed not to apply for any new well permits or drill new wells on the site

The penalty addresses violations of the 2012 Oil and Gas Act, the PA Clean Streams Law and DEP’s Chapter 78 oil and gas regulations.

To access the consent order and agreement, click here, or call the North-central Regional Office at 570-327-3636.

MassDEP Assesses $60,000 Penalty to Foxboro Company for Violating Solid Waste Management Regulations

Resource Control, Inc., (RCI) of Foxboro, MA has been assessed a $60,000 penalty for violating solid waste regulations at their Barre (Martone) Landfill facility at 99 Barre Depot Road in Barre.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regulations require compliance with permit conditions and approved operating procedures. During site inspections in April and October of 2015, MassDEP inspectors observed numerous environmental violations, including disrepair of facility stormwater channels and migration of sediment off-site to the Ware River, disposal of liquid waste, and damage to a silt fence around an existing cover repair project.

RCI has implemented measures to prevent another migration of sediment off-site, has had no recurrences and has returned to compliance by replacing the silt fence and repairing the stormwater swale.

In a recent consent order, the company agreed to comply with the applicable regulations and pay $15,000 of the penalty. The remaining amount, $45,000, will be directed towards the transfer of 3.57 acres of landfill property RCI owns to the Town of Barre under MassDEP's policy for Supplemental Environmental Projects. The transferred property will allow the town to expand its existing facility for composting and recycling operations.

"Solid Waste permits ensure practices and procedures that protect human health and the environment," said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "This enforcement action ensures that corrective and preventive measures are in place to protect surface water resources."

EPA Takes Action to Stop Sewage from Entering The Mavilla River

The EPA reached a legal settlement with the owner of the Plaza Aquarium shopping center in Toa Alta, resolving alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, including the discharge of partially treated sewage into the Mavilla River. As part of the settlement, PDCM Associates, S.E. will transfer ownership of 25 acres of land adjacent to the Joyuda Lagoon Nature Reserve in Cabo Rojo to the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PRDNER). The transfer of the land to the PRDNER will permanently protect this land. In addition to this land transfer, PDCM Associates will pay a $45,000 penalty.

"Discharges of sewage and other contaminants can damage public health and harm wildlife," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "Owners and operators of sewage treatment plants must make sure they are in compliance with the law. This agreement will help protect Joyuda Lagoon, a precious natural reservoir, benefitting area wildlife and those who come to view its natural wonders."

The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into waterways without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. A discharge permit sets limits on the amount of pollution that can be discharged into a waterway and establishes monitoring and reporting requirements in order to protect water quality. An EPA inspection in 2008 revealed that the small wastewater treatment plant PDCM Associates used to treat wastewater at the Plaza Aquarium shopping center was operating without a permit. A 2011 investigation by the EPA revealed that PDCM Associates did not adequately operate and maintain the treatment plant between 2009 and 2011. As a result of these violations of the Clean Water Act, in 2012, the EPA ordered PDCM Associates to stop discharging pollutants from the wastewater treatment plant. In 2012, PDCM Associates began trucking sewage from its treatment plant to a plant operated by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority.

The 300-acre Joyuda Lagoon nature reserve in Cabo Rojo is home to diverse wildlife, including more than 40 species of fish, and is used by waterfowl and other migratory birds. The 25 acres of land that is being transferred to the PRDNER under this agreement will reduce the potential for polluted storm water from reaching the lagoon. The land has an estimated value of $200,000.

La Mexicana to Repay Washington State for Spill Response in 2015

A White Center food manufacturing company, La Mexicana, has agreed to repay the state for its efforts to clean up vegetable oil that spilled into a White Center pond last year. The company has also committed to fund a local environmental restoration project.

The Washington Department of Ecology, other agencies and contractors spent weeks cleaning up the vegetable oil, and catching and cleaning more than 80 oiled birds in November and December 2015. The response efforts and cleanup work totaled $333,729, and about $250,000 of this amount was dedicated to wildlife response. La Mexicana said it will pay for the bill.

La Mexicana voluntarily accepted responsibility after realizing the spill had occurred at its White Center facility.

The spill happened on October 30, 2015, when a 200-gallon container of cooking oil accidentally tipped over and spilled an estimated 175 gallons into a storm drain. That storm drain emptied into the White Center pond a few blocks away.

“La Mexicana became an involved response partner as soon as they realized the oil in the pond and the impacted wildlife were a result of the spill at their facility,” said David Byers, Ecology’s spill response supervisor.

Since the spill, La Mexicana has purchased spill response equipment, posted instructions and trained employees to contain, clean up and immediately report future spills.

Cooking and other edible oils, while less toxic to wildlife than petroleum products, cause environmental harm. The oil coats birds’ feathers causing them to lose insulation and buoyancy. Oil also damages habitat for other aquatic life by reducing oxygen levels and creating physical impacts on the water surface and shoreline.

“La Mexicana cares deeply about our community and the environment. We are grateful that we were able to partner with the Department of Ecology to restore the pond and the impacted wildlife. La Mexicana has implemented robust programs to ensure the protection of our natural resources, and the continuous improvement of our processes, products, and services,” said William Fry, general manager of La Mexicana.

Along with cost recovery, the state issued a separate $4,813.83 damage assessment to La Mexicana for harm to natural, cultural, and publically owned resources. The assessment is based on the amount spilled and the resources placed at risk.

Ecology also fined La Mexicana $2,000 for spilling oil and failing to promptly report the spill. Ecology penalties may be appealed to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.

