November 05, 2018
This final rule
conditionally excludes contaminated wipes and apparel (that are not currently excluded under the solvent wipe rule) from regulation under the Ohio hazardous waste regulations when certain conditions are met.
The new rule applies to contaminated wipes and apparel such as rags, mops, drop cloths, and apparel (e.g., gloves, uniforms, smocks, and coveralls) made of woven or unwoven; natural or synthetic materials (e.g., fabric, leather or rubberlike material) that exhibit a characteristic of hazardous waste or are otherwise contaminated with hazardous waste as defined in Ohio rule 3745-51-03 of the Administrative Code when they are intended to be cleaned on-site or sent to a laundry or other cleaning facility
Under the rule, wipes and apparel must be stored in closed non-leaking containers, contain no free liquids (as determined by a written procedure implemented by the generator), cannot contain acute hazardous waste, nor be mixed with hazardous waste.
Job Openings at Environmental Resource Center
We’re looking for new team members with hands-on environmental and safety experience. The successful candidate would have at least 4 years EHS experience at a manufacturing, consulting, or government facility in a position implementing safety and environmental regulations or at a government agency that enforces the regulations. Job functions will include providing consulting services and audits, as well as training program development and presentation. Excellent writing and public speaking skills are required. Frequent air travel. Profit sharing, 401K, and other great benefits.
We also have an opening for an EHS associate. This position requires at least two years experience in the implementation of EHS regulations together with excellent writing and editing skills.
If you’d like to join a growing company that’s known for its quality, ethics, and expertise, send your resume to email@example.com
$3.2 Million for Obstruction of Justice and Falsifying Oil Pollution Logs
A German shipping company, MST Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST), pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Portland, Maine, for obstruction of justice and for maintaining false official records to conceal deliberate pollution from one of its ships, the M/V Marguerita
, announced Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey B. Clark for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and United States Attorney Halsey B. Frank for the District of Maine.
MST pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and one count of obstruction of justice for using falsified log books to hide intentional discharges of oily bilge waste occurring over a nine-month period during which the ship regularly made port calls in Portland, Maine. U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced the company pursuant to a plea agreement and ordered it to pay a $3.2 million criminal fine and serve a four-year term of probation during which vessels operated by the company will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor.
“Today’s action demonstrates that the Coast Guard and the Justice Department will not stand by while foreign vessels intentionally pollute our oceans and then try to cover up their criminal acts by lying to the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark. “This company is a repeat offender, which makes plain that it has shown contempt for the rule of law. I applaud the investigators and prosecutors who obtained this result.”
MST, a vessel operator based in Bavaria, Germany, was convicted of similar environmental crimes in the District of Minnesota in 2016. That federal case involved the falsification of the oil record book for the M/V Cornelia, which concealed deliberate discharges of oil-contaminated bilge waste, including discharges into the Great Lakes. MST was on probation in the District of Minnesota when it committed the crimes charged in Maine.
According to documents filed in court, MST discharged oily bilge waste from the Marguerita through the use of a so-called “magic pipe” that bypasses required pollution prevention equipment. The discharges violated MARPOL, an international treaty and were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book, a required ship log regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard to assure compliance.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Northern New England which conducted the inspection of the ship. The prosecution was handled by Trial Attorney John Cashman and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard Udell of the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine.
Revisions to Washington Air Quality Fees
On October 25, 2018, The Washington Department of Ecology amended two rules:
- Chapter 173-455 WAC, Air Quality Fee Rule – the revisions combine most of the air quality-related fees into one chapter. This should make it easier for the regulated community to find what fees they may need to pay.
- Chapter 173-400 WAC, General Regulations for Air Pollution Sources – establishes the regulatory framework to ensure healthy air quality in Washington and that the State meets Federal air quality standards. Changes include:
- Revise the registration program structure, including requiring all sources to register.
- Increase fees to more fully cover the costs of the air quality source registration program.
- Revise the fee process to create an equitable distribution of fees across all sources and establish a process to increase fees without going through rulemaking.
- Align Chapters 173-400 and 173-455 WAC.
- Match hourly rate charge in WAC 173-455-050, -100(2) and -130 with the current Ecology hourly billing rate ($95).
- Identify and edit, where appropriate, Chapters 173-455 and 173-400 WAC to increase clarity and readability.
