New Rules for Volatile Liquid Storage Tanks Proposed by EPA

October 19, 2020
EPA has proposed amendments to the Standards of Performance for Volatile Organic Liquid Storage Vessels (including petroleum liquid storage vessels) for which construction, reconstruction, or modification commenced after July 23, 1984. The Agency proposed amendments that would allow owners or operators of storage vessels subject to the Standards of Performance for Volatile Organic Liquid Storage Vessels and equipped with either an external floating roof (EFR) or internal floating roof (IFR) to voluntarily elect to comply with the requirements specified in the National Emission Standards for Storage Vessels (Tanks).
EPA has determined that the proposed alternative standard is appropriate because it will achieve a reduction in emissions at least equivalent to the reduction in emissions achieved under the current New Source Performance Standarrd (subpart Kb), and that the alternative standard is just as stringent as, if not more stringent than, the underlying standard.
Safely Get Your EHS Training at Home or in Your Office
To help you get the training you need, Environmental Resource Center has added a number of dates to our already popular live webcast training. Stay in compliance and learn the latest regulations from the comfort of your office or home. Webcast attendees receive the same benefits as our seminar attendees including expert instruction, comprehensive course materials, one year of access to our AnswerlineTM service, course certificate, and a personalized user portal on Environmental Resource Center’s website.
Upcoming hazardous waste and DOT hazardous materials webcasts:
Hazardous Waste Management: Annual Update – October 27, November 17, December 15
DOT Hazardous Materials Update – October 28, November 18, December 16
Cross-State Air Pollution Update NAAQS Proposed
EPA has proposed revisions to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) Update to address interstate air quality impacts for the 2008 ozone air quality standards. The proposed revision would reduce summertime emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from power plants in 12 states that contribute to downwind ozone problems, improving air quality for millions of Americans.
“With this proposal, the Trump Administration is demonstrating once again its commitment to improving air quality across the nation,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This update to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will alleviate interstate air pollution and improve quality of life for many Americans.”

The proposal is in response to the September 2019 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (Wisconsin v. EPA) by addressing the “significant contribution” of pollution that some states make to downwind states to help them meet and maintain compliance with the 2008 ozone standard.

Additional emissions reductions would be required at power plants in 12 states based on optimization of existing controls for the 2021 ozone season and installation or upgrade of low NOX burners for the 2022 ozone season. The proposed cuts in NOx emissions would lead to significant improvements in air quality beginning in the 2021 ozone season.
EPA estimated that the Revised CSAPR Update proposal could reduce NOx emissions from power plants in 12 states in the eastern United States by 17,000 tons in 2021 compared to projections without the rule. Due to this proposed rule and other changes already underway in the power sector, ozone season NOx emissions in these 12 states would be nearly 26,000 tons lower in 2021 than in 2019, a reduction of nearly 20 percent.
OSHA Issued $1,222,156 in Coronavirus Violations
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Oct. 8, 2020, OSHA has cited 85 establishments for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $1,222,156.
OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:
OSHA has already announced citations relating to 62 establishments, which can be found at In addition to those establishments, the 23 establishments below have received coronavirus-related citations totaling $309,023 from OSHA relating to one or more of the above violations from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8, 2020. OSHA provides more information about individual citations at its Establishment Search website, which it updates periodically.
Establishment Name
Leisure Care LLC
Braden River Rehabilitation Center LLC
Healthcare Services Group Inc.
Beacon Health Management LLC
Providence SNF Operators LLC
Presence Chicago Hospitals Network dba Amita Health Saint Joseph Hospital Chicago
Baypointe Rehab Center LLC
Atlantic Health System Inc.
New Jersey
Christian Health Care Center
New Jersey
2305 Rancocas Road Operations LLC
New Jersey
Complete Care at Hamilton LLC
New Jersey
The Buckingham at Norwood Care and Rehabilitation Center LLC
New Jersey
Highland Care Center Inc.
New York
Park Avenue Operating Co. LLC
Long Beach
New York
Richmond Medical Center
Staten Island
New York
Clearview Operating Co. LLC
New York
Clearview Operating Co. LLC
New York
Spring Valley Rest Home LLC
New York
Rogosin Institute Inc.
New York
Richmond Medical Center
Staten Island
New York
The Brooklyn Hospital Center
New York
Athena Orchard View LLC
Rhode Island
West Oaks Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
A full list of what standards were cited for each establishment – and the inspection number – are available here. An OSHA standards database can be found here. Resources are available on the agency's COVID-19 webpage to help employers comply with these standards.
