July 19, 2021
California’s Health and Safety Code requires that certain substances identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) be listed as known to cause cancer under Proposition 65. Labor Code section 6382(b)(1) refers to substances identified as human or animal carcinogens by IARC. The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has adopted regulations concerning these listings in Title 27, Cal.Code of Regs., section 25904. As the lead agency for the implementation of Proposition 65, OEHHA evaluates whether a chemical’s listing is required.
that the agency intends to list the following chemicals as known to the state to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65):
- Tetrahydrofuran (CAS RN 109-99-9)
- 2-Ethylhexyl acrylate (CAS RN 103-11-7)
- Methyl acrylate (CAS RN 96-33-3)
- Trimethylolpropane triacrylate, technical grade
According to OEHHA, Tetrahydrofuran, 2-ethylhexyl acrylate, methyl acrylate, and trimethylolpropane triacrylate, technical grade meet the requirements for listing as known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of Proposition 65. IARC has published on its website “IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 119. Some Chemicals That Cause Tumours of the Urinary Tract in Rodents," (IARC, 2019a) and “IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 122. Isobutyl Nitrite, β-picoline, and Some Acrylates,” (IARC, 2019b). IARC concluded that tetrahydrofuran, 2-ethylhexyl acrylate, methyl acrylate, and trimethylolpropane triacrylate, technical grade are “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B) based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals (IARC, 2019a; IARC 2019b).
OEHHA is providing an opportunity to comment as to whether the chemicals identified above meet the requirements for listing as causing cancer specified in Health and Safety Code section 25249.8(a), Labor Code section 6382(b)(1), and Title 27, Cal. Code of Regs., section 25904(b). Because these are ministerial listings, the OEHHA indicated that comments should be limited to whether IARC has identified the specific chemical or substance as a human or animal carcinogen. Under this listing mechanism, OEHHA cannot consider scientific arguments concerning the weight or quality of the evidence considered by IARC when it identified these chemicals and will not respond to such comments if they are submitted (Title 27, Cal. Code of Regs., section 25904(c)).
Written comments must be received by July 26, 2021 to be considered. OEHHA strongly recommends that comments be submitted electronically through the website at https://oehha.ca.gov/comments
, rather than in paper form.
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. You’ll 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.
Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast training is the best way to learn how to comply with the latest regulations that apply to your site. Learn from the experts and get your site-specific questions answered at these upcoming sessions:
High Temperatures Increase Workers’ Injury Risk, Whether They’re Outdoors or Inside
A UCLA study
shows that hot weather significantly increases the risk of accidents and injuries on the job, regardless of whether the work takes place in an indoor or outdoor setting.
The report is based on data from California’s workers’ compensation system, the nation’s largest. “The incidence of heat illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke definitely go up on hotter days,” said the study’s lead researcher R. Jisung Park,
an assistant professor of public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
“But what we found is that ostensibly unrelated incidents — like falling off a ladder or being hit by a moving truck or getting your hand caught in a machine — tend to occur more frequently on hotter days, too.”
By comparing records from more than 11 million California workers’ compensation claims from 2001 to 2018 to high-frequency local weather data, Park and his co-authors isolated the impact of hotter days on the number of injury claims.
The study shows that on days with high temperature above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, workers have a 6% to 9% higher risk of injuries than they do on days with high temperatures in the 50s or 60s. When the thermometer tops 100, the risk of injuries increases by 10% to 15%.
Those findings are particularly alarming in the context of climate change, which is expected to produce more high-temperature days each year. The researchers estimate that high temperatures already cause about 15,000 injuries per year in California.
“Heat is sometimes described as a silent killer,” said Nora Pankratz, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar. “But if you look into the data and do the statistical analysis, you find that heat has a significant impact on mortality and health outcomes.”
It’s not surprising that hot weather would lead to injuries and illness among workers in predominantly outdoor industries such as agriculture, utilities and construction. But the data consistently show that industries in which most people work indoors are affected as well. In manufacturing, for example, days with high temperatures above 95 degrees have an injury risk that is approximately 7% higher than days with high temperatures in the low 60s.
“A lot of manufacturing facilities are not air conditioned,” said Stanford University postdoctoral scholar A. Patrick Behrer, the study’s other co-author. “Because you're inside, you don't necessarily think about the temperature as being a major threat.”
The reality is that overheated workers face numerous risks, regardless of where the work occurs.
“Heat affects your physiology,” Park said. “It affects your cognition. It affects your body's ability to cope. It seems possible that what we're observing in the data for these workers is that they’re more likely to make mistakes or errors in judgment.”
The researchers found that heat-related workplace injuries are more likely to be suffered by men and lower-income workers. In addition, younger people suffer more heat-related injuries, possibly in part because they’re more likely to hold jobs with greater physical risks on construction sites, in manufacturing plants or at warehouses.
For an office worker at a computer desk, nodding off on a hot summer afternoon is unlikely to cause an injury. “But if you have a huge chainsaw in your hand, you're not in a great situation,” Park said.
Among the paper’s other conclusions:
- The number of heat-related injuries actually declined after 2005, when California became the first state to implement mandatory heat illness prevention measures for outdoor workplaces on days when temperatures exceed 95 degrees.
- The financial costs of heat-related injuries may be between $750 million and $1.25 billion per year in California alone, considering health care expenditures, lost wages and productivity, and disability claims.
- Inequalities in the labor market are exacerbated in part by the fact that low-income communities tend to be situated in hotter parts of the state. People in the state’s lowest household income tier are approximately five times more likely to be affected by heat-related illness or injury on the job than those in the top income tier, the study found.
The study is available now through the Institute of Labor Economics, which disseminates working versions of potentially influential research prior to publication in academic journals.
Oregon OSHA Offers Educational Resources, Boosts Enforcement Activity to Address Dangers of Heat Stress
Following adoption of the nation’s strongest requirements to protect workers from heat stress, Oregon OSHA is offering educational and training resources to help employers comply. At the same time, the division will aggressively enforce the rule over the next several months by reassigning inspectors, approving overtime, and addressing heat issues in tandem with other enforcement activity.
“Oregon OSHA is committing to a multi-faceted effort, involving both education and enforcement, to ensure employers carry out the specific steps of this emergency rule to protect workers from heat stress dangers at work,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “We are launching a new emphasis program, which will increase our presence in the field this weekend and over the months ahead.”