Race Horse Training Center Fined for Water Violations
Racehorse training-center operator Evangeline Enterprises LLC of Carencro, Louisiana, has agreed to pay
$300,000 in civil penalties and to make changes in its handling of polluted wastewater at its Louisiana facility to settle Clean Water Act claims filed by the EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), the Department of Justice and EPA announced.
The settlement, contained in a proposed consent decree lodged today with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, resolves claims by EPA and LDEQ in a complaint filed on October 19, 2017. The complaint alleged that Evangeline is illegally discharging process wastewater, contaminated with horse manure, urine, and other biological materials, from its facility into the Vermilion River and its tributary Francois Coulee, in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Louisiana Environmental Quality Act.
“Louisiana is a beautiful state with a vast, diverse, ecosystem that is rich in natural resources, including its rivers, bayous, and coastal waters,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph. “My office is committed to protecting these treasures from those who would illegally exploit or damage them. Today’s settlement is but one example of my commitment to aggressively prosecute, both civilly and criminally, those who poison Louisiana's environment and to seek restitution for any damages they inflict.”
“This agreement is the result of extensive cooperation between the state of Louisiana and EPA,” said Regional Administrator Anne Idsal for EPA Region 6. “Ensuring the lawful handling of wastes will mean cleaner streams and waterways in Louisiana, which is important for aquatic habitats, safe drinking water, and public recreation.”
Under the Clean Water Act, facilities like Evangeline’s that house more than 150 horses for 45 days or more in any 12-month period and discharge pollutants must obtain a permit and comply with rules to ensure that pollutants, including contaminated process wastewater, is not discharged to waters of the United States or waters of the State. Evangeline discharged process wastewater into drainage ditches and pipes at the facility that then flowed into the Francois Coulee and Vermilion River. To correct this, the retention control structure required under the settlement agreement will store all process wastewater at the facility and allow it to be routed for proper treatment to stop the unauthorized discharges to the Francois Coulee and Vermilion River.
Under the settlement
, Evangeline will pay the civil penalties and submit an application for a Louisiana National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, comply with best management practices for waste at the facility, and construct a waste retention control structure in compliance with federal and state regulations. In the event that Evangeline chooses to close the facility, the agreement provides alternative measures to require the company to eliminate further discharges of pollution into area waterways.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day federal public comment period, a 45-day Louisiana public comment period, and final court review and approval.
ETC Cited for Violations on Revolution Pipeline
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a Field Order to ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC (ETC) requiring the operator to immediately stabilize disturbed areas, repair erosion control features, and stop all other earth moving activities associated with the Revolution Pipeline. This action stems from the September 10, 2018, Revolution Pipeline explosion in Center Township, Beaver County. The Revolution Pipeline is not currently in operation.
DEP has been conducting an ongoing investigation for the past several weeks. DEP has collected and subpoenaed documents, interviewed witnesses, and inspected the explosion site and the entire length of the pipeline.
The inspections discovered violations including unreported landslides, impacts to aquatic resources, construction activities occurring in unpermitted areas, and several sections of the pipeline that required the installation of additional measures to prevent accelerated erosion. DEP issued the field order to address these violations.
The order requires ETC and/or its contractors to temporarily stabilize disturbed areas within four days, flag the boundaries of the permitted area and delineated wetlands, provide an updated Erosion and Sediment Control Plan, and provide an updated Post Construction Stormwater Management Plan supported by appropriate site characterization and assessment of soil and geology including appropriate infiltration and geotechnical studies. The order prohibits additional construction and field work without DEP approval. DEP may take additional enforcement actions including possible civil penalties.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is the lead agency investigating the cause of the explosion. DEP’s investigation is focused on environmental impacts and ETC’s compliance with its permits to conduct earth moving activities and cross various water resources in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Washington counties. DEP and the PUC have shared information and cooperated on aspects of their respective separate investigations.
For more information, click here
to view the signed Field Order.
New Hazardous Waste Facility Permitting Regulations in California
California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced newly adopted regulations for permitting hazardous waste facilities. The rules, which take effect on January 1, 2019, are designed to strengthen protections for public health and the environment and to increase DTSC’s transparency and accountability.