Massachusetts to Ban Use of HFCs
The Massachusetts DEP released a proposed regulation to prohibit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationally and in Massachusetts. HFCs are currently used in certain end-use products, such as aerosols, air conditioners and chillers, refrigeration units and foams. The regulations will help to significantly reduce local GHG emissions and will place the Commonwealth in line with 16 other states adopting comparable HFC regulations or legislation, coordinated by the U.S. Climate Alliance (USCA).
“Building on our Administration’s ongoing commitment to fight climate change, these regulations address a powerful pollutant,” said Governor Charlie Baker.  “By taking this action in bipartisan coordination with states across the country, we can make a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions and protect public health.”
“Phasing out HFCs is an important step towards meeting our commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.“As more environmentally friendly alternatives to products containing HFCs are now available, this prohibition protects residents and the environment while providing an opportunity for businesses across Massachusetts.”
HFCs are greenhouse gasses with a global warming potential that is tens to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2), the most common greenhouse gas.  In 2018, HFC emissions in Massachusetts reached 3.69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (MMTCO2E), and HFC emissions were expected to reach 5 million metric tons in 2030 if action was not taken. The regulation is expected to reduce annual HFC emissions in Massachusetts by 0.77 million metric tons CO2 equivalents.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regulation would prohibit selling, leasing, renting, and manufacturing HFC-containing products and equipment. The prohibitions phase in over time based on the end-use, with the earliest prohibitions taking effect on January 1, 2021 and the last prohibitions taking effect on January 1, 2024. The dates of prohibition are based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis of available product alternatives.
The public comment period on the draft regulation will be open through November 3, 2020. A virtual public meeting will be held on October 23.
“By acting regionally, we can make a much larger impact on climate change than by acting alone,” said Energy and Environmental Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “This rule is our latest multi-state climate effort and reinforces the importance of such action, including the Administration’s leadership among Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states as part of the Transportation and Climate Initiative.”
“This rule was developed with input from a wide variety of stakeholders,” said Martin Suuberg, MassDEP Commissioner. “We look forward to receiving comment and finalizing this important regulation.”
MassDEP sought public input on proposing such a regulation through two public meetings held on November 18 and 20, 2019 to gather stakeholder input.
In April 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration established net zero GHG emissions as the Commonwealth’s new legal emissions limit for 2050.  The Commonwealth is working to determine how best to achieve this emissions limit through its 2050 Roadmap, a nation-leading quantitative and qualitative planning effort that will chart multiple technical and policy pathways by which the Commonwealth can equitably and cost-effectively achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and will conclude with the publication of a long-range 2050 Roadmap report. The state’s 2050 Roadmap analysis will directly inform the state’s 2030 emissions limit, which will be set at the end of this year together with the publication of a second report detailing the state’s plan to achieve that limit, the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030.
As transportation emissions account for more than 40 percent of all emissions, the Administration is leading a group of 12 states and the District of Columbia through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) in a bipartisan effort to develop a regional cap-and-invest program that would reduce emissions in the transportation sector and support transportation-related investments, including an estimated $500 million per year in Massachusetts.
HFCs are synthetic gases and, historically, replaced ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a refrigerant. For more information on HFCs and their impact on climate change, see this.
Former EPA Fugitive Guilty of Wire Fraud for Illegal Disposal of Radioactive Filters
James Kenneth Ward pleaded guilty to wire fraud for defrauding an oil/gas operator by promising to legally dispose of radioactive contaminated “filter socks.” Sentencing is scheduled for October 22, 2020.
Zenith Produced Water, LLC owned and operated saltwater disposal wells. Workers use tubular nets, known as filter socks, to collect pollutants and radioactive substances from the saltwater produced from oil drilling. Zenith paid Ward $9,977 to properly incinerate and dispose of the filter socks. Ward, instead, dumped them in an abandoned gas station in North Dakota. This case was prosecuted in the District of Montana since Ward cashed checks there between August 2011 and August 2012.
Prosecutors charged Ward in April 2017, but he was a fugitive from pending state larceny charges in Wyo- ming at the time. Authorities recently apprehended Ward (on a domestic violence charge). After resolving charges in Wyoming, authorities transferred him into federal custody in Montana.
EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division conducted the investigation and a DOJ litigation team is handling the prosecution.
Vehicle and Engine Manufacturers Warned About Hiding Software or Hardware Changes that Affect Emissions
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) sent a letter to automakers and other vehicle and engine manufacturers encouraging them to disclose by the end of the year any unapproved hardware or software programs that impact emissions control systems in vehicles sold in California.
This letter is part of CARB’s ongoing effort to protect public health and reduce combustion pollution so that California’s air quality will meet federal standards.
The move comes as CARB nears completion of a new, state-of the-art testing lab that gives the agency greater ability to detect these unapproved programs.
Prohibited in any form, defeat devices are undisclosed modifications that shut down or reduce the effectiveness of vehicle emissions control equipment under normal driving and vehicle operation. Following their discovery of defeat devices in Volkswagen diesel vehicles in 2015, CARB staff developed additional, sophisticated detection and testing techniques to identify undisclosed software programs, known as auxiliary emission control devices or AECDs, and other unapproved changes in software and hardware that can affect emissions.
Since then, CARB has found similar issues with other manufacturers as part of its ongoing enforcement efforts. These violations have resulted in settlements involving substantial fines and recalls to fix or remove the illegal modifications and mitigate the environmental impact of excess emissions. To date, some settlements with vehicle and engine manufacturers who did not voluntarily disclose violations have been in excess of $1 billion.
AECDs are designed to change the operation of emissions control equipment when required by specific, sometimes extreme driving conditions and generally are designed to protect the engine – for example, when a truck is pulling a maximum load uphill in hot weather for an extended period of time.
If fully disclosed when the vehicle is being certified for sale in California, an AECD may be legal as there may be a technically justified rationale for its limited use. But if the modification is not disclosed, and CARB detects it during its extensive surveillance and testing procedures, it is considered a violation of the certification process.
In its letter to manufacturers, CARB makes clear that admission by manufacturers by the end of the year of any undisclosed modifications that impact emissions – including submitting false data, unapproved recalls or technical (field) fixes, and incorrect testing or calibration of the onboard diagnostic system – will be taken into consideration when deciding how to assess updated penalties.
As the letter, signed by Deputy Executive Officer Steve Cliff, states: “Voluntary disclosure will trigger a reduction in penalties. Failure to do so may affect the result of future enforcement actions involving your company when CARB’s new techniques – and its new state-of-the-art testing laboratory opening in 2021 – inevitably detect any violations you may have.”
CARB continues to investigate on- and off-road manufacturers and urges all manufacturers to voluntarily disclose any potential violations of which they are aware by the end of the year. After that time, maximum penalties may be invoked.
Hydrite Chemical Co. Cited for Air Violations
EPA announced a settlement with Hydrite Chemical Co. of Wisconsin that will include a leak detection and repair audit and a $480,500 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA).
“EPA takes seriously every company’s obligation to comply with its air permits to protect our communities,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede. “Today’s enforcement action against Hydrite Chemical Co. reflects this administration’s continued commitment to ensure compliance with federal environmental laws, and to safeguard our clean air.”
Hydrite Chemical Co. owns and operates a chemical blending and manufacturing facility in Cottage Grove, that manages and processes spent solvent provided by other companies. After inspecting the facility, EPA alleged that Hydrite Chemical Co. exceeded permit limits by failing to properly monitor fugitive emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). Under the proposed Consent Decree, Hydrite Chemical Co. must conduct a leak detection and repair (LDAR) audit and implement training procedures and any corrective actions. Following the LDAR audit, the facility must monitor and accurately calculate its air emissions, and establish and comply with HAP limits. The company must also pay a civil penalty of $480,500.
The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
Exide Facility Deemed Imminent and Substantial Endangerment
California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced that it has issued a determination that conditions at Exide’s Vernon facility may present an “imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare or to the environment.”
The timing of this determination is in response to Exide’s request in its chapter 11 bankruptcy case to abandon the Vernon Facility. The United States Department of Justice and the EPA have stated that they will not oppose abandonment of the Vernon facility. A federal Bankruptcy Court in Delaware will rule on Exide’s chapter 11 bankruptcy plan this week. The action taken by DTSC will protect workers and other people from risks posed by the former Exide battery-recycling facility in Vernon if the court authorizes abandonment.
Governor Gavin Newsom said, “For decades, Exide brazenly released lead dust and other toxic substances into the air around its facility, poisoning schools, backyards, and playgrounds in L.A. and is now using bankruptcy for the third time to evade responsibility. In a 2015 deal with the U.S. Department of Justice, it was able to avoid prosecution for its crimes by agreeing to complete the cleanup. I am outraged that the federal government now appears set on allowing Exide to walk away from its responsibility while Californians are left behind, further jeopardizing the health of the many families in the communities surrounding the Exide site. This is simply unacceptable.”
“We have a limited window of opportunity to prevent this abandonment from moving forward in court, so time is of the essence. California leaders are unified to fight this injustice and stand ready to take any and all possible actions that will result in justice for these communities,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Secretary for the California Environmental Protection Agency.”
Dr. Meredith Williams, Director of DTSC said, “DTSC will continue to work alongside these communities to address the toxic chemicals left by Exide’s operations. While we’ve been fighting the bankruptcy, we remain focused on our work on the residential cleanup. We are making significant progress, having completed cleanup of over 2,000 properties. Today’s determination is a proactive step to ensure that we can protect these communities against further releases from this facility, should it be abandoned.”
DTSC issued this determination in light of facility site conditions and in response to Exide’s most recent bankruptcy filing, in which Exide proposes to abandon the property. Currently, multiple temporary protective structures have been installed at the site to prevent release of contaminated water and dust containing extremely high levels of lead and other metals. Those protective structures require daily maintenance. DTSC is concerned that if a court allows Exide to abandon the site, no one would be responsible for maintaining these safety controls and people on-site and off-site could be placed at risk.
In 2015, following pressure from regulators and the community and to avoid criminal indictment, Exide entered into a Non-prosecution Agreement with U.S. Department of Justice and committed to permanently close the facility and commence cleanup of the site and surrounding communities.
This determination is an update and expansion to an earlier imminent and substantial endangerment determination DTSC issued in 2015 for the residential area around the facility. This updated determination includes Exide’s former facility and does not change DTSC’s 2015 determination’s in residential areas. No funds from the residential cleanup will be diverted to overseeing the safe closure of the facility. DTSC required Exide to provide $26.4 million in financial assurance funds, which DTSC will use to ensure continuation of the work of safely closing the facility and protecting the people who live and work nearby.
In response to significant public outcry over Exide’s proposal to abandon the Vernon site, the US DOJ and US EPA have agreed to hold a virtual public meeting. The meeting will be held on Tuesday October 13, from 4:00 to 7:00 pm (Pacific) to allow the community to be heard by the Justice Department.
EPA Sued by Environmental Groups Over Weak Emission Standards for Chemical Plants
Eleven community, scientist, environmental, and environmental justice groups represented by Earthjustice sued the EPA over a weak national emission rule for hundreds of chemical facilities whose pollution is linked to cancer. The Miscellaneous Organic Chemical Manufacturing, or MON rule, regulates toxic emissions for about 200 chemical plants across the country. These plants emit over 7,400 tons a year of dangerous air pollutants, including at least 2,000 pounds of ethylene oxide, an aggressive carcinogen. EPA updated the rule earlier this year after the national air toxics assessment showed this pollution is contributing to cancer risk hot spots in the United States.
Industrial plants covered by the MON rule handle chemicals used in the production of solvents, plastics, and pesticides. During this process, potent carcinogens, like ethylene oxide, 1,3-butadiene, benzene, formaldehyde, and other toxic fumes that people breathe, are dumped into neighboring communities. The environmental groups claim that MON rule leaves people in surrounding areas exposed to cancer risks of 200-in-1 million, twice the level EPA admits is unacceptable under the Clean Air Act.
“EPA’s recognizes that communities are facing a blatantly unacceptable cancer threat from breathing toxic air every day, yet it does little to fix this problem,” said Emma Cheuse, Earthjustice attorney. “It’s unjust and wrong that the agency is again refusing to set standards that fully protect children and families living next to petrochemical sources. Now, in the middle of a respiratory pandemic, communities have to take EPA to court to ensure that chemical plants use up-to-date pollution controls, and common-sense fence line monitoring for the toxic air they release into nearby neighborhoods.”
MON facilities are located around the U.S., but especially concentrated in Texas and Louisiana, and disproportionately affect Black, Latino, and low-income communities. Other states with MON facilities include West Virginia, Illinois, and South Carolina. EPA's MON rule allows periodic, uncontrolled releases of chemical pollution, while communities need around-the-clock protection from toxic air. This rule allows facilities to spew fugitive emissions into communities without monitoring, and permits facilities to do so repeatedly, even if pollution levels are too high.
The groups claim that EPA has known of the pollution and extreme health harms associated with MON plants for years; still, it chose inaction. According to federal law, EPA was supposed to review and update the national MON standards by 2014, but years later, the agency had still failed to meet the deadline. Communities affected by these emissions represented by Earthjustice, forced EPA to finish the rule through litigation and in 2017 a court ordered EPA to review and update this rule.
Oil Company Required to Protect Hawaiian Waterways from Oil Spills
EPA announced a proposed settlement with Lanai Oil Company, Inc. (Lanai Oil) for Clean Water Act violations at its facility on Lanai Island. Under the agreement, Lanai Oil is required to pay a penalty of $71,166. EPA believes the penalty will reduce the risk of oil spills from their terminal to Lanai’s Kaumalapau Harbor and the Pacific Ocean.