The division’s emergency temporary rule
– enacted July 8 – remains in effect until Jan. 3, 2022, or until it is replaced sooner by a permanent heat stress prevention rule, which is expected to occur later this year. The temporary emergency rule applies to any workplace – outdoors and indoors – where heat dangers are caused by the weather. The requirements include expanded access to shade and cool water; regular cool-down breaks; training; communication; and emergency planning.
The following Oregon OSHA resources are free and available now to employers for help with complying with the emergency heat stress requirements. These resources involve no fault, no citations, and no penalties:
Consultation services – Provides free help with safety and health programs, including how to control and eliminate hazards, and hands-on training
Technical staff – Helps employers understand requirements and how to apply them to their worksites
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which includes Oregon OSHA, maintains a Multicultural Communications Program that provides outreach to communities with limited English proficiency. That outreach encompasses information about on-the-job safety and health. The program includes a toll-free phone number for Spanish-speaking Oregonians: 800-843-8086.
Oregon OSHA has compiled the following state and national education and training resources to help employers achieve compliance and reduce the risk of heat stress to workers. The following resources are free and available now in English and Spanish.
Oregon OSHA’s move to increase enforcement activity against heat stress is spelled out in its new, soon-to-be-released emphasis program. The program includes further guidance to inspectors on what to focus on and how to document violations under the emergency heat stress requirements. It focuses inspection efforts where either outdoor or indoor work activities are performed and where the heat index – the apparent temperature – equals or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Under the temporary emergency requirements, employers are required to take specific steps when the heat index reaches or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, including providing sufficient shade and an adequate supply of drinking water. When the heat index exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit, employers are required to follow all of the rules at the 80-degree threshold and to take more measures. Those measures include communication and observation, regular cool-down breaks, emergency planning, and gradual adaptation of employees to the heat.
The emphasis program also spells out the following enforcement moves:
- Beginning July 16, 2021, and continuing through at least Sept. 30, 2021, Oregon OSHA will identify more enforcement capability to focus on heat-related issues.
- Additional enforcement capability will come through reassignment of existing staff members, the use of overtime, and addressing heat issues in tandem with other inspection activity.
- Addressing heat issues in tandem with other inspection activity will include – but not be limited to – evaluating heat stress concerns during fall prevention inspections in construction and field sanitation inspections in agriculture.
Penalties vary for violations of Oregon OSHA rules, in part, on the size of the employer, the risk involved, and the probability of a worker getting hurt. Under the division’s penalty structure, the maximum penalty for a serious violation that is not a willful or repeat offense is $12,675. A willful violation carries a maximum penalty of $126,749.
Meanwhile, Oregon OSHA continues to work on a permanent heat stress prevention rule with an eye on adopting it this fall. The temporary rule was adopted following direction from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to enact emergency measures.
The emergency rule documents are available for review in the following ways:
NIOSH: Approaches to Developing Occupational Exposure Limits or Bands for Engineered Nanomaterials
Most chemical substances, including engineered nanomaterials, do not have specific occupational exposure limits. Alternative methods are needed to assess the potential occupational safety and health hazards of engineered nanomaterials. Categorical occupational exposure limits are one approach to estimating exposure concentrations for groups of materials with similar toxicological effects and/or physicochemical properties. Occupational exposure banding is another approach to protect worker health by assigning chemical substances into specific categories or “bands” based on their associated health outcomes and on potency considerations. These bands correspond to a range of airborne exposure concentrations to inform risk management decisions for substances that do not have occupational exposure limits.
NIOSH has proposed an evidence-based approach
to evaluate the scientific information available in order to derive occupational exposure limits, or bands, for engineered nanomaterials. This proposed approach is described in the draft NIOSH technical report available for public comment, Approaches to Developing Occupational Exposure Limits or Bands for Engineered Nanomaterials: User Guide and Technical Report. This draft report contains two main parts: (I) User Guide and (II) full Technical Report and Appendixes.
The purpose of the public comment period is to obtain comments on the draft report. Comments are being sought from individuals including scientists and representatives from various government agencies, industry, labor, and other stakeholders, and also the public. If there are errors of fact, unsubstantiated claims, evidence of careless experimental work, inclusion of too much information already in the literature, or statements that are inaccurate, please note such in your review comments.
The authors ask that special emphasis be placed on technical review of the following issues:
- Does the draft document adequately describe the process for gathering and evaluating the information available on occupational exposure limits or bands for engineered nanomaterials?
- Does the draft document adequately describe the development of a framework for categorizing engineered nanomaterials by potential occupational health hazard from inhalation exposure?
- Are the clustering and classification modeling methodologies reasonable for these data?
- Is a revision to current occupational exposure banding guidance needed to incorporate a band F?
- How useful and practical is the approach described in both the user guide and full technical report for deriving categorical occupational exposure limits, and what are the opportunities for improvement?
- Are the current searches and collection of scientific data sufficient, and are there additional opportunities for obtaining data that were not included?
- Would the methods used in the report also be appropriate for a future comprehensive dataset of experimental, toxicological, and physicochemical information for engineered nanomaterials?
- Are there additional comments that you would like to provide?
Final CO2 Budget Trading Program Rule Adopted in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) voted to adopt the final-form rulemaking of the multistate CO2 budget trading program, also known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional CO2 Budget Trading Program. The vote was 15 to 4.
“This is a milestone in helping Pennsylvanians get one step closer to combating the ills of climate change,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI would establish a program to limit CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric power plants located in Pennsylvania. Emissions of CO2 is a greenhouse gas and is a major contributor to climate change, which is detrimental to public health and welfare in Pennsylvania. Following this EQB meeting, the next step in the regulatory process is review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).
Pennsylvania has the fifth leading CO2 emitting electricity generation sector in the United States, and RGGI is a significant component in achieving Pennsylvania’s goals to reduce net GHG emissions from 2005 levels by 26% by 2025 and 80% by 2050.
RGGI is a “cap and invest” program that sets a regulatory limit on CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGU) and permits trading of CO2 allowances to effect cost efficient compliance with the regulatory limit. RGGI provides a ''two-prong'' approach to reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired EGUs. The first prong is a declining CO2 emissions budget and the second prong involves investment of the proceeds resulting from the auction of CO2 allowances to further reduce CO2 emissions. Each participating state establishes its own annual CO2 emissions budget which sets the total amount of CO2 emitted from fossil fuel-fired EGUs in a year.
This final-form rulemaking is authorized under the Air Pollution Control Act (APCA), which grants the Board the authority to adopt rules and regulations for the prevention, control, reduction, and abatement of air pollution in Pennsylvania. This final-form rulemaking would effectuate least cost CO2 emission reductions for the years 2022 through 2030.
What is commonly referred to as the ''RGGI cap'' on emissions is a reference to the total of all the state CO2 emissions budgets. This final-form rulemaking includes a declining annual CO2 emissions budget, which starts at 78 million tons in 2022 and ends at 58 million tons in 2030. This is anticipated to reduce CO2 emissions in Pennsylvania by 31% compared to 2019. The declining annual CO2 emissions budget is equivalent to the CO2 allowance budget, which is the number of CO2 allowances available each year.
EPA’s Safer Choice Program Highlighted in Amazon’s Sustainable Shopping Initiative
is an EPA Pollution Prevention (P2) program
, which includes practices that reduce, eliminate, or prevent pollution at its source, such as using safer ingredients in products. EPA’s Safer Choice program certifies products containing ingredients that have met the program’s rigorous human health and environmental safety criteria. The Safer Choice program allows companies to use its label on products that meet the Safer Choice Standard
. A complete list of Safer Choice-certified products is available at www.epa.gov/saferchoice/products
Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly initiative
has announced that it now includes cleaning and other products certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choice program. Safer Choice is now one of 30 sustainability certifications highlighted under Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly initiative which helps customers shop for more than 75,000 products through the company’s online store. Highlighting Safer Choice-certified products makes it easier for consumers to locate products that contain safer chemical ingredients without sacrificing quality or performance.
“We are pleased that Amazon is increasing awareness of products with safer ingredients by including EPA’s Safer Choice certification in its initiative,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Michal Freedhoff. “EPA’s Safer Choice program provides national and international leadership for our chemical safety mission in a way that benefits families, children, workers, communities, pets, and the environment.”
EPA reviews all ingredients in Safer Choice-certified products
, regardless of percentage, and they must meet specific human health and environmental criteria. For example, they cannot contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and must meet low-toxicity limits and biodegrade quickly. Limiting VOCs can improve indoor air quality. Ensuring low toxicity and rapid biodegradation can help protect water resources impacted by climate change. This is particularly important when products like detergents go down the drain or when products are used outside and may go directly into the environment and waterways.
Products identified as Climate Pledge Friendly are distinguished on Amazon’s website by an hourglass-with-wings symbol. The company also provides its customers with detailed web pages that include information on how and why products are certified as sustainable.
Later this year, EPA will award the 2021 Safer Choice Partner of the Year awards. In support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals, EPA will select winners with consideration for those that show how their work in the design, manufacture, selection and use of those products promotes environmental justice, bolsters resilience to the impacts of climate change, results in cleaner air or water, or improves drinking water quality.
Former Custom Carbon Processing President Sentenced for Failing To Surrender to Prison for Convictions Stemming From Explosion of Wibaux Oil Processing Plant
The former president of Custom Carbon Processing, Inc., convicted of Clean Air Act violations in the explosion of an oil processing plant in Wibaux, was sentenced after admitting he failed to surrender to prison to begin serving an 18-month prison term, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Peter Margiotta, 64, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was sentenced to one day in prison, consecutive to his 18-month sentence, after he pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with failure to surrender for service of sentence.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided and sentenced Margiotta immediately after his plea hearing. Margiotta was detained.
Under the terms of a plea agreement filed in the case, the government and Margiotta agreed that a sentence of one day of imprisonment was appropriate and that Margiotta would voluntarily dismiss any appeal of his previous convictions or sentence in the case involving Clean Air Act violations.
In court documents filed in the case, the government alleged that on July 10, 2020, Margiotta was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and was permitted to self-surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his sentence.
A jury in September 2019 found Margiotta guilty of all three counts in an indictment charging him with conspiracy, Clean Air Act-general duty and Clean Air Act-knowing endangerment, for his actions related to a 2012 explosion that injured three workers at the company’s oil processing plant in Wibaux.
The government alleged that the court gave Margiotta three extensions of time to self-report to prison, with the third deadline for self-reporting to the Bureau of Prisons’ SeaTac Facility in Seattle, Washington, on or before Jan. 15, 2021. Margiotta failed to self-surrender by Jan. 15. Margiotta turned himself into law enforcement authorities in Sweetgrass on March 25.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan T. Dake and Eric E. Nelson, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the EPA and DOT.
Ohio EPA to Update Outdated Modes of Communication
Ohio EPA has released interested party drafts of various rules in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). In a joint rulemaking effort, the Lieutenant Governor's office and Ohio EPA have identified instances where outdated modes of communication, such as paper mail, facsimile, or newspaper, are required. Also identified were rules that contained the requirement for regulated entities to submit multiple copies of a document. To reduce adverse impacts to regulated entities and to provide modern options, Ohio EPA is releasing drafts containing only amendments to those instances. The rules in this package affect a variety of industries and the subject matter is covered by different divisions within Ohio EPA. The rules and the corresponding division are listed below.
Ohio EPA has requested comments on the proposed rules. You may view the drafts rules, interested party fact sheet, and Business Impact Analysis (BIA) on each division's rules page provided in the table below.
3745-103-18, 103-29, 103-61, 112-04, 20-03, 78-01
3745-27-37, 27-50, 27-53, 28-07, 501-10
3745-50-33, 50-35, 352-40
3745-7-12, 34-40, 91-12, 91-02, 89-08, 81-66
Albertsons Grocery Chain to Pay $5.1 Million for Volations of the Refrigerant Management Program
The California Air Resources Board reached a settlement agreement with The Albertsons Companies, Inc. for $5.1 million for violations of the Refrigerant Management Program (RMP) that regulates large, stationary industrial refrigerant systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
During regular inspections under the RMP, CARB investigators found that Albertsons failed to comply with the program’s requirements across Albertsons stores in California between 2016-2018. Violations included failure to annually audit and calibrate automatic leak detection equipment; failure to ensure that all detected refrigerant leaks were repaired within 14 days of detection by a certified technician; failure to accurately register and report their stores' refrigeration systems; and failure to maintain required records for at least five years.
“California committed to an accelerated reduction of greenhouse gases to meet state targets, and the Refrigerant Management Program has been a highly successful tool for achieving our climate goals. I’d like to congratulate our investigation and settlement teams for their effort and diligence in identifying and processing this case,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey.
Albertsons’ settlement includes a $2.55 million civil penalty and $2.55 million in funding for two Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP). The penalties will be equally split between a SEP to install air filtration systems in schools through the South Coast Air Quality Management District and another for a Placer County community-based project through Placer County Air Quality Management District.
Albertsons is the largest retail grocery chain in California. The company was fully cooperative throughout the investigation; made good faith efforts to come into compliance and reach a settlement with CARB; and, signed a compliance plan to ensure ongoing compliance with the RMP regulation.
The Refrigerant Management Program was adopted in 2009 as a measure under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary refrigeration systems. Most refrigeration systems in retail food use high-global refrigerants that have a high global warming potential (high-GWP), trapping heat in the atmosphere much more effectively than carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas.
Sprite Industries, Inc. to Pay $27,000 for Non-Compliant Showerheads
Based on an industry complaint, a California Energy Commission's (CEC) investigation meet the efficiency standard, failed the marking requirement, and were not certified to the Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System (MAEDbS).
Sprite Industries, Inc. (Sprite) is a Corona, California, based company that manufactures plumbing fittings. Sprite sold or offered for sale showerheads in California, from January 2016 to September 2020.
To settle this matter, Sprite executed a Settlement Agreement with CEC on July 1, 2021, for $27,000.00. The penalty monies are deposited into the Appliance Efficiency Enforcement Subaccount established by SB 454 of 2011 (Pavley). Sprite has also agreed to a compliance plan to redesign the non-compliant models to meet the efficiency standard, add the appropriate marking, and test and certify all models to MAEDbS before continuing to sell in California.
DOE Proposes Reversal of Trump-Era Showerhead Rule
The Department of Energy (DOE) moved to protect consumers from shower products that waste energy and water and increase their utility bills. DOE announced a proposed rule to eliminate a Trump-era change to the definition for showerheads. The illegal rule, issued by the outgoing administration in December 2020, allowed for the sale of new multi-showerhead arrays for which the efficiency standard in place since 1994 would apply only to each individual head, rather than the array as a whole. This manipulation of the definition of “showerhead” allowed for wasteful products flowing at double, triple, or even quadruple the efficiency standard to be marketed and sold across the U.S.
“This is a commonsense reversal of one of the looniest regulations of the Trump era. It is great news for consumers and our climate,’ said Ed Osann, director for NRDC’s water efficiency project. “Restoring the pre-2021 definition for showerheads will maintain the efficiency standard in place since 1994 that allowed for a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, which cuts utility bills and climate-warming pollution while providing a satisfying shower. The multi-head products allowed under the Trump rule could flow two to four times that level, exhausting a home water heater’s supply of hot water and adding unnecessary expense to household water, sewer, and energy costs.”
North Carolina to Develop Rule to Limit Carbon Pollution from Power Plants
The groups behind a rulemaking petition
to reduce heat-trapping carbon pollution from power plants in North Carolina welcomed its approval by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission, given the urgency of cutting carbon when the effects of climate change are already harming North Carolina communities. The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the petition, along with a proposed rule, on behalf of Clean Air Carolina and the North Carolina Coastal Federation. With the decision to grant the petition, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality will launch a rulemaking process including opportunities for the public to comment on the proposed rule.
“Today’s decision by the EMC is a common-sense step to reduce harmful carbon pollution from power plants in what a study by UNC and Duke University shows is a cost-effective approach,” said Gudrun Thompson, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is representing the petitioners in the legal proceedings. “Given the threat of climate change to our state, North Carolina needs to do its part to cut heat-trapping carbon pollution from power plants. Today’s action by the EMC will help move our state towards a clean energy future by pushing polluting coal generation off the power grid.”
North Carolinians are already feeling the impacts of climate change from slower storms that drop more rain and cause flooding, and warmer and more humid days and nights. Scientists warn of more dire consequences for North Carolina’s economy, environment and people—including to people’s health--without rapid, steep reductions in heat-trapping carbon pollution.
“It’s very early in hurricane season, and two tropical storms have already blown through our coast,” said Todd Miller, executive director of the North Carolina Coastal Federation. “While we keep a watchful eye on the tropics, it’s encouraging that state leaders want to find ways to reduce carbon pollution so that our oceans won’t get so warm and spawn as many intense storms.”
The Cooper administration set a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 70% by 2030, reaching net zero emissions by 2050. The proposed rule filed with the commission would help to achieve those targets in a cost-effective way by setting a declining limit on heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and setting North Carolina up to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative effort among states from Maine to Virginia to cap and reduce power sector carbon pollution.
“This rulemaking is an opportunity for our state to lead the Southeast in carbon reduction which will result in cleaner air and better health", said June Blotnick, executive director of Clean Air Carolina. “For the past few years, North Carolina has lost ground as a clean energy leader. RGGI is an opportunity to put the right market mechanisms in place to properly value clean energy generation without arbitrary mandates.”
In RGGI’s first decade alone, participating states saw steep declines in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants: from 2008 to 2018, emissions fell by 47%, which was 90% more than in the rest of the country. Over the same period, the RGGI states also saw reduced air pollution and fewer premature deaths, heart attacks and respiratory illnesses; a 5.7% decline in electricity prices, compared to an increase in the rest of the country; and economic growth that outpaced the rest of the country by 31%.
Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Company and its Owners Plead Guilty to Violating Environmental and Worker Safety Laws Related to Workers’ 2015 Deaths
Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services LLC (NRCS), its president and owner, Steven Michael Braithwaite, and its vice president and co-owner, Adam Thomas Braithwaite, pleaded guilty in federal court in Omaha to charges stemming from an investigation into a 2015 fatal railcar explosion that killed two workers. The charges include conspiracy, violating worker safety standards resulting in worker deaths, violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and submitting false documents to OSHA.
“The Department of Justice is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of American workers and to protecting our environment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The defendants in this case put their employees at risk and falsified documents to evade worker safety requirements. Tragically, two of their employees died while working with hazardous waste under unsafe conditions. Guided by its managers, NRCS failed to appropriately dispose of hazardous wastes removed during the cleaning process — wastes that are ignitable and can cause human cancer and other health effects. Today’s guilty pleas show that the Department of Justice will prosecute those who thwart federal laws created to protect American workers and the environment.”
“Worker safety standards and environmental regulations are not just meaningless rules made up by faceless bureaucrats,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jan Sharp of the District of Nebraska. “They address real-world safety issues, and failure to abide by them can cost lives. Today’s guilty pleas emphasize the grave consequences of cutting corners, not only for the workers who are meant to be protected, but also for the employers who fail to live up to their responsibilities.”
“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations that companies must follow to ensure worker safety,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Steven Grell of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Dallas Region. “Steven and Adam Braithwaite disregarded OSHA regulations and provided false documentation to OSHA to make it appear as if all safety requirements were being followed, when in fact, they were not. Their lack of adherence to OSHA regulations and indifference to their employees’ safety resulted in tragic consequences which impacted several families. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and OSHA to hold accountable those who jeopardize workers ’ safety and obstruct DOL agencies in carrying out their important missions.”
“The defendants in this case ignored health and safety protocols and knowingly put their employees and the public at risk by disregarding federal regulations,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s guilty pleas send a clear message that individuals who intentionally violate these laws will be held accountable.”
NRCS was in the business of cleaning railcars, including rail tanker cars. Tanker car cleaning often involved NRCS sending workers inside the cars’ tanks to scrape and remove various commodities, including gasoline, ethanol, petroleum by-products, pesticides, herbicides and food-grade products.
According to court documents, NRCS failed to implement worker safety standards and then tried to cover that up during an inspection by OSHA. In addition, the company mishandled hazardous wastes removed from rail tanker cars during the cleaning process. On April 14, 2015, two NRCS workers who were sent into a tanker car containing severely flammable residue were killed and another injured when the contents of the railcar they were cleaning ignited and exploded.
On various occasions prior to the explosion, OSHA officials conducted regulatory inspections during which they notified the principals of NRCS that NRCS was in violation of OSHA safety regulations concerning confined space entries. Rail tanker cars are “confined spaces” under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. After an inspection of NRCS, Steven Braithwaite entered into a written agreement on Feb. 5, 2015, where he represented that NRCS had been testing for benzene since July 2014. After OSHA returned to NRCS in March 2015 to conduct a follow-up inspection and was turned away by Steven Braithwaite, Adam Braithwaite submitted falsified documents to OSHA purporting to show that NRCS had been purchasing equipment to test the contents of railcars for benzene and had taken other required safety precautions. Adam Braithwaite also falsely testified under oath in an OSHA hearing that NRCS had been purchasing the benzene testing equipment.
Meanwhile, NRCS had been engaged to clean the railcar that ultimately exploded. On or about Jan. 27, 2015, NRCS received an inquiry from one of its customers about receiving and cleaning product residue from a rail tanker car. The inquiry included a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the product in the railcar, describing it as “natural gasoline,” also known as “petrol, casing head gasoline, CS ’s.” The SDS also stated that the flammability rating was “severe” at class “4” (the highest rating), that the natural gasoline would ignite at zero degrees Fahrenheit, and that it contained benzene, a “cancer hazard.” NRCS responded that it could handle the material in the railcar.
The tanker car was not tested for benzene levels. Nonetheless, NRCS sent two of its employees into the tanker car. Continuous monitoring for explosive levels of gases was not conducted. The two employees sent into tanker car began removing the remaining contents, which were hazardous for toxicity (benzene) and ignitability. On April 14, 2015, approximately one hour after the two employees were sent into the tanker car, its contents ignited and exploded, killing those two employees and injuring a third.
Stephen Michael Braithwaite was the President and majority owner of NRCS and was responsible for all phases of the business, including both environmental and worker safety issues. He pleaded guilty to two counts of violating worker safety standards that resulted in the workers’ deaths, and knowingly endangering others by violating RCRA. Adam Thomas Braithwaite was the Vice President and a minority owner of NRCS and also handled both environmental and worker safety issues, among others. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of violating worker safety standards that resulted in the workers’ deaths, to two counts of falsification of records in a federal investigation, and to committing perjury. NRCS pleaded guilty to all 21 of the counts it was charged with in the indictment.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct.25. Steven Braithwaite faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $750,000 or twice the gain or profit caused by the offense. Adam Braithwaite faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $1,250,000 or twice the gain or profit caused by the offense and NRCS faces a maximum penalty of five years’ probation and a fine of the greater of $9,500,000 or twice the gain or profit caused by the offense. A federal district court judge will determine the sentences after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case was investigated by U.S. EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General. Senior Counsel Krishna S. Dighe of the Department of Justice, Environmental Crimes Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald J. Kleine of the District of Nebraska are prosecuting the case.
Hawaii and North Carolina to Adopt Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare
HIOSH will adopt the Federal OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Healthcare regarding COVID-19. The standard will be adopted with only minor changes to dates referenced in 29 CFR §1910.502(s) and with a 6 month limitation of (July 25, 2021 to January 25, 2022) as required under the 396-4 Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS).
Chemtool Sued by State AG After Chemical Factory Fire
Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley filed a lawsuit against Chemtool Inc. (Chemtool) over a massive June 14 fire at its facility in Rockton, Illinois. The six-alarm fire burned for several days, caused explosions and prompted evacuations. Raoul and Hanley allege that the fire and efforts to control the fire resulted in smoke, particulate matter and unknown quantities of other contaminants being released into the environment.
Raoul and Hanley’s lawsuit was filed in Winnebago County Circuit Court and alleges that Chemtool’s actions pose a substantial danger to the public’s health and welfare and the environment. The lawsuit also includes allegations of air and water pollution, creating a water pollution hazard, and unauthorized waste disposal. Raoul and Hanley allege that Chemtool is liable for damages and for the costs the state and Winnebago County have incurred in responding to the incident.
Chemtool’s Rockton plant manufactures grease, lubricating oil and fluids, and more than 4 million gallons of crude oil were stored at the facility. Currently, the facility still houses four storage tanks holding approximately 100,000 gallons of petroleum product. The facility is located near residences and the Rock River. Raoul and Hanley allege that the large volume of petroleum product stored in containers that have been compromised by the fire pose a significant threat to land and the Rock River.
“The Chemtool fire rattled the community, displaced residents, and took the combined resources and efforts of several fire departments to get under control. Although the flames have been extinguished, the hazard posed to the public and the environment continues, and Chemtool owes the community more information,” Raoul said. “My office, in collaboration with the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office will ensure that Chemtool is held responsible for evaluating the extent of the contamination and thoroughly remediating the damage.”
“I am grateful for the thorough and swift investigation by the Illinois EPA and Attorney General Kwame Raoul,” Hanley said. “I look forward to working with the Attorney General to protect Winnebago County’s environment and the health of its citizens.”
Raoul’s lawsuit is based on referrals from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
“The catastrophic fire at the Chemtool facility resulted in significant impacts on local residents and the surrounding community,” said Illinois EPA Director John Kim. “The action taken today by the Attorney General’s office is an important step to ensure that the company is held responsible for the effects of the fire, which include conducting a thorough investigation and proper remediation.”
“The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is dedicated to helping the residents of our state prepare for and respond to all natural, manmade or technological disasters, hazards or acts of terrorism,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “Responding to an incident of this nature puts our first responders at great risk and assumes a financial cost. This lawsuit seeks to reimburse the state for costs incurred from this disaster.”
On the morning of June 14, a fire broke out and engulfed Chemtool’s Rockton facility, causing several explosions and thick black smoke that could be observed many miles away from the facility. Health and safety concerns prompted evacuations of businesses and residents within a 1-mile radius of the facility, and residents within three miles of the facility were told to wear masks when outside. Several fire departments in Illinois and Wisconsin responded to the fire, which burned for several days before the evacuation order was lifted on June 18.
According to Raoul and Hanley’s lawsuit, the fire released ash, debris and other contaminants into the air, which landed on buildings, in residents’ yards, and throughout the area. In addition, Raoul and Hanley allege that firefighting foam used to suppress the fire was found in the Rock River after a pump failure. Raoul and Hanley allege that the debris, ash and runoff from the fire and firefighting efforts are waste that was not properly disposed of, which poses environmental hazards.
Raoul and Hanley’s lawsuit seeks to require Chemtool to assess the extent of the contamination, and take immediate corrective actions to address the release of pollutants to air, water and land. The lawsuit also seeks to compel Chemtool to take preventative actions to avoid the future release of pollutants, and pay civil penalties.
Assistant Attorneys General Kevin Garstka and Ellen O’Laughlin are handling the case for Raoul’s Environmental Bureau. Civil Bureau Chief Lafakeria Vaughn is handling the case for the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office.
Study Shows That Electronic Air Cleaning Technology Can Generate Unintended Pollutants
As the Covid-19 pandemic raged, news reports show that sales of electronic air cleaners have surged due to concerns about airborne disease transmission. But a research team at the Georgia Institute of Technology has found that the benefits to indoor air quality of one type of purifying system can be offset by the generation of other pollutants that are harmful to health.
Led by Associate Professor Nga Lee "Sally" Ng in Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, the team evaluated the effect of a hydroxyl radical generator in an office setting. Hydroxyl radicals react with odors and pollutants, decomposing them, and hydroxyl radical generators have been marketed to inactivate pathogens such as coronaviruses.
However, Ng's study found that in the process of cleaning the air, the hydroxyl radicals generated by the device reacted with volatile organic compounds present in the indoor space. This led to chemical reactions that quickly formed organic acids and secondary organic aerosols that can cause health problems. Secondary organic aerosols is a major component of PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 ?m), and exposure to PM2.5 has been associated with cardiopulmonary diseases and millions of deaths per year.
While the pandemic has made various types of electronic cleaners increasingly popular, Ng explained that consumers are probably not aware of the secondary chemistry taking place in the air, with the pollutants generated not being directly emitted by the cleaning device itself.
"There are increasing concerns regarding the use of electronic air cleaners as these devices can potentially generate unintended byproducts via oxidation chemistry similar to that in the atmosphere," Ng said.
Two types of air cleaning technologies are commonly used to remove indoor pollutants such as particles or volatile organic compounds and to inactivate pathogens: mechanical filtration and electronic air cleaners that generate ions, reactive species, or other chemical products such as photocatalytic oxidation, plasma, and oxidant-generating equipment (e.g., ozone, hydroxyl radical), among others.
Ng's team selected a hydroxyl generator for the study. They measured the oxygenated volatile organic compounds and the chemical composition of particles generated by the device in an office on the Georgia Tech campus.
While previous research reported pollutant formation from various electronic air cleaners (ionizers, plasma systems, photocatalytic systems with ultraviolet lamps, etc.), Ng believes that her team's study is the first to monitor the chemical composition of secondary pollutants in both gas and particle phases during the operation of an electronic device that dissipates oxidants in a real-world setting.
Advanced instrumentation made Ng's study possible. Gas-phase organic compounds were measured using a high-resolution time-of-flight chemical ionization mass spectrometer, purchased through a National Science Foundation major instrumentation grant. The study received support from Georgia Tech's Covid-19 Rapid Response fund.
Ng noted that future studies on air cleaning technology should not be limited to inactivation of viruses or reduction of volatile organic compounds, but should also evaluate potential oxidation chemistry and the formation of unintended harmful gaseous and particulate chemicals.
"More studies need to be conducted on the effects of these devices in a variety of environments," Ng said.
"Electronic air cleaners greatly rose in prominence because of the pandemic, and now there are a lot of these devices out there. Millions of dollars are being spent on these devices by businesses and schools. The market is huge.
"Our results show that care must be taken when choosing an adequate and appropriate air cleaning technology for a particular environment and task," she said.
Ng stressed the importance of future studies concerning the unintended effects of electronic purifiers, as these devices are not currently well regulated and do not have testing standards.
"There needs to be more peer-reviewed scientific data on electronic air cleaners," Ng said. "We hope that additional studies will lead to more government guidelines and regulation."
Live Training Is Back
If you prefer live face to face training, we have good news for you. Environmental Resource Center is resuming its schedule of live nationwide training. We’ll be following the current CDC recommendations for a safe environment and working hard to ensure that you remain safe throughout the sessions. Here’s a list of classes that you can choose from:
Delaware Companies Settle PFAS Charges
The State of Delaware and E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, The Chemours Company, DuPont de Nemours, Inc. and Corteva, Inc, (the “Companies”), businesses with a long history of operations within the State, announced a settlement agreement
designed to benefit Delaware’s natural resources and the people of the State of Delaware now, and well into the future.
Under the settlement agreement, the Companies will agree to pay $50 million for environmental restoration, improvement, sampling and analysis, community environmental justice and equity grants, and other natural resource needs. The Companies will fund up to an additional $25 million if they settle similar claims with other states for more than $50 million. The settlement resolves the Companies’ responsibility for damages caused by releases of historical compounds within or impacting the State, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (generically referred to as PFAS), subject to certain limitations and preservations. Consistent with the cost-sharing arrangement entered into by the Companies in January of this year, of the $50 million, DuPont and Corteva will each contribute $12.5 million and Chemours will contribute $25 million.
“We all need to work collaboratively, fervently, and quickly to restore our natural resources and support our most vulnerable communities,” said AG Jennings. “Today’s agreement moves us miles ahead in that work. This is the most significant environmental settlement that the State of Delaware has ever secured, and it is being delivered on a timeline that matches the urgency of this moment. The real work still lies ahead, but I am grateful that everyone came to the table to chart a constructive path forward for Delaware, and I commit that our office will keep working to ensure justice – including environmental justice – for everyone in this state.”
“These companies have a long, proud history in our state. This agreement is a natural extension of that legacy and signifies a commitment to continue investing in the quality of life of our citizens and the health of our environment,” said Governor Carney.
Mark Newman, CEO of Chemours, said “We are privileged to live and work in this great state, and our actions today were very much motivated by our commitment to make a meaningful difference in the community we call home and our historical relationship with the state of Delaware. Rather than engaging in protracted and costly litigation, the State and our companies have set aside our differences and come together to put Delaware and its residents first.”
“This settlement could not have been achieved without the goodwill and assistance of all parties.” said Ed Breen, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DuPont. “That goodwill is borne out of the Companies’ more than 200-year relationship to the State, its people, and its economy.”
“Corteva could not have become who we are today without the people of Delaware, who are our neighbors and employees. That creates a special connection with the State and its people,” said Jim Collins, CEO of Corteva.
The settlement is the result of an extensive investigation into the environmental impacts of legacy industrial activities in Delaware led by the Attorney General’s Office. That investigation remains ongoing and is expected to result in additional recoveries from other parties or enforcement actions. This settlement does not release or affect the liability of any other parties that may have caused damage to Delaware’s natural resources, including PFAS contamination.
Waste Hauler Sentenced to Four Years in Prison
A waste hauler who created significant environmental hazards on his properties by illegally dumping acres of trash has been sentenced to four years in prison, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced.
Donald W. Combs, 53, of Milford, was sentenced in Clermont County Common Pleas Court after pleading guilty in April to eight felonies: three counts of illegal open dumping of solid waste, two counts of illegal operation of a solid waste facility without a license, two counts of violating Ohio EPA environmental protection orders and one count of illegal open burning of solid wastes.
“Your home might be your castle, but your yard is not your landfill,” Yost said.
The offenses occurred at an unlicensed landfill adjacent to Combs’ home in a residential neighborhood at 1779 Parker Road in Milford and at the unlicensed commercial site of his waste hauling business at 1503 State Route 28 in Goshen Township. Combs also illegally dumped solid waste on another property owner’s land adjacent to the State Route 28 site.
For several years, Combs solicited waste hauling business mostly on Craigslist and Facebook, undercutting competitors who factored in the costs of properly dumping solid waste in a licensed landfill. He illegally dumped thousands of pounds of waste from large roll-off boxes he hauled away for customers cleaning out homes and businesses in the tri-state area.
Some of the piles of waste, which were comingled with construction and demolition debris, were more than 20 feet high at both unlicensed sites. Cleanup costs are estimated at nearly $1.3 million.
The criminal investigation was conducted by the Environmental Enforcement Unit at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, a division of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and the criminal environmental cases were handled by prosecutors from Yost’s Environmental Enforcement Section. The Ohio EPA’s Special Investigations Unit also assisted in the case.
Ice Company Criminally Fined, Required to Remedy Clean Air Act Violations
J.P. Lillis Enterprises, Inc., D/B/A Cape Cod Ice, a cold storage warehouse and ice manufacturing facility that stores over 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at its facility on the banks of the Seekonk River, in Rhode Island was fined $90,000 and placed on federal probation for three years by a federal court judge in Providence on March 22, 2021 for repeatedly failing to implement a Risk Management Plan (RMP) to be executed in the event of an accidental release of anhydrous ammonia, an extremely hazardous substance.
The facility, located in an industrial area adjacent to residential area, and in the vicinity of an elementary school, was assessed civil penalties by the Environmental Protection Agency as far back as 2012 for failing to develop and submit an RMP, and since has repeatedly been found to contain equipment in need of repair to avoid a potential release of anhydrous ammonia.
Subsequent inspections by EPA, OSHA, and the East Providence Fire Department found the existence of corrosion on ammonia-carrying pipes and on the facility’s high- pressure ammonia receiver; the failure of corrosion-preventing insulation on the pipes; and inadequate inspection, testing, and maintenance of the ammonia piping and receiver within 90 days, engage a qualified independent ammonia refrigeration consultant to conduct an audit that (1) evaluates Cape Cod Ice’s compliance with the Clean Air Act and address deficiencies identified by the EPA, OSHA, and East Providence Fire Department and (2) includes a required maintenance inspection program.
Acting United States Attorney Myrus said, “The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to working with EPA to ensure that companies doing business in Rhode Island fully comply with the Clean Air Act. Exposure to anhydrous ammonia can cause serious health issues. The resolution will help to mitigate the risk of accidental release of ammonia by ensuring that Cape Cod Ice conducts a thorough third-party audit of its ammonia refrigeration system and implements an appropriate Risk Management Plan under the Clean Air Act.”
"Protecting Rhode Island communities from hazardous chemical releases is a priority for EPA" said Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. "The sentence emphasizes the im- portance of companies abiding by Risk Management Plans (RMP), put in place to protect workers, emergency responders and the surrounding residents."
Cape Cod Ice is required to submit to the United States Attorney’s Office and to United States Probation with- in 30 days of the completion of the audit an action plan to address the findings of the audit and a timeline of completion of actions to be taken by the company.
Medical Waste Treatment Facility Denied Permit
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced that it has denied the permit application of Medrecycler-RI Inc. to build a medical waste-to-energy plant at 1600 Division Road in West Warwick. DEM cited the following factors in denying the application:
- The proposal did not include adequate details about testing protocols, necessary for public review, as part of the permit review process for a medical waste treatment plant.
- The proposal's contingency and response plans – what happens in the event of an emergency? – are incomplete. Many of the 400+ members of the public who commented during the application's comment period cited concerns about the proposal's lack of strong environmental monitoring and safety plans. DEM shares these concerns.
- Related, DEM found the proposal's lack of clarity about how much and where medical waste would be safely stored to be a critical deficiency in the application. This impacts the proposed operation, monitoring requirements, contingency planning, and closure assurances.
- The facility is proposed in a densely populated area close to residential neighborhoods, making the public review of the contingency plans and testing protocols even more relevant. There is no buffer between the proposed facility and other tenants located at that address and little buffer between the facility and surrounding community.
- Uncertainty over the impacts of the proposed facility's innovative technology. This proposed system has not previously been used on medical waste.
Also influential in DEM's decision was the enactment of a law prohibiting new high-heat medical waste processing facilities from being sited in Rhode Island. Governor Dan McKee signed the bill into law July 9. "The Department believes that regardless of the deficiencies in the application outlined above, this law would prohibit the Department from issuing or granting a permit or license for this proposed facility," DEM wrote in its denial.
Washington to Update Greenhouse Gas Reporting Requirements
- Add natural gas suppliers, carbon dioxide suppliers, and electric power entities to the existing greenhouse gas reporting program.
- Replace the transportation fuel supplier program with a program that is compatible with the Climate Commitment Act.
- Update greenhouse gas reporting requirements to support the Climate Commitment Act and facilitate program linkage with other jurisdictions.
- Add program elements to support the verification of greenhouse gas reporting data.
- Modify administrative provisions, such as deadlines and greenhouse gas reporting fees.
- Include requirements necessary to support the above items, the overall objectives of the statute or chapter, or the goals of the Climate Commitment Act.
- Make administrative changes for correction or clarification.
In 2021, the governor signed the Climate Commitment Act which established a cap-and-invest program to achieve Washington's greenhouse gas limits by 2050. About 75% of greenhouse gas emissions included in the new cap-and-invest program are not reported or are reported using methods that conflict with the Climate Commitment Act. Ecology will create a reporting system that complies with the Climate Commitment Act.
Employers Reminded to Protect Workers From The Dangers Of Heat Illness
As temperatures rise in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, OSHA reminded employers to protect their employees when they work in hot weather.
OSHA’s message is simple: Water. Rest. Shade. To protect their employees, employers should:
- Encourage workers to drink water every 15 minutes.
- Make sure workers take frequent rest breaks in the shade to cool down.
- Develop an emergency plan that explains what to do when a worker shows signs of heat-related illness.
- Train workers on the hazards related to heat exposure.
- Allow workers to build a tolerance for working in heat.
The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool
is a free, downloadable app that calculates a worksite’s heat index and displays the associated risk levels. Users can receive precautionary recommendations specific to heat index risk to help protect employees from heat-related illness. The tool is available in English and Spanish. Additionally, the agency developed a new poster and pamphlet on preventing heat illness at work
. Both are available in English and Spanish.
OSHA’s Occupational Heat Exposure page
explains the symptoms of heat illness, first aid measures to provide while waiting for help, engineering controls and work practices to reduce workers’ exposure to heat, and training.
Milwaukee Metal Fabricating Facility Cited For Failing to Implement Hearing Conservation, Machine Safety Programs
Despite two 2020 inspections that identified dangerous machine and noise hazards, OSHA has found a Milwaukee metal fabricating facility continues to put its workers’ safety and health at risk.
In January 2021, OSHA inspectors returned to Tramont Manufacturing LLC and, following its investigation, cited the company for four repeated, nine serious and three other-than-serious safety violations for again exposing workers to unguarded machines, noise and eye and face hazards. The agency initiated a follow-up inspection after the company failed to provide OSHA with information on how it had abated the earlier hazards.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $216,307. View the citations in this case
“Ignoring hazards identified in earlier OSHA inspections suggests that Tramont Manufacturing is not committed to protecting its workers’ safety and health,” said OSHA Area Director Chris Zortman in Milwaukee. “Amputation and hearing loss are irreversible life-altering injuries. Companies must implement required safety and health measures to prevent employee exposure to these hazards.”
Tramont Manufacturing LLC manufactures tanks, sub-base tanks, enclosures and other products for industrial engine-generators. In 2014, Tramont Manufacturing became part of UCA Group in Elgin, Illinois, which has extensive manufacturing and engineering operations in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Colorado Court Sentences Avon Construction Company Owner To Jail, Orders Restitution For Family of Worker Killed In Granby Trench Collapse
A Colorado state court has sentenced the owner of an Avon construction company to jail and ordered restitution for the family of a 50-year-old company worker who suffered fatal injuries in a preventable trench collapse at a Granby work site in June 2018.
The Grand County Court of the State of Colorado sentenced Bryan Johnson, owner of ContractOne Inc., to 10 months in jail for two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of third degree assault related to the death of Rosario Martinez on June 14, 2018. Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges on June 16, 2021.
In its sentencing, the court also ordered Johnson:
- Serve three years’ probation.
- Pay Martinez’s family restitution not to exceed $25,000.
- Make charitable contributions to local charities.
- Participate in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workers Memorial Day ceremony.
- Complete safety training.
- Not commit any willful or serious future OSHA violations.
- Allow OSHA to inspect his worksites without an administrative warrant.
An OSHA investigation determined that Johnson had hired Martinez to install drywall and do carpentry work but failed to train him or his other workers to identify or avoid hazards related to trenching and excavation. At the time of the collapse, Martinez was installing a water service line at a Granby, Colorado residential construction site. The trench collapsed the day before but Johnson ignored obvious signs to change his procedures. Martinez’s son was on site, and assisted first responders in digging his father out of the trench. Martinez later succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital.
OSHA investigators found ContractOne Inc. willfully failed to use a trench protective system as required. The company also failed to conduct regular site inspections to correct potentially hazardous conditions; did not place excavated soil piles a safe distance from trench edges; failed to provide ladders for egress; and did not use appropriate utility location procedures during trenching operations.
“The evidence collected during OSHA’s investigation, and later relied upon by the District Attorney’s Office to pursue criminal charges, reflects particularly egregious behavior,” said Occupational Safety and Health Administration Acting Regional Administrator Nancy Hauter, in Denver. “Trenching is one of the most dangerous activities in the construction industry and Bryan Johnson failed to take any affirmative steps to protect employees, despite repeated warnings that work activities at the jobsite were hazardous.”
“Safety and health is paramount and takes precedence over production or profits,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor John Rainwater, in Denver. “The department believes the facts of this case warrant the sentence and we support the District Attorney’s efforts to hold Johnson accountable for failing to protect workers under his care and supervision. Incarceration sends a strong message. We believe that prosecuting criminal cases has the ability to change the industry.”
In the past decade, the department’s Solicitor’s Office has increased the number of criminal referrals to the U.S. Department of Justice and forged more partnerships with state and local prosecutors to prosecute employers under state criminal statutes. Criminal enforcement is an effective enforcement tool. The timely prosecution of an individual within the community in which they work, and where the victim often resided, has a strong deterrent effect in the industry and sends a signal to the regulated community that certain behavior, such as that which results in significant harm to workers, will not be tolerated.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual training is required by 40 CFR 262.17(a)(7). Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course
is available via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course
, call 800-537-2372 to find out how you can get your course materials on an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
Job Openings at Environmental Resource Center
Environmental Resource Center has openings for EHS consultants and trainers. If you are looking for a new challenge, send your resume and salary requirements to Brian Karnofsky at email@example.com
Work Injuries Tied to Heat Are Vastly Undercounted, Study Finds
Trivia Question of the Week