November 04, 2019
EPA has proposed changes
to its test procedures required to be used by industries and municipalities when analyzing the chemical, physical, and biological properties of wastewater and other environmental samples for reporting under the EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program.
The Clean Water Act requires the EPA to promulgate these test procedures (analytical methods) for analysis of pollutants. The EPA anticipates that these proposed changes will provide increased flexibility for the regulated community in meeting monitoring requirements while improving data quality. In addition, this proposed update to the CWA methods would incorporate technological advances in analytical technology. As such, the EPA expects that there will be no negative economic impacts resulting from these proposed changes.
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Will Lithium-Air Batteries Ever Take Flight?
Amid growing climate concerns, many governments and scientists worldwide are trying to reduce air travel’s environmental impact. Electric planes are a possible solution, but better batteries are needed to power large aircraft for long distances. Lithium-air batteries, one of the most promising technologies, face challenges in taking flight from the lab bench to the friendly skies, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News
(C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.
Small, short-distance electric aircraft can be powered by lithium-ion batteries, the rechargeable technology that powers cell phones, laptops and electric cars (and was recently recognized with a Nobel Prize). However, the best lithium-ion batteries have a specific energy of about 250 W h/kg –– much less than the 800 W h/kg needed for a Boeing 737 to fly from Chicago to New York City, contributing editor Tien Nguyen writes. Lithium-air batteries theoretically offer a maximum specific energy of 3,460 W h/kg, and the oxygen required for the batteries’ operation could be supplied by a plane’s onboard air storage and filtration systems, experts say. But first, scientists need to overcome a spate of obstacles that limit the technology’s practicality.
Compared with lithium-ion technology, lithium-air batteries have a more complex chemistry that uses oxygen to oxidize a lithium-metal anode. As a result, the electrolyte solution, which conveys lithium ions from anode to cathode, decomposes quickly, limiting the batteries’ rechargeability. Scientists are searching for more stable electrolytes, but so far the best alternative allows only about 90 charging cycles (far short of the thousands of charging cycles possible for lithium-ion batteries). Another challenge is whether the batteries could run on air rather than pure oxygen, which is piped in for lab-scale batteries. Carbon dioxide or water in air could interfere with the chemistry. However, recent studies suggest that water might not be as problematic for the batteries as once thought, and scientists say that carbon-capture technology could be used to remove carbon dioxide from air.
Bipartisan Bill Would Curb Climate-Harming HFCs
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are industrial chemicals used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and other applications. Pound-for-pound, they have hundreds to thousands of times the heat-trapping impact of carbon dioxide. Available alternatives have a fraction of that impact, and new products using them can also significantly increase energy efficiency.
A bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act
, backed by industry and environmentalists, that would phase down the production of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, nationwide.
The AIM Act will:
- Gradually phase down the production and consumption of HFCs through an allowance allocation and trading program.
- Authorize the EPA to establish standards for the management of HFCs used as refrigerants and for the recovery of used HFCs.
- Authorize the EPA to facilitate transitions to next-generation technologies by establishing sector-based use restrictions.
The bill would allow EPA to accelerate the phase down schedule based on science and the availability of climate-friendlier alternatives; to replace HFCs in specific uses; and to set HFC leak prevention and disposal regulations. The bill is modeled on successful Clean Air Act provisions for phasing out CFCs and other ozone-destroying chemicals.
Map Released Displaying Non-Compliant Liquid Waste System Operators in the Permian Basin
More than 140 RV sites in Eddy County are not compliant with state liquid waste regulations, according to data in an interactive map released by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED).
As the oil and gas industry continues to grow in southeast New Mexico, many workers live in formal or makeshift RV parks known as “man camps.” When operators of such parks do not properly install or operate liquid waste systems, sewage leaks can and do occur, endangering public health and the environment.
NMED issued notices of violation to many of these systems in 2018, some of which remain in long-term noncompliance. Once a system receives a notice of violation, they must contact NMED within 5 to 10 days to develop a compliance plan. An estimated 20 percent of these operators have worked with the department to come into compliance.
“Compliance with state laws that protect public health and the environment from raw sewage is not optional,” said Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “In providing this map to the public, we hope to increase public health awareness and to encourage liquid waste system operators to come into compliance prior to our Department taking legal action.”