“It is critical that companies operating near our waterways develop and follow a spill prevention plan,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Our action will help prevent oil spills to Hawaii’s harbors and coastal waters.”
The Lanai facility is located on the leeward side on a property about 200 feet from Kaumalapau Harbor. An EPA inspection in November 2018 found that Lanai Oil had violated the Clean Water Act’s oil pollution prevention regulations by failing to:
  • Review and evaluate the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan at least once every five years.
  • Conduct integrity testing of the aboveground storage tanks.
  • Permanently close out-of-service aboveground storage tanks.
EPA’s oil pollution prevention regulations aim to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters and adjoining shorelines and to ensure containment of oil discharges in the event of a spill. Specific prevention measures include developing and implementing spill prevention plans, training staff, and installing physical controls to contain and clean up oil spills.
Electrolux Fined for Illegal Imports of Air Filter Products with Nanosilver
EPA announced a settlement with Electrolux Home Products, Inc., to resolve alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). As part of the settlement, Electrolux will pay a civil penalty in the amount of $6,991,400.
The settlement resolves claims that Electrolux imported unregistered pesticides in violation of section 12(a)(1)(A) of FIFRA and failed to file the required Notice of Arrival in violation of section 12(a)(2)(N) of FIFRA.
Electrolux imported approximately 420,000 Frigidaire brand dehumidifiers and air conditioners that contained filters incorporating an unregistered nanosilver and which were labeled and marketed with pesticidal claims. The claims included “antibacterial filter,” and “helps eliminate bacteria in the air that can make breathing difficult.” The imports occurred between January 11 and May 12, 2020 at eleven different U.S. ports of entry (Boston, Mass.; Worcester, Mass.; New York/Newark, N.J.; Norfolk, Va.; Wilmington, N.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Chicago, Ill.; Columbus, Ohio; San Francisco, Calif.; and Los Angeles/Long Beach, Calif.).
EPA worked closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection across ports and EPA regions to prevent Electrolux’s 420,000 unregistered pesticide products from entering U.S. commerce. After Electrolux agreed to remove the filters with the unregistered nanosilver, both agencies worked together to conditionally release all the shipments held nationwide so that Electrolux could consolidate them, under EPA administrative order, at its own facilities. Electrolux then systematically replaced the filters manufactured with nanosilver and removed the online and on-box pesticidal claims for not only the products it had imported, but for some additional products already in the U.S. To date, Electrolux has returned over 500,000 air conditioners and dehumidifiers to compliance.
The sale and distribution of unregistered pesticides may pose risks to human health and the environment. If EPA has not reviewed reliable data about the how the pesticide product works and what kinds of exposures may impact the user, then the risk to the consumer and the environment is unknown and use of the product is potentially unsafe. Additionally, consumers may be misled to believe a pesticide product provides public health benefits that it may not.
Applicants for pesticide registration are required to submit efficacy data to the agency to substantiate any public health claims they intend to make for their pesticide product. Before EPA can register a pesticide, the agency must determine that no unreasonable adverse effects on human health and the environment will occur when the pesticide product is used according to its label directions. The only nanosilver pesticides that are currently registered with the EPA are approved solely for incorporation into textiles to protect those articles themselves from antimicrobial pests such as mold and bacteria that can cause deterioration, discoloration or odors. No nanosilver pesticide is registered with the EPA for use in home appliances to disinfect the ambient air or protect the health of the user.
Consumers should be diligent and scrutinize any public health claims for air filter products. If the product is not registered with the EPA, then consumers should understand that the EPA has not reviewed any data supporting those claims for that particular product.
$500,000 Fine for Illegal Asbestos Work
A Boston investment property group and its related construction and management companies, a Brockton environmental consulting firm, and a New-Hampshire abatement company will pay a total of $500,000 to settle allegations regarding illegal asbestos abatement activity during their demolition and renovation project in downtown Worcester, Attorney General Maura Healey announced.
The consent judgments, entered in Suffolk Superior Court, settle allegations that MG2 Group, LLC, the property investment group, Alaris Construction, LLC, the construction company, Grandis Realty Management, LLC, the building management company, Main Five Zero Seven, LLC, the building owner (together, the MG2 entities), Advanced Building Systems, Inc. (ABS), the abatement company, and Boston Environmental Corporation (BEC), violated the state’s clean air law and its regulations governing asbestos by failing to take the legally required precautions for performing asbestos work while renovating multiple floors of a partially occupied 84-unit residential and commercial building in downtown Worcester.