Tuna Vessel Operator Convicted for Oil Discharges Off American Samoa

An American tuna fishing company that regularly unloaded its catch in American Samoa, was convicted and sentenced for discharging oil into the South Pacific and for maintaining false records, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. The company, Pacific Breeze Fisheries LLC, owned the Fishing Vessel F/V Pacific Breeze, a tuna purse seiner that was responsible for the pollution.

Pacific Breeze Fisheries admitted that its engineers failed to document the illegal dumping of oily bilge water into the waters off American Samoa without the use of required pollution prevention equipment. These discharges occurred on at least two occasions, in 2014 and 2015, before the vessel brought fish to a cannery in the port of Pago Pago, American Samoa.

The company further admitted that between October 2013 and July 2015, senior engineers regularly failed to accurately record the transfer and disposal of oil waste in the vessel’s Oil Record Book. The U.S. Coast Guard relies on such records to determine whether vessels are illegally dumping oil at sea. As a result, tons of oil sludge, waste oil and oily bilge water that were produced by the vessel remain unaccounted for.

The company pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan for the District of Columbia to four felony violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, for failing to accurately maintain an Oil Record Book and for illegally discharging oily bilge water into the South Pacific. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the company will pay a $1.6 million fine, in addition to a community service payment of $400,000 for use in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Though Pacific Breeze Fisheries does not currently manage any active fishing vessels, the company also agreed to implement an extensive environmental compliance plan in the event it resumes operations.

On Oct. 25, Jeon Seon Han, the former Chief Engineer of the F/V Pacific Breeze, pleaded guilty in the District of Hawaii for his role in obstructing the U.S. Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in American Samoa in 2015. Han admitted to lying to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors about the disposal of sludge and to ordering the disassembly of an illegal discharge system before the inspection. Sentencing for Han is scheduled for February 2017.

German Shipping Corporations Convicted of Environmental Crimes

Two German shipping companies that owned and operated the Motor Vessel (M/V) Nils B, pleaded guilty to an environmental crime in federal court in San Diego before the Honorable Jan M. Adler, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden and United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy.

W. Bockstiegel Reederei GmbH & Co. KG (which operated the vessel) and W. Bockstiegel GmbH & Co. Reederei KG MS “NILS B” (which owned the vessel), pleaded guilty to one felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to accurately maintain an oil record book for the M/V Nils B. In doing so, the firms failed to disclose that oil contaminated water had been discharged into the ocean from the vessel without the use of pollution prevention equipment.

According to the plea agreement, on August 5, 2014, personnel from the United States Coast Guard boarded the vessel after its entry into the Port of San Diego, California. Once onboard, the Coast Guard discovered that the crew had failed to keep an oil record book for a significant period of time, modifications had been made to piping coming from the oil water separator and oil was discovered in discharge piping that should not have been present.

The defendants acknowledged that Coast Guard examiners took oil samples from the oil water separator’s overboard discharge valve and from the vessel’s sludge tank and the samples from the two locations matched. Under U.S. and international law, sludge is never to be discharged through an oil water separator. The Coast Guard also discovered a black hose near the oil water separator that contained oil slightly weathered light fuel oil mixed with lubricating oil. In the industry, such a hose is known as a “magic hose.” The defendants, in pleading guilty, admitted that the oil record book on board the vessel did not disclose any discharges of sludge between the time that the overboard discharge valve had been cleaned while the vessel was in dry dock in June of 2014 and its entry into the Port of San Diego in August.

Sentencing for this case has been set for November 3. According to the plea documents, the company and the United States agree to recommend that the court impose a total criminal penalty of $750,000.00, of which $250,000.00 will be a community service payment for the benefit of the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve to further research related to the effects of pollution on the marine estuarine environment.

U.S. EPA Honors Urban National Park for Green Energy Innovation

The EPA recently recognized the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for significantly reducing the park’s carbon footprint in 2015. Deborah Jordan, EPA's Acting Deputy Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, presented the Federal Green Challenge award at a renewable energy workshop at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

“The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has made impressive progress towards its goal of becoming a carbon neutral park,” said Ms. Jordan. “Through a combination of solar installations and strategic energy purchasing, nearly 100 percent of its annual energy use comes from renewable sources.”

"We hope to use our efforts as an example not only for other national parks but also for our visitors and the surrounding community,” said Aaron Roth, Acting Superintendent, Golden Gate Natural Recreation Area. “In this way we hope to amplify our impact and do our part to turn the tide against climate change."

Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the largest national parks in an urban environment, with more than 1,200 historic buildings and 80,000 acres in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

The park has been a customer of the "Deep Green" MCE Clean Energy Community Choice Aggregation program since 2011, and recently joined San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s “SuperGreen” program in 2016. Through these non-profit programs, available to all service area customers, the park purchases 100% renewable energy for all of its buildings.

The park also installed solar panels atop its Fort Mason headquarters, hiding them from view to maintain the historic character of the building. On Alcatraz Island, which has no connection to the power grid, the park’s solar panels generate half of the annual energy used on the island.

The Federal Green Challenge, launched by EPA in 2012, invites federal facilities to lead by example in reducing their environmental impact. Participants commit to reducing their environmental footprint by 5% or more in at least two target areas: water, waste, energy, electronics, transportation, and purchasing.

Over 290 federal facilities across the nation are taking steps to reduce pollution, support renewable energy, and operate more efficiently. Last year, participants saved more than $21 million across natural gas, fuel oil, paper purchasing, water, and waste reduction categories. The resulting reduction in GHGs is equivalent to taking more than 518,000 passenger vehicles off the road.

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Trivia Question of the Week

Driverless cars have the potential to reduce air pollution as a result of better traffic coordination.

a. True

b. False

Answer