The map also includes notices of violation issued and photos of the violations associated with each site. “This interactive map is a great tool for us both to use in tackling the challenge of liquid waste management in Eddy County,” said Steve McCroskey, Eddy County Assistant Director of Community Services. “One of Eddy County’s biggest challenges has been to identify and keep pace as new RV parks continually pop up. Having the available resources to check for compliance and then enforce non- compliance is something the County and NMED both have struggled with in the past.”
In addition to the sites identified on the map, NMED identified multiple cases of the illegal disposal of raw sewage in rural areas of Eddy County. All liquid waste systems are required to be permitted and inspected by NMED.
Liquid waste system operators may request technical and compliance assistance from NMED by calling the Department’s Carlsbad Field Office at 575-885-9023. Members of the public who wish to report illegal dumping or non-compliant liquid waste systems may contact NMED staff at 575-370-3200 or 505- 476-9125 or report it on the Eddy County Code Enforcement page.
Advanced Chemical Treatment Cited for Hazardous Waste Violations
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and Advanced Chemical Treatment, Inc. reached a settlement to resolve alleged violations identified during a May 2019 inspection by NMED’s Hazardous Waste Bureau at a facility in Albuquerque.
The Advanced Chemical Treatment, Inc., facility, located at 6137 Edith Boulevard NE., stores hazardous wastes until proper disposal at a permitted facility outside of New Mexico is arranged.
The settlement includes a civil penalty of $360,285 for various violations of the state’s Hazardous Waste Act, Hazardous Waste Management Regulations and the facility’s hazardous waste permit.
“The New Mexico Environment Department requires facilities to maintain continuous compliance with federal and state regulations – especially when managing hazardous wastes.” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “We will not hesitate to robustly enforce laws for the protection of public health and the environment.”
NMED cited Advanced Chemical Treatment for violations that include the improper storage of used oil, failure to respond to a release of used oil into the environment and the storage of hazardous waste for longer than allowed in the permit.
Advanced Chemical Treatment, Inc., has since corrected the alleged violations. The civil penalty is paid to the state’s Hazardous Waste Emergency Fund, which is primarily used for the clean-up of incidents involving hazardous substances and the disposal of hazardous substances.
Groups Announce Investigation into Pellet Pollution
Environmental groups have sent a notice of intent to sue Frontier Logistics for ongoing plastic pollution from its packaging facility at Union Pier Terminal. The 60-day notice submitted by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League and the Charleston Waterkeeper is a legal requirement before the filing of a Clean Water Act enforcement case.
The notice makes clear the July spill of plastic pellets into the Cooper River that littered shorelines for miles was not a one-time occurrence. Rather, the pollution appears to be ongoing.
“We have evidence that leads us to believe Frontier’s plastic pellets continue to spill into our harbor,” said Andrew Wunderley, the Charleston Waterkeeper. “We find pellets everywhere we look, from Capers Island to Waterfront Park downtown. And, at the sites we sample week after week, we continue to find consistently high numbers of pellets. Frontier must be held accountable for polluting our harbor, beaches, and waterways with its plastic pellets, especially when we have no state or local safeguards protecting our waterways from plastic pellet pollution.”
Despite identifying Frontier as the source of the July spill, DHEC has not taken any enforcement action against Frontier Logistics. Photographs of the facility obtained under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act show pellet accumulations on the pier, in storm drains, around broken metal covers over the river, and in other locations where they are easily blown or washed into the water. The pellets, which are about the size of fish eggs, are a danger to aquatic life.
“Coastal communities and environmental organizations have worked tirelessly for the past several years to address the problem of plastic polluting our waterways,” said Laura Cantral, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League. “To date, 18 municipalities and counties across our state have adopted strong, local policy solutions to reduce the amount of plastic that enters our waters and threatens the health of our marine and river ecosystems. We have the momentum. We must keep moving forward and not allow the insidious backsliding that will happen if we close our eyes to the threat caused by these plastic pellets.”
Among the FOIA documents gathered for this case, a DHEC report noted: “Plastic accumulation observed throughout the facility. Most of the facility is over water. Numerous openings throughout the facility were observed directly over water.”
The pellets – sometimes called “nurdles” – are sent to factories where they are melted and reshaped into common plastic products.