The AG’s Office alleges that the defendants’ illegal actions caused air pollution and put the health of their workers and the building’s tenants at serious risk. The AG’s complaint alleges that during the renovation of the building – which contains one floor of commercial space and ten floors of apartments – the MG2 entities failed to notify the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) of demolition and renovation work that affected asbestos-containing material and failed to contain, handle, and dispose of the asbestos material legally and safely over a period of several months, despite having experience with asbestos.
The building tenants eventually notified MassDEP about the illegal asbestos work potentially affecting their homes and families. After MassDEP stopped the unsafe work and ordered a cleanup, the MG2 entities hired ABS and BEC to perform and oversee the cleanup, respectively. The AG’s Office alleges that the MG2 entities and BEC, however, allowed ABS to violate the cleanup plan, perform illegal abatement work and recontaminate areas of the building, including on an occupied floor, resulting in the potential exposure of tenants and workers to asbestos and violations of the Clean Air Act. According to the AG’s complaint, the MG2 entities continued to violate the state’s asbestos regulations by allowing illegal abatement work by ABS and another subcontractor after MassDEP’s involvement.
“Commercial property owners and building managers, as well as construction and asbestos consulting and abatement companies, are all well-aware of the need to identify asbestos-containing materials and must ensure that those materials are properly removed before beginning any demolition or renovation,” said MaryJude Pigsley, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “Asbestos is a known carcinogen and following the required work practices is imperative to protect workers and the public.”
Under the settlement, the MG2 entities have also agreed to conduct an extensive asbestos audit of 20 of its properties. They will pay for a professional asbestos survey of those properties, and for the abatement of any asbestos containing material that requires abatement by law. The MG2 entities have also agreed to complete additional asbestos training requirements for its project managers and enhanced notification procedures that will assist MassDEP in tracking and monitoring the MG2 entities’ asbestos work.
ABS has agreed to pay $125,000 in civil penalties, $25,000 of which will be suspended pending compliance with the consent judgment. The company has also agreed to enhanced training and monitoring requirements, including the training of the company’s president as an asbestos project manager and personal inspections of all of the company’s asbestos abatement work by the president or a hired professional substitute.
BEC has agreed to pay $75,000 in civil penalties, $25,000 of which will be suspended for two years pending no further violations of the state’s clean air law and regulations.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in a wide variety of building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. If asbestos is improperly handled or maintained, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, potentially resulting in life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, and long-term disease for which there is no known effective treatment. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin membranes of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart, that may not show up until many years after exposure, and that has no known cure, although treatment methods are available to address the effects of the disease.
For more information on asbestos and asbestos-related work, visit MassDEP’s website outlining asbestos construction and demolition notification requirements.
Roto Ops, LLC Fined $143,420 for Uncertified Electric Spas
Roto Ops, LLC dba Dream Maker Spas (Roto Ops) is a Lake Mary, Florida, based company that manufactures portable electric spas. Roto Ops sold or offered for sale portable electric spas in California, from July 2015 to March 2019.
This case was the result of an investigation performed by California Energy Commission (CEC) staff. CEC’s investigation and testing process identified that Roto Ops was manufacturing and offering for sale portable electric spas that did not meet the efficiency standard and were not certified to the Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System (MAEDbS).
To settle this matter, Roto Ops executed a Settlement Agreement with CEC on October 5, 2020, for $143,420.00. The penalty monies are deposited into the Appliance Efficiency Enforcement Subaccount established by SB 454 of 2011 (Pavley). Roto Ops has also agreed to a compliance plan to test all models using the applicable test method to ensure conformance with the efficiency standard and certify all models to MAEDbS before continuing to sell in California.
TDEC To Celebrate Zero Waste Day October 27
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and its partners will celebrate Tennessee’s inaugural Zero Waste Day on Oct. 27 to raise awareness about waste in Tennessee and educate citizens on actions they can take to reduce it.
“Now is the time for Tennessee to reconsider the way we think about waste,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “TDEC and its partners encourage Tennesseans to focus on reducing their waste by being aware of where it comes from and where it is going, and to make responsible decisions along the way.”
TDEC and several local and regional partners including the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Tennessee Environmental Council, the Southeast Recycling Development Council, and the Tennessee Recycling Coalition are challenging Tennesseans to improve their waste habits.
In 2018, Tennesseans produced 8.1 million tons of waste, which amounted to 6.56 pounds of waste generated per person each day. This is 31.7 percent more waste generated per person each day than the national average of 4.51 pounds of waste per person per day.
Throughout October leading up to Zero Waste Day, TDEC will provide daily zero waste tips on social media. These waste reduction tips will be useful, cost-effective ideas that can be easily implemented by all Tennesseans.
On Zero Waste Day, TDEC and its partners are encouraging citizens to participate in challenges that support each of the following five waste reduction actions:
  • Re-think – Adjust your behavior as a consumer and make purchasing choices that limit your impact on the environment.
  • Reduce – Be mindful of unnecessary and wasteful items and learn to live without them.
  • Reuse – Give possessions a second life through creative reuse, repurposing, or donation.
  • Recycle – Use existing products to create new ones and reduce dependence on virgin materials and associated natural resource impacts.
  • Re-Earth – Compost your organics to divert the single largest waste stream from landfills.
“By adopting these Zero Waste principles, we can greatly reduce our impact on Tennessee's environment, preserve our natural resources for future generations, and reduce the growing costs associated with the collection and disposal of our solid waste,” TDEC Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices Director Kendra Abkowitz said.
Challenge participation will open Oct. 27 on the Office of Policy and Sustainable Practice’s social media accounts (details below) and TDEC’s Zero Waste TN website. Participants will have the full day to complete challenges in support of Zero Waste Day.
Tennesseans can share examples of their participation in Zero Waste Day challenges on TDEC’s Zero Waste TN website for the opportunity to earn waste reducing items such as re-usable straws, food preservation products, reusable travel utensils, or a home composting kit. Individuals who take part in all five challenges will receive special recognition from TDEC for their exemplary participation in Zero Waste Day.
To learn more about TDEC’s Zero Waste Day, follow @TNSustainability on Facebook, @thestateofsustainability on Instagram, or visit the Zero Waste Day website.
Companies Bet Big on Chemical Plastic Recycling
Plastic waste is an increasing environmental concern, leading manufacturers to take bold action on creating a circular economy based on chemical recycling. Despite these lofty goals, environmentalists are concerned that the efforts do not address the real issue of plastic overuse. A new article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, explains how industry is trying to tackle the problem of plastics.
The Society of Conservation Biology estimates that up to 23 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year, causing consumers and regulators alike to push for change in how plastics are manufactured and disposed, writes Senior Editor Alex Tullo. Mechanical recycling is limited in the number of times a plastic can be re-used and for what types of packaging, so manufacturers are eyeing chemical recycling as a solution. Chemical processes like depolymerization and pyrolysis break down plastics into their building blocks, allowing them to be made into new polymers or used for other applications such as diesel fuel. Experts also say that some chemically recycled plastics will be suitable for use in medical and food applications, which have strict safety requirements.
While the promise of chemical recycling is enticing, environmental groups are critical of the practice, saying that reducing the amount of plastic consumption is the only real solution to the crisis. Chemical recycling will help companies meet their environmental pledges, they say, but may in turn increase the amount of disposable packaging produced and energy consumed. In addition, critics have pointed out that these ambitious recycling projects might not be viable, with only a small number making it past the pilot stage. Despite these concerns, some early studies indicate that chemical recycling will result in environmental benefits, providing companies with a major opportunity to reduce plastic waste in the coming decade.
Crown Cork & Seal Fined $60,173 for Air Quality Violations
Crown Cork & Seal, a company that makes packaging products, has agreed to pay a $60,173 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for air quality violations at its manufacturing facility in Owatonna.
Crown Cork’s air permit limits its emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs, a class of commonly regulated air pollutants) to 100 tons a year, but the company disclosed that it exceeded that limit, in its required reporting to the MPCA in March. In 2019, the facility exceeded its emissions limits by 2.9 tons in October, 1.7 tons in November, and one ton in December.
Increased demand for one of the facility’s products caused the exceedances. The company’s permit requires it to estimate the effect that increased output may have on emissions, and take steps to avoid exceeding the facility’s permit limits. Failing to meet those requirements violates state and federal laws. In addition to the civil penalty, the company had to take corrective actions to prevent future excess emissions.
$15,988 Fine for Petroleum Storage Tank Violations
River Country Cooperative has paid a $15,988 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for petroleum storage tank violations at its facility in South St. Paul.
An MPCA staff inspection showed that River Country Cooperative failed to conduct required inspections of three steel petroleum-storage tanks in 2014 and 2019, and failed to keep proper records. These kinds of tanks are supposed to be inspected externally every five years, and internally every ten years.
In addition to paying the civil penalty, River Country Cooperative had to have an authorized inspector perform external and internal inspections of the tanks and document that the inspections were performed.
Scrap Metal Facility Fined for Air Permit Violations
EPA and SMM New England Corporation (SMM, aka, Sims Metal Management) a major scrap metals recycler in Johnston, Rhode Island, have reached a settlement resolving administrative penalty claims that the company allegedly violated the federal Clean Air Act.
Under the settlement, SMM will come into compliance with state and federal clean air requirements and will pay $250,000 in penalties.
"This case is an excellent example of the benefits of state and federal collaboration. Rhode Island and EPA worked together to help ensure cleaner, healthier air for citizens in and around Johnston, R.I.," said Dennis Deziel, Regional Administrator of EPA's Region 1 office. "These settlements send a strong message that all facilities are required to comply with the Clean Air Act and state permitting regulations to control harmful air emissions."
EPA, in concert with Rhode Island's Attorney General and the R.I. Dept. of Environmental Management (RIDEM), alleged that SMM constructed a new major source of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions without securing a permit and without installing required emission controls. This is a violation of the State of Rhode Island's clean air "state implementation plan," the mechanism under which states and EPA ensure that air quality attains national health-based standards. In Rhode Island's related action, the Rhode Island Superior Court finalized a consent judgment in September 2020 under which SMM will pay a separate penalty to the State and will take all steps necessary to come into compliance with air permitting and air pollution control requirements.
The metal shredder that SMM owns and operates at its Johnston location shreds end-of-life automobiles, appliances and other light gauge recyclable metal-bearing materials. This electrically operated, 7,000 horsepower shredder generates enough heat to melt or burn the plastics, paints, and oils in the scrap metal materials, causing harmful air emissions of VOCs, particulate matter, and toxic air contaminants.
Three Companies Cited for Violations of California’s Trucking Pollution Regulations
EPA announced settlements with three interstate trucking companies imposing $417,000 in penalties for violating the California Air Resources Board’s federally enforceable Truck and Bus Regulation, Drayage Truck Regulation and Transport Refrigeration Unit Regulation.
“As trucks are one of the largest sources of air pollution in California, EPA will continue to ensure these heavy-duty vehicles have the needed pollution-control equipment and operate in compliance with the rules,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “These companies have agreed to bring their trucks into compliance and operate more cleanly in all communities they serve.”
Transportation is a primary contributor to the high levels of air pollutants in Southern California and the Central Valley. Diesel emissions from trucks are one of the state’s largest sources of fine particle pollution, or soot, which is linked to health issues including asthma, impaired lung development in children, and cardiovascular effects in adults. Many of these trucks are older models and emit high amounts of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
Some communities face a higher risk from respiratory and cardiovascular illness. For example, the area around Southern California’s I-710 freeway, which passes through 15 cities and unincorporated areas with a population of over one million residents - about 70% of which are minority and low-income populations  is dense with goods-transport traffic, industrial facilities, residences, schools and day care facilities and serves the nearby ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. These entry points account for 40% of all imports to the U.S. The San Joaquin Valley’s air quality is also affected by heavy truck traffic on I-5 and Highway 99.
EPA completed separate administrative settlement agreements with three companies:
  • Roadrunner Transportation Systems, Inc. operated heavy-duty diesel vehicles that lacked the diesel particulate filters required by the Truck and Bus Regulation and operated unregistered and noncompliant drayage trucks. The company also hired carriers to transport goods in California without verifying that the vehicles complied with the Truck and Bus Regulation, and dispatched drayage trucks without required record-keeping. As part of the settlement, the company will pay a $117,000 civil penalty and has agreed to use compliant trucks.
  • Ruan Transportation Management Systems Inc. operated heavy-duty diesel trucks in California lacking the required diesel particulate filters. Ruan also failed to verify that the carriers it hired to transport goods in California complied with the Truck and Bus Regulation. Ruan is the first company cited by EPA for failing to timely meet specified PM emission reductions in transport refrigeration equipment under State of California requirements. As part of the settlement, the company will pay a $125,000 civil penalty and will use compliant trucks.
  • The Boise Cascade Company failed to verify that the carriers it hired to transport goods in California complied with the Truck and Bus Regulation. As part of the settlement, the company will pay a $175,000 civil penalty and has agreed to use compliant trucks.
For the past several years, the California Truck and Bus Regulation and Drayage Truck Regulation have been essential parts of the state’s federally enforceable plan to attain cleaner air. California requires trucking companies to upgrade vehicles they own to meet specific NOx and PM performance standards and to verify compliance of vehicles they hire or dispatch. Heavy-duty diesel trucks in California must meet 2010 engine emissions standards or use diesel particulate filters to reduce the diesel particulates emissions into the atmosphere by 85% or more. Owners and operators of drayage trucks operating in California must meet specific emissions standards and register these trucks with the state. Under California’s Transport Refrigeration Unit Regulation, owners and operators of transport refrigeration equipment that operate in California must meet performance standards that reduce particulate emissions by at least 50% (or 85% by certain deadlines depending upon the model year and horsepower of the equipment).
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Environmental Resource Center Update
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