The new rules improve DTSC’s authorities when reviewing, approving, or denying permit applications for facilities that treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste. The rules include the following improvements:
- A transparent process for considering a facility’s past violations in permitting decisions
- Expanded worker training to enhance safety
- Stronger financial assurance rules to conserve taxpayer funds and promote timely cleanups
- Better information to promote community involvement; and
- Assessments to identify health risks associated with facility operations, including in vulnerable communities.
“These are the most significant changes to DTSC’s permitting regulations in the last two decades – they make our permitting decisions more protective, transparent, and accountable,” said DTSC Director Barbara A. Lee. “With the new Violation Scoring Procedure, the public will know how well facilities comply with hazardous waste requirements, and that facilities that don’t comply face real restrictions when their permits are reviewed or when a permit denial is issued.”
The new Violation Scoring Procedure is an innovative tool that evaluates and scores a facility’s significant violations over a rolling ten-year period. The regulation requires DTSC to consider repeat violations in calculating a facility’s score. Facility scores will be published for the public to view. Depending on a facility’s score, DTSC can require facilities to implement enhanced protections or initiate permit denial, suspension, or revocation.
EPA to Exempt Livestock Emissions from EPCRA Reporting
EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a proposed rule to amend the emergency release notification regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to make clear that reporting of air emission from animal waste
at farms is not required under EPCRA. He was joined by Kansas Senator Jerry Moran for the signing.
This proposed rule
, if finalized, will provide livestock producers with greater regulatory certainty. It will also allow emergency response officials to focus on readiness and emergencies, not animal waste.
“This proposed rule is intended to make it clear to the regulated community that animal waste emissions from farms do not need to be reported under EPCRA,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This action provides much-needed certainty and clarity to America’s farmers and ranchers. It also ensures our emergency response officials are focusing their time and resources on hazardous waste emergencies and not routine animal waste.”
“Farmers and ranchers continue to face numerous challenges, and the removal of this unnecessary and burdensome regulation is welcome news for producers across our state,” said Senator Jerry Moran. “It was never the intent of Congress for normal odors from animal waste on farms to fall under our nation’s emergency hazardous waste reporting requirements, so I appreciate Administrator Wheeler taking definitive action today to provide certainty to the livestock industry. The resources of our emergency responders ought to be focused on protecting the public from true environmental and chemical emergencies, not odors from animal waste.”
“Our proposed rule would provide enhanced clarity for small and large animal producers and reduce confusion for emergency response officials throughout EPA Region 7, which covers the agricultural Midwest including Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford.
“The goal of emergency response officials and local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) is to prepare communities for emergency threats. Such emergency threats certainly do not include 'best guess' reporting on day-to-day emissions on farms and animal operations,” said National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) President Tim Gablehouse.
“These reports under EPCRA too often go ignored as they do not represent emergency situations to local communities. The focus of LEPCs should be and is on chemical hazards that present meaningful risk of harm to community members and first responders”
The signing comes on the heels of a roundtable hosted yesterday by the Missouri Farm Bureau with impacted stakeholders that would benefit from the proposed rule. The roundtable included Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn, Missouri Department of Natural Resources Director Carol Comer, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), agricultural leaders, and animal producers to discuss important issues including the EPCRA exemption and the Agency’s proposal to repeal and replace of the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.
In May 2017, the D.C. Circuit court vacated EPA’s 2008 regulatory exemption for livestock reporting under EPCRA. Following that court action, the Trump EPA issued guidance stating reporting still does not need to occur from livestock producers based on EPA’s interpretation of EPCRA.
The proposal requests comment on the Agency’s interpretation that these types of releases are not subject to EPCRA reporting. If finalized, this proposal would maintain consistency between the emergency release notification requirements of EPCRA and CERCLA in accordance with the statutory text and framework of EPCRA.
New Oil and Gas Electronic Permits in PA
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched electronic permits for well drilling and erosion and sediment control at oil and gas sites to provide operators a more efficient and convenient permitting process and faster response from DEP.
“As part of Governor Wolf’s commitment to improve the permitting process, DEP is employing the best technologies we can to meet industry needs while protecting our environment,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Our new e-permits for well-drilling and erosion and sediment control follow the recent launch of electronic document submission for operators and an inspections mobile app for our field staff, as we work to streamline the regulatory process.”
The permit review process will take less time because operators can pay permit fees online; DEP data entry duplication is eliminated; and the e-permit system ensures applications are administratively complete when submitted, which has been a challenge in permitting across regulated communities.