Frontier Logistics is the only Charleston area company packaging pellets on the water. It was the only company cited by DHEC as the polluter responsible for the July spill. And as documented in the notice letter, the largest densities of pellets have been found at sites closest to Frontier Logistics. Preliminary testing also confirms that the pellets recovered match the type of plastic handled by Frontier.
FOIA documents show that, since July, Frontier Logistics has taken some voluntary measures in an attempt to contain spilled pellets. A pellet source control expert, Dr. Aiza Jose, has reviewed existing documentation and has determined that the controls implemented by Frontier Logistics thus far appear insufficient to prevent ongoing spills. Dr. Jose has also identified numerous opportunities for the release of pellets from this open-air facility on the harbor.
A report from Dr. Jose was included as part of the 60-day notice to Frontier Logistics.
“We are proud to work with the Charleston Waterkeeper and the Coastal Conservation League to take this action to enforce our environmental laws when the state has not,” said SELC Senior Attorney Catherine Wannamaker.
Earlier this year in a similar case, a federal judge in Texas found a pellet manufacturer liable for polluting nearby waters with these same plastic pellets.
Holman Building Owners and Operators Agree to Pay $475,000 to Settle Asbestos-Related Violations
Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine M. Pacioni announced that her Environmental Protection Unit has reached a settlement with the owners and operators of the Holman Building in Pacific Grove for violations of asbestos-related laws and regulations that occurred during an ongoing condominium conversion project. The Holman Building, located at 542 Lighthouse Avenue, is owned by Monterey Capital PG Founders, LLC and is being renovated by David Gash and his company, Gold Coast Design, Inc (referred to collectively as “Defendants”). The stipulated judgment agreed to by Defendants resolves allegations that Defendants failed to properly test for and safely abate asbestos-containing materials while performing renovation and demolition work at the building.
This case arose out of a series of inspections by the Monterey Bay Air Resources District (MBARD) between approximately November 2015 and September 2017. MBARD discovered that Defendants had repeatedly disturbed asbestos-containing materials, many of which were previously identified in an asbestos survey that was conducted before the start of the renovation project. These disturbed asbestos-containing materials were then disposed of as regular construction waste rather than hazardous waste.
Defendants were cooperative throughout the investigation. The settlement requires Defendants to pay a total of $475,000, comprising $375,000 in civil penalties, and $100,000 in costs.
Buildings, both old and new, commonly contain asbestos. The federal asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for demolitions and renovations, incorporated in MBARD’s Rule 424, applies to buildings regardless of the age of the building or date of construction. Owners and operators of demolitions and renovations must comply with the asbestos NESHAP even if a facility has previously undergone renovation or demolition.
EPC Trading, Inc. Case Settles for $39,100
EPC Trading, Inc. (EPC) is an Arcadia, California, based company that manufactures Kobe brand range hoods. EPC sold or offered for sale range hoods in California, from July 2015 to June 2019.
This case was the result of an anonymous complaint. The California Energy Commission’s (CEC) investigation process identified that EPC was manufacturing and offering for sale range hoods that were not certified to the Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System (MAEDbS).
To settle this matter, EPC executed a Settlement Agreement with CEC on October 16, 2019, for $39,100.00. The penalty monies are deposited into the Appliance Efficiency Enforcement Subaccount established by SB 454 of 2011 (Pavley). EPC has also agreed to a compliance plan to test and certify all models to MAEDbS before continuing to sell in California.
AFA USA, LLC Case Settles for $20,000
AFA USA, LLC (AFA) is a Costa Mesa, California, based company that manufactures plumbing fittings. AFA sold or offered for sale plumbing fittings in California, from July 2015 to May 2019.
This case was the result of an internal tip. The California Energy Commission’s (CEC) investigation process identified that AFA was manufacturing and offering for sale plumbing fittings that did not meet the efficiency standard, were not marked properly, and were not certified to the Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System (MAEDbS).
To settle this matter, AFA executed a Settlement Agreement with CEC on October 16, 2019, for $20,000.00. The penalty monies are deposited into the Appliance Efficiency Enforcement Subaccount established by SB 454 of 2011 (Pavley). AFA 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.