The well-drilling e-permit covers new applications, renewals, and alterations. It replaces an older, less robust electronic tool, called eWell. The new electronic Erosion and Sediment Control General Permit 3 (ESCGP-3) covers five or more acres of earth disturbance and is a key development permit. It replaces the ESCGP-2, which was a paper form.
Operators can access the new e-permits through DEP GreenPort
(registration is required for first-time users). Paper ESCGP-3 applications and eWell applications will continue to be accepted during a testing period of the new e-permits, which is expected to last until the end of December. Operators who’d like to provide feedback on the new e-permits can call the Office of Oil and Gas Management at (717) 783-9438.
The well-drilling and ESCGP-3 e-permits are the latest electronic tools in DEP’s continuing efforts to use technology solutions to improve customer service, reduce paper-driven processes, and further protect the environment. Stakeholders can now use online tools to file permit applications for surface coal mining, storage tank renewals, radiation protection renewal, and other regulated activities. In addition, DEP has developed online processes to digitize grants systems, modernize facility inspection processes, and archive content for access by both staff and the public.
Chevron U.S.A. Inc. Cited for RMP, CERCLA, and EPCRA Violations
EPA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced a national settlement with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (Chevron), that requires safety improvements at all its domestic refineries. This resolves claims that the company violated provisions of the Clean Air Act aimed at preventing accidental releases of hazardous chemicals that can have serious consequences for public health and the environment.
As part of the proposed settlement, Chevron will spend approximately $150 million to replace vulnerable pipes, institute operating parameters and alarms for safer operation, improve corrosion inspections and training, centralize safety authority within the corporation, conduct a pilot study of safety controls for fired heaters, and make other safety improvements at all its domestic refineries. Chevron also will pay a $2.95 million civil penalty and will implement supplemental environmental projects worth at least $10 million in the communities surrounding the refineries in Mississippi, California, Utah, and Hawaii. The overall value of this settlement exceeds $160 million, which makes it the largest settlement in the history of the EPA’s enforcement of the Risk Management Plan Rule under Clean Air Act Section 112r.
EPA’s initial investigation was spurred by an August 6, 2012 fire involving high-temperature hydrocarbons released in the Crude Unit at Chevron’s Richmond, California refinery. That fire prompted a shelter-in-place order by Contra Costa County officials, endangered 19 employees, and caused 15,000 local residents to seek medical attention. During EPA’s investigation, Chevron experienced accidental releases of regulated chemicals at two of its other refineries, including a 2013 explosion and fire in Pascagoula, Mississippi that caused the death of employee Tonya Graddy, and a 2013 rupture in El Segundo, California that caused a loss of power and flaring at the refinery.
“This case demonstrates the importance of performing equipment inspections and maintenance in accordance with environmental regulations,” said EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. “Under this settlement Chevron, U.S.A Inc. will improve their safety systems and monitoring equipment, protecting their employees and the surrounding communities.”
“The Clean Air Act’s hazardous chemical risk management program is intended to protect local communities and American workers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s action, taken jointly with our enforcement partners at EPA and the State of Mississippi, strengthens emergency prevention and response systems at Chevron’s U.S. refineries, which will help to protect their workers and the communities in which they live from dangerous chemical accidents.”
“The 2012 fire at Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, California, heavily affected the surrounding area,” said United States Attorney Alex G. Tse of the Northern District of California. “Thousands of residents were ordered to shelter in place and over 15,000 nearby residents sought medical assistance. Under the agreement announced today, among other relief, Chevron will make safety improvements at its refineries, and will also implement supplemental environmental projects in the affected communities, including Richmond. This office will continue to ensure compliance by corporate citizens with laws that are intended to protect the environment and the residents’ right to know.”
The United States’ and Mississippi’s Complaint, filed concurrently with the proposed settlement today in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges violations of Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. Section 112(r) requires covered facilities to implement a systematic Risk Management Program to prevent accidental releases of dangerous substances, and to meet a general duty of care in designing and maintaining safe facilities. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality participated as co-plaintiff, exercising its concurrent authority to enforce the Risk Management Program regulations over Chevron’s Pascagoula refinery. This is the first case in which the United States and a state have jointly brought suit to enforce these provisions.
The proposed settlement also resolves claims under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) regarding delayed reporting of an August 2, 2012, hydrogen sulfide release from Chevron’s Richmond facility.
The Supplemental Environmental Projects that Chevron has agreed to perform, valued at $10 million, will supply emergency response equipment to local jurisdictions surrounding the five subject refineries.
Chevron U.S.A. Inc. is the subsidiary of Chevron Corporation that owns and operates the corporation’s U.S. petroleum refineries. Chevron Corporation is the second-largest integrated energy company in the United States, and Chevron U.S.A. Inc. is the sixth-largest U.S. refiner as measured by crude oil distillation capacity. The proposed settlement covers all four Chevron U.S.A. Inc. refineries, which are located in Pascagoula, Mississippi; Richmond and El Segundo, California; and Salt Lake City, Utah; as well as a fifth refinery formerly owned and operated by Chevron, located in Kapolei, Hawaii. The Richmond component of the settlement builds on the relief achieved by previous state enforcement actions, including a 2013 criminal settlement with the California Attorney General’s Office and the District Attorney for Contra Costa County, and a 2017 settlement with the California Department of Industrial Relations, Occupational Safety and Health Division.
EPA to Face Lawsuit Over Delay in Banning Paint Strippers
Last week, Latino workers, environmental and public health advocates, and the mothers of two young men who recently died from methylene chloride exposures notified the Trump administration of their intent to sue the EPA
over its failure to finalize a ban on the use of this lethal chemical in paint strippers. Methylene chloride is responsible for more than 60 reported deaths, including at least four since EPA proposed banning methylene chloride paint strippers in January 2017. However, the Trump EPA has violated its public commitments and legal obligations to finalize that ban.
“No parent should ever have to bury their child. No one else should have gone through what I’m going through because of a paint removal product. The EPA must get these products off store shelves,” said Lauren Atkins, whose 31-year-old son Joshua died from methylene chloride exposure on February 12, 2018.
“One life is one too many to have been lost to this deadly chemical. We have lost loved ones due to the chemical industry’s and the EPA’s inaction to ban methylene chloride. Retailers have stepped up to save lives. How many more people will the EPA allow to die before they ban methylene chloride?” said Wendy Hartley, whose 21-year-old son Kevin died from methylene chloride exposure on April 28, 2017.
EPA estimates that 1.3 million Americans are exposed to methylene chloride from paint strippers in their homes and workplaces each year. Acute exposure to methylene chloride is known to cause asphyxiation, heart failure, and sudden death, while long-term exposure presents an increased risk of cancer, liver disease, and other serious health effects.
“Latino workers are more likely to perform jobs that use paint strippers, placing them at greater risk of harm from methylene chloride,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement executive director. “Our communities should no longer be senselessly exposed to this toxic chemical. Methylene chloride paint strippers must be banned immediately.”
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the country’s principal chemical safety law, requires EPA to regulate chemicals that present an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. In January 2017, the Obama administration determined that methylene chloride places consumers, workers, and bystanders at unreasonable risk of injury and proposed to ban its use in paint strippers. In May 2018, EPA promised to finalize that ban “shortly,” but it has taken no action since then.
“EPA’s inaction on this admittedly deadly chemical is unsafe and unlawful. The law does not allow EPA to drag its feet while lives hang in the balance,” said Earthjustice attorney Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, counsel for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
In the absence of federal action, eight major U.S. home improvement and auto parts retailers have taken action this year to protect their customers from the chemical, announcing plans to ban methylene chloride-based paint strippers from thousands of store shelves nationwide.
“Since EPA proposed its methylene chloride ban, four American families have lost loved ones. In light of the Trump EPA’s continued failure to act, retailers are stepping up and taking action to protect their customers from this dangerous chemical. EPA must follow the home improvement industry’s lead and ban these deadly paint removers from store shelves and workplaces nationwide,” said Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Director Liz Hitchcock.
TSCA requires parties to provide to EPA at least 60 days’ notice prior to the commencement of most citizen suits. On October 31, 2018, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Lauren Atkins, and Wendy Hartley submitted notice of their intent to sue EPA over its delayed methylene chloride ban.
“Removing old paint is a chore that many Americans take on themselves. It can be difficult, but there’s no reason for it to be deadly,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “The EPA needs to act now to protect consumers.”
Fleischmann’s Vinegar Fined for Wastewater Spill
Fleischmann’s Vinegar Company, Inc. of Sumner, WA spilled several hundred gallons of wastewater into the White River on May 31, 2018. The company faces a $20,000 fine from the Washington Department of Ecology.
An investigation found that a partially open valve caused 326 gallons of wastewater – a mixture of water, vinegar, bleach, and sodium hydroxide – to spill into the river. This wastewater can harm aquatic insects, amphibians and fish that live in the river.
The White River is home to several species of salmon that are listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act. For decades, tribes, the state and public have invested funds and efforts to protect the river’s water and fish habitat and restore its threatened Chinook salmon run.
This is the third time since 2014 that Fleischmann’s Vinegar violated Washington’s water quality requirements and their third penalty. The company has paid $33,000 in prior penalties.
Since the spill in May, the company has taken steps to prevent future spills by removing the faulty valve and sealing the connecting pipes. The Company has an existing permit to discharge cooling water to the White River in accordance with their wastewater permit.
“A third spill of this nature is completely unacceptable, and jeopardizes the health of the White River,” said Rich Doenges, a manager in the Water Quality Program for the Department of Ecology. “We expect the steps the company has taken will prevent future spills.”
Fleischmann’s Vinegar may appeal the penalty within 30 days to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.
Aux Sable Liquid Products to Spend over $7 Million to Resolve NSR Violations
EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement
that requires Aux Sable Liquid Products LP (Aux Sable) to strengthen air pollution controls and reduce air pollution at its natural gas processing facility, located southwest of Chicago. The facility, which is the largest natural gas processing plant in the United States, is located within the Chicago Non-Attainment Area for ground-level ozone, which includes the greater Chicago area and the northwest Indiana counties of Lake and Porter.
Under the terms of the settlement, Aux Sable will pay a $2.7 million civil penalty and at least $4.5 million on improvements to pollution controls and projects to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxide emissions (NOX).
“The settlement reached today will result in cleaner air for communities in the Greater Chicago area by reducing emissions of pollutants that are ozone precursors,” said EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. “This work required under the settlement will not only achieve compliance with the Clean Air Act, it also will advance EPA’s goal of reducing the number of nonattainment areas in the country.”
“Today’s settlement appropriately enforces and resolves significant violations of the Clean Air Act by Aux Sable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The important upgrades at Aux Sable facility – required by today’s action -- will improve air quality in the Chicago area. The Department of Justice continues to work with EPA to protect clean air for all Americans.”
This settlement addresses alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review Rules for excess fugitive emissions of VOCs. The Department of Justice and EPA allege that VOC emissions from equipment leaks at the facility have significantly exceeded the applicable thresholds for such emissions since the facility began operating in 2000, and Aux Sable has therefore never complied with the New Source Review requirements, including the lowest achievable emission rate and emission offset standards.
In this settlement, Aux Sable has agreed to take measures to reduce its emissions of VOCs, including 1) expanding its fugitive emission leak detection and repair program to cover thousands of fittings at its facility; 2) complying with more a stringent leak threshold for making repairs to valves throughout the facility, make significant improvements to its facility’s leak prevention program; 3) installing state-of-the-art “low-emissions” technology to replace or repack older leaking valves; 4) achieving 99% control efficiency of VOC emissions at the facility’s off-gas incinerators; (5) complying with flare operation monitoring requirements; and 6) installing ultra-low oxides of nitrogen (NOx) burner technology at the facility’s two process heaters. EPA estimates that Aux Sable will spend at least $1.5 million in capital costs and at least $250,000 per year in incremental operational and maintenance costs to complete these improvements.
Additionally, Aux Sable has addressed its noncompliance with the Illinois volatile organic material emission trading program by purchasing from the Illinois EPA the necessary VOC emission allotments and required emission excursion compensation to cover VOC emission-allotment deficiencies from 2001 to 2015, at a cost of more than $156,000. Aux Sable also submitted to Illinois corrections to past annual emission reports.
To mitigate the environmental harm caused by its Clean Air Act violations, Aux Sable has agreed to implement mitigation projects to reduce VOC and NOX emissions at locomotive switchyards located in the Chicago Area, which will include repowering switcher locomotives and installing switcher locomotive idle-reduction technology. Aux Sable will spend $3 million to implement these projects.
VOCs include a variety of chemicals that may produce adverse health effects such as eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidney, and the central nervous system. VOCs also contribute to the formation of ground level ozone. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly, and anyone with lung diseases such as asthma. Ground level ozone can also have harmful effects on sensitive vegetation and ecosystems. Besides ground level ozone, NOx emissions also contribute to acid rain, particulate matter, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment.
The consent decree
has been lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and is subject to public comment for a period of at least 30 days. Notice of the lodging of the consent decree will appear in the Federal Register, allowing for a 30-day public comment period before the consent decree can be entered by the court as final judgment.
Two California Companies Fined for TSCA Violations
EPA has settled with two California companies for failing to provide required notifications for the handling of toxic chemicals. IPS Corporation, located in Compton, Calif., will pay a $87,000 penalty. Chevron Richmond Technology Center, located in Richmond, Calif., will pay a $11,011 penalty.
Chevron Energy Technology Company, which owns and operates a site in Richmond, Calif., develops and manages technology in the oil and gas industry. Between 2013 and 2014, Chevron manufactured and processed chemical substances as part of its research and development. Health risks for chemicals used for research and development are not fully known; therefore, the chemicals cannot be distributed to consumers for commercial purposes. EPA found the company distributed chemical substances to third parties on three separate occasions without providing required written notification that use of the chemical substances was restricted to research and development purposes.
IPS Corporation, located in Compton, Calif., is a manufacturer of structural adhesives and other supplies for construction, industrial and manufacturing applications. IPS manufactures products that contain trichloroethylene (TCE), a known human carcinogen. Between 2015 and 2016, the company exported the TCE-containing products to 11 foreign countries without submitting timely export notices to EPA. These notices are required by law so EPA can provide information about exported chemicals to importing governments.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA
) requires reporting, notification, record-keeping and testing, and restricts the production, importation, exportation, use, and disposal of some chemical substances and/or mixtures. Certain substances regulated by other laws, including food, drugs, cosmetics and pesticides, are generally excluded from TSCA requirements.
Southbridge Recycling & Disposal Park Assessed $85,323 Penalty by MassDEP for Violating Solid Waste, Air Pollution Control Regulations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a penalty of $85,323 on the Southbridge Recycling & Disposal Park, Inc. (SRDP) for violating solid waste and air pollution control regulations at the Southbridge Landfill.
MassDEP inspected the Southbridge Landfill on June, 14, July 23, August 3 and 9, and October 7 and 9, 2018 and observed violations of the Solid Waste Management regulations, including offsite odors, incomplete containment berms, incomplete cover of solid waste, failure to maintain adequate erosion controls, failure to notify MassDEP of problems with the landfill’s gas collection system, failure to prevent contact stormwater from discharging to groundwater, and failure to follow through with the Air Operating Permit process.
In a recently negotiated consent order, SRDP agreed to comply with the applicable regulations and pay a penalty of $85,323. The company will also pay for a qualified third-party consulting engineer to be present at the landfill during the last two hours of operation on all days when waste related activities occur. The consulting engineer will be onsite to monitor SRDP operations to help ensure all protocols and permit conditions are complied with. Following each day’s activities, the third-party consulting engineer will report their findings to SRDP, the Town of Southbridge and MassDEP.
“Landfill operation have caused odors in the surrounding neighborhoods that are in violation of the company’s operating permits,” said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “The third party consultant will help alert SRDP and MassDEP when those protocols are not followed.”
EPA Guidance Relaxes Ozone Standard
EPA has issued guidance significantly increasing the allowable amount of ozone transport from an upwind state to a non-attaining downwind state, according to a document posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This will make it harder for downwind states to invoke the “good neighbor” protections under the Clean Air Act and meet national ambient air quality standards.
In an August 31, 2018 memo to all Regional Air Division Directors, Peter Tsirigotis, Director of EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, raised the amount of “upwind contribution” from 0.70 ppb (parts-per-billion) to 1 ppb, a more than 40% increase. He justified the change by writing:
“Although the 1 ppb threshold captures somewhat less upwind contribution …[it] still generally captures a substantial amount of transported contribution from upwind states to downwind receptors.”
The guidance contains tables estimating that, on average, the relaxed thresholds will capture 86% of what would be captured by the tighter threshold, but in the worst-case scenario, it would capture only 37.9%.
“With a flick of the pen, this EPA guidance condemns hundreds of unlucky downwinders to early deaths every year,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with EPA, noting that prolonged exposure to ozone is linked to premature death, cardiovascular impairments, and respiratory diseases. “When it comes to our lungs, EPA should do better than ‘good enough for government work.’”
This guidance means that downwind states will have to accept more ozone from their upwind neighbors before EPA will step in and invoke the Clean Air Act “good neighbors” safeguards. On the other hand, a state utilizing the new relaxed thresholds may be challenged in court. Nor is there a guarantee that EPA will help defend the action as the guidance contains a caveat that relying on the new ozone thresholds “does not ensure that the EPA will approve a SIP [state implementation plan] revision.”
In 2015, EPA tightened the overall National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, which is a secondary air pollutant created by chemical reactions between nitrous oxide (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Since Trump’s inauguration, EPA has been chipping away at ozone protections, such as a behind-the-scenes move this spring to allow industry to exceed current ambient air standards over rivers, mountains, and other remote areas.
2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Award Winners
The American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute®
) congratulated the winners of the 2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Award: Chemetry Corporation; Merck Research Laboratories; Mari Signum Mid-Atlantic, LLC; Corteva Agriscience™ Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™; and Frank Gupton, Ph.D., and Tyler McQuade, Ph.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Green Chemistry Challenge Awards recognize companies and institutions that have developed a new chemical process or product that reduces waste and the use and generation of hazardous chemicals. The awards program began in 1996 in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
“These prestigious national awards honor chemical innovations that demonstrate leadership in sustainable practices,” says ACS Executive Director and CEO Thomas Connelly Jr., Ph.D. “We are proud to continue supporting this award program.”
There is one award for each of five categories:
Academic Award – Frank Gupton and Tyler McQuade of Virginia Commonwealth University: Increasing Global Access to the High-volume HIV Drug Nevirapine through Process Intensification. Gupton and McQuade redesigned the process for creating this HIV drug, resulting in a 38% increase in yield and a reduction in waste generated. This novel process reduced the raw material cost by 30-40%. The new process was implemented through the Clinton Health Access Initiative in collaboration with two Chinese manufacturers resulting in a 9% reduction in the drug’s price.
Small Business Award – Chemetry Corporation –The eShuttle™ Technology for Propylene Oxide and Reducing CO2 Emissions in the PVC Supply Chain. This technology eliminates chlorine in the production of polyvinyl chloride (used to make PVC pipes, etc.), along with a chlorine-free method of producing propylene oxide, commonly used to make lightweight polyurethane foams and a variety of other valuable products. The eShuttle™ process reduces the power consumption of manufacturing propylene oxide by 60% compared to the conventional process, saving 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year. The new process also eliminates asbestos and mercury and removes the potential for the creation of chlorination byproducts associated with the current chlor-alkali process.
Greener Synthetic Pathways – Merck Research Laboratories – A Sustainable Commercial Manufacturing Process for Doravirine from Commodity Chemicals. A new synthesis of this HIV drug reduces production materials by 81%, increases yield from 23% to 52% and reduces the cost of raw materials by 57%. A life cycle assessment revealed the carbon footprint and water usage were reduced by 88% and 90%, respectively.
Greener Reaction Conditions – Mari Signum Mid-Atlantic, LLC – A Practical Way to Mass Production of Chitin: The Only Facility in the U.S. to Use Ionic Liquid-Based Isolation Process. Mari Signum Mid-Atlantic, LLC, is commercializing a safe, environmentally friendly, low energy-demanding and overall less costly process to produce chitin from seafood waste. Chitin is used in a variety of applications, such as food processing, biodegradable plastics and biomedical applications. This zero-discharge process produces a very high-grade and pure chitin, making use of and monetizing this seafood processing waste.
The Design of Greener Chemicals – Corteva Agriscience™ Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™– Rinskor™ Active – Improving Rice Production While Reducing Environmental Impact. This herbicide uses a unique new chemistry that allows farmers to apply it in lower doses than prior herbicides, eliminating an expected 750,000 pounds of active herbicide ingredients in 2018. In addition, nearly the same amount of hydrocarbon solvents will be eliminated because the herbicide makes use of predominantly plant-derived and renewable solvents. In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted Rinskor™ the Reduced Risk Pesticide Designation in rice and aquatics.
An independent panel of technical experts convened by ACS GCI judged the awards. More information on the award and past winners is available at https://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry
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