EQ Revokes Solid Waste Permit for Tri-City Facility – Decision Comes After Finding of Repeated Violations
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has revoked the Solid Waste Facility Permit Number 228 to operate the Tri-City Regional Disposal and Recycling facility in Petersburg. The decision came after a formal hearing was held in June before a Hearing Officer.
DEQ has determined that CFS Group Disposal & Recycling Services, LLC exceeded the permitted waste pile height, failed to adequately cover exposed waste, failed to maintain the required amount of extra waste cover and failed to correct the violations in a timely manner even after being repeatedly notified.
The facility is no longer permitted to accept solid waste in accordance with DEQ regulations. The permit is reissued for the limited purpose of closure and providing post-closure care of the Tri-City facility, in accordance with 9 VAC 20-81-160 and 9 VAC 20-81-170 and the Special Order issued concurrently with this Case Decision. CFS has the right to appeal pursuant to Virginia law.
“These violations, as well as previous issues covered in Consent Orders issued by the Waste Management Board to CFS, represent a pattern of serious and repeated abuse,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “The Commonwealth of Virginia has made it clear that non-compliance like this will not stand.”
In November of last year, the Commonwealth of Virginia filed a lawsuit against CFS for repeated waste management violations at its Tri-City Landfill. The suit was filed after the matter was referred to the Office of Attorney General by DEQ, whose staff provided the information from inspections, two Consent Orders, one Warning Letter, one Notice of Violation and notices to CFS of the ongoing violations on multiple occasions. The lawsuit explained that DEQ notified CFS of violations in September 2015, July 2017, July 2018 and August 2018, but violations continued.
Como Lube & Supplies to Pay $50,000 in Penalties for Storage Tank Violations in Duluth
Como Lube & Supplies, Inc., has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for violations related to operating and maintaining storage tanks at its Duluth facility. An MPCA inspection at the company, which packages and distributes lubricants and collects and recycles used oil, revealed a number of violations related to maintaining its tanks.
Businesses that store petroleum products or other chemicals in tanks must follow specific rules, inspection schedules, and operating practices to ensure tanks do not corrode. The MPCA found that the company had many tanks with excessive corrosion, did not have an adequate corrosion protection system on four tanks, didn’t have the required overfill prevention systems on 17 tanks, and failed to supply certain required documentation to the MPCA.
The MPCA inspector also noted instances in which tanks were removed from service, and the permittee failed to sample for contamination underneath the tank as required.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected the environment, whether they were first-time or repeat violations, and how promptly the violations were reported to authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
Heartland Corn Products Agrees to Pay $53,000 for Environmental Violations
Heartland Corn Products, an ethanol producer in Winthrop, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $53,000 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for a variety of environmental violations at its facility. The violations came to light when the company conducted its own environmental audit in 2018 after a change in management. In addition to paying the penalty, the company will also correct the violations it identified and fully comply with its various permits going forward.
The audit found the facility had not been doing proper recordkeeping, performance testing, and reporting to the MPCA on the operation and maintenance of its pollution control equipment. In addition, Heartland had not fulfilled requirements around managing stormwater and dust on its property and handling hazardous wastes and used oil.
Environmental audits offer MPCA permittees a way to identify compliance problems and correct them without incurring penalties, provided the violations are under certain thresholds. In Heartland’s case, the audit turned up many violations that in total exceeded the discretionary threshold for civil penalties. However, MPCA officials credited the company’s new management for voluntarily undertaking the audit knowing that penalties would probably result.
MPCA permits are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with permit requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.
TCEQ Emissions Inventory Workshop
The workshop will cover updates for the 2019 reporting year, Web-EI reporting, applicability requirements, and common emissions sources. There will be a presentation from Emissions Banking and Trading on Web submissions for applications.
Early registration is $79 and runs through January 9, 2020.
4-Year Prison Sentence for Tire Dumping
A man who illegally dumped hundreds of scrap tires in Highland County, Ohio will spend the next four years in prison, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced.
Ronald Ison, 37, was sentenced on Oct. 17 after he pleaded no contest in August to seven counts of illegal open dumping of scrap tires and one count of illegal transportation of scrap tires.
“This guy created a public safety hazard, trashed the public’s land and then forced the public to foot the bill to clean up his mess,” Yost said. “This is where the rubber meets the road.”
Ison transported and dumped more than 200 scrap tires during 2017 at locations throughout the county, including the Paint Creek Lake Wildlife Area. He obtained the tires from a local junkyard that agreed to pay him for their disposal.
In one case, tires he discarded on a Paint Township roadway disabled a school bus that was transporting children, causing them to arrive late for school.
Prior to his sentencing, Ison paid restitution of $730 to the local solid waste district for the cleanup costs.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Environmental Enforcement Unit in partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. Attorneys from Yost’s Environmental Enforcement Section prosecuted the case.
Tukwila Business Settles Dangerous Waste Penalty
The Washington Department of Ecology fined Fatigue Technology $17,000 in February 2019 for violating hazardous waste requirements at its facility. The company did not provide records of dangerous waste, did not provide a dangerous waste training plan or employee records, and did not properly label dangerous waste. Since an April 2019 inspection, Fatigue has cooperated with Ecology and corrected the violations.
“We appreciate these efforts to bring the facility into compliance,” said Raman Iyer, Ecology’s regional supervisor for its Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program. “This will place an ongoing focus on public and employee safety, protect the environment, and avoid further legal costs.”
Funding Now Available for SC Projects Aimed at Reducing Diesel Engine Emissions
Grant funding is now available for the replacement or upgrade of older diesel engines in an effort to help reduce diesel emissions in South Carolina.Diesel emissions make up a significant portion of the mobile source air pollution in South Carolina, however, roughly $267,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) will help South Carolina support clean diesel projects.
“Older-model diesel engines that are still in operation produce significantly higher emissions compared to modern diesel engines and engines powered by alternative fuel sources,” said Rhonda Thompson, DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality Chief. “This funding will support projects that target older engines for early replacement or retrofit to help reduce the harmful impact of diesel emissions on public and environmental health.”
DERA funding is intended for county, city, or other local government entities, private organizations, businesses, and universities. Grants are awarded to eligible applicants for the implementation of diesel emissions reduction projects that achieve public health and air quality goals. These projects should be cost-effective plans to reduce emissions through engine repowers, equipment and exhaust retrofits, or equipment replacements. EPA will share between 25% and 100% of the costs, depending on the type of project.
Previously allocated DERA grant funding has been used to replace school buses, repower a marine vessel, and retrofit emergency response vehicles.
“DERA continues to support innovative projects which improve air quality while simultaneously creating economic investment in South Carolina,” Thompson said.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, for primary consideration. Applications received after this date will be considered as funding is available. A lower percentage of grant funding requested increases an applicant’s likelihood to receive funding. Additional information, applications and a list of projects previously funded in South Carolina by similar DERA grants are available here
Maryland Attorney General Frosh Requests Approval to Pursue Environmental Claims Against Manufacturer of PCBs
TMaryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has requested approval from Governor Larry Hogan to pursue claims against Monsanto, the sole manufacturer of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), for environmental harms arising from contamination of Maryland’s waterways. PCBs are a class of chemical compounds that has long been linked to carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic adverse health effects in humans, and that has been found to contaminate waterways across Maryland. Monsanto produced PCBs until they were banned by federal law in 1979.
“PCBs are toxic to the environment and to human health,” said Attorney General Frosh. “It appears that Monsanto continued to promote and distribute PCBs despite awareness that they would have a long-lasting and devastating impact.”
PCBs were widely used from 1920 to 1979 in a range of industrial and commercial applications and products, including home appliances, lighting ballasts, paint, caulk, transformers, food cookers, thermostats, hydraulic fluids, coolants, inks, and lubricants. Monsanto sold PCBs under the brand name “Arocolors” during most or all of this period. Decades after PCBs were banned, they remain in the environment and are transported by stormwater runoff into streams, rivers and other water bodies. The World Health Organization has described PCBs as one of the best known of the group of chemicals it identifies as “persistent organic pollutants”—“chemicals of global concern due to their potential for long-range transport, persistence in the environment, ability to bio-magnify and bio-accumulate in ecosystems, as well as their significant negative effects on human health and the environment.”
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has found more than a dozen Maryland waterways to be impaired as a result of PCB contamination, including the Potomac River, the Susquehanna River, the Anacostia River, the Gunpowder River, and substantial portions of the Chesapeake Bay. Humans may be exposed to PCBs through ingestion, inhalation or direct contact. Human exposure is associated with numerous serious health effects, including malignant melanoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer. Non-cancer health effects include damage to the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system. PCBs are known to become concentrated in the tissues of fish that inhabit PCB- impaired waterways, and MDE has issued dozens of fish consumption advisories for waterways across Maryland based on findings of high PCB concentrations. MDE has also issued a categorical warning against the consumption of swordfish and tilefish by children, pregnant women, and women who are nursing, because of the particularly high concentrations of PCBs found in those species.
Publicly available information suggests that, while continuing to produce “Arocolors” and promote their use, Monsanto knew for decades that PCBs were highly toxic and would result in widespread environmental contamination. As early as the 1930’s, Monsanto was aware of scientific literature finding that inhalation of PCBs in industrial settings would result in toxic systemic effects. Over several decades, Monsanto documented the adverse health impact of PCB exposure on its own employees and customers and repeatedly acknowledged in internal documentation the toxicity of PCBs. It further appears that, before Congress finally banned the manufacture and sale of products containing PCBs in 1979, Monsanto misrepresented its understanding about the environmental impact of PCBs, telling government entities and customers that PCBs were not particularly toxic and that the company did not expect to find them widespread in the environment.
Cleaning Company and Owner Plead Guilty to Dumping of Hazardous Substance
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced that PH Company, Inc. d/b/a Gleamol Cleaning and its co-owner and manager, Patrick A. Haddad, of Glen Burnie, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County to criminal violations of Maryland’s environmental laws related to the illegal disposal of controlled hazardous waste. The company pleaded guilty to the Unlawful Disposal of Controlled Hazardous Substance, and Patrick Haddad pleaded guilty to the Discharge of a Pollutant to Waters of the State. Prior to sentencing, the company provided proof of compliance with all applicable environmental, health, and safety laws as well as written policies, signed by employees, for the lawful disposal of waste. The Honorable Judge Stacy W. McCormack ordered the company to pay a fine of $60,000, suspending all but $25,000, payable to the Maryland Hazardous Substance Control Fund, and 5 years probation; Haddad was sentenced to one year of incarceration, suspended, a fine of $20,000, suspended, and 3 years probation.
On July 4, 2018, a citizen driving on Connelley Drive in Hanover observed what was later determined to be two employees of PH Company, Inc. pouring gallon containers of liquid into a storm drain. The citizen confronted the individuals and they ceased, however, a half hour later, the same citizen observed the same individuals dumping liquid onto the pavement from a loading dock at 7513 Connelley Drive and washing the fluid into the storm drain. Maryland Department of the Environment’s Emergency Response Division responded to the location as well as Chief Investigator Thomas Waugh, of the Maryland Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Unit.
Upon further investigation, Waugh determined that the employees were dumping off- specification grill and oven cleaner into the storm drains. Due to the extreme corrosivity of the waste, it is categorized as a controlled hazardous substance, and must be disposed of with a licensed transporter and taken to a licensed facility, with cradle-to-grave record keeping throughout the process. Haddad responded to the location and stated that he ordered his employees to dispose of the off-specification waste in order to reuse the bottles. It is estimated that up to 100 gallons of waste was poured into the drain.
PH Company, Inc. contacted an environmental remediation company that responded to the scene that day and completed the cleanup of the parking lot and drain.
In making the announcement, Attorney General Frosh thanks the Environmental Crimes Unit’s Chief Investigator Thomas Waugh for his assistance in this case and the citizen that took responsibility to help protect our environment.
$47,150 Fine for Wetlands Protection Act Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized Pine Hill Properties, LLC $47,150 for unpermitted alterations to five acres of bordering vegetated wetlands and 250 linear feet of intermittent stream at their property located at 322 Pine Hill Road in Westport. MassDEP had inspected the property along with the Westport Conservation Commission on January 9, 2019 after the Commission requested technical assistance.
Pine Hill Properties has now agreed to restore the altered resource areas under the supervision of a qualified wetlands specialist by May 1, 2020. In addition, the restoration work must be at least 75% reestablished over two growing seasons or additional measures will be required to achieve compliance. Demonstration of successful restoration will include written reports and photographic evidence.
“The unpermitted alterations of wetland resource areas constitute a serious destruction of the state’s vital resource areas that MassDEP will not allow under any circumstances,” said Millie Garcia-Serrano, Director of MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville.
Pine Hill Properties, in addition to the restoration work, has agreed to pay $42,150. MassDEP has agreed to suspend the remaining $5,000 provided all terms of the order are met.
Harcros Chemicals, Inc. Cited for Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA announced that Harcros Chemicals Inc. will pay a civil penalty for alleged unauthorized releases of a hazardous substance at its Kansas City, Kansas, facility in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Vanadium pentoxide is regulated as an “extremely hazardous substance” under federal law. As part of the settlement, the company will pay a penalty of $139,745 and install a system to recover waste isopropyl alcohol from being emitted into the air or discharged into the facility’s wastewater system. The recovery system is expected to cost $600,000.
“Unauthorized on-site management and off-site disposal of hazardous waste threaten human health and the environment. In this case, Harcros’ actions resulted in potential worker exposures and runoff into the facility’s stormwater and wastewater system,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “As a result of this settlement, on-site workers and the surrounding community will have greater protection from any potential releases from this facility.”
EPA’s investigation found that Harcros released significant quantities of vanadium pentoxide hazardous waste into the environment since the 1960s. This hazardous waste included contaminated sludges from the facility’s stormwater and wastewater system; production wastes such as containers and drum liners; and spilled vanadium pentoxide, all of which Harcros managed on-site and disposed off-site as a non-hazardous solid waste through at least August 2018, in violation of RCRA.
In addition to paying the penalty and installing the system, the settlement requires Harcros to submit a proposal to perform hazardous waste determinations on vanadium pentoxide wastes for EPA to review and approve.
EPA expects the installation of the waste recovery system to reduce releases of isopropyl alcohol by 196,000 pounds per year.
NSPS for Stationary Compression Ignition Engines Revised for Remote Alaskan Communities
EPA has issued a final rule
to revise the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Stationary Compression Ignition (CI) Internal Combustion Engines. Amending the standards will increase energy affordability and reliability in remote Alaska. It is also expected to improve air quality by reducing particulate matter (PM) by approximately 80%.
“EPA is delivering better air quality for all Alaskans by modernizing regulations to meet their needs while protecting human health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Thanks to leadership from Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Congressman Young, our new rule supports the use of affordable, reliable energy sources that we know work in Alaska’s arctic climate.”
“Having operated utilities in rural Alaska for over 25 years, I know firsthand that power reliability challenges are significant even without more stringent regulations. This approach will allow utilities to provide power more reliably while ensuring older units can be replaced with newer more efficient diesel engines. This is a success story for rural communities operating off the grid,” said Regional Administrator Chris Hladick.
“When I’m back home in Alaska, I have a firsthand look at how the EPA can impact our state, from restoring contaminated sites, to ensuring clean drinking water, and now helping communities have greater access to more affordable, dependable energy. I appreciate Senator Sullivan and Congressman Young for their leadership on this issue and the EPA for recognizing that a one-size-fits-all method isn’t workable for our state. These new regulations will make much-needed progress towards enabling Alaskans to lower the costs of their energy bills,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). “This is significant, long-awaited news for the remote communities and villages in Alaska that rely on these generators to keep their homes warm and the lights on.”
The rule satisfies the agency’s obligation to revise the rule under the recently enacted Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act, which was signed into law by President Trump on Oct. 4, 2019.
This action revises the PM emission standard for new stationary CI engines (2014 model year and later) located in remote areas of Alaska to meet the Tier 3 standard. This amendment will allow these engines to comply with the rule without having to add a diesel particulate filter to newly installed engines. In 2011, EPA revised the rule to remove the requirement for these engines to meet the Tier 4 standards for other pollutants. Tier 3 engines reduce PM emissions by approximately 80% over current in-use engines.
This final rule allows remote areas of Alaska to meet the NSPS by installing new Tier 3 engines rather than more complex Tier 4 engines. Although Tier 4 engines achieve better emissions performance through the use of filters, these filters require additional maintenance and supplies for the engines to function properly, and these maintenance and supplies may not be available in remote arctic areas. Given that these engines are crucial to support life during harsh winters in these areas, the ability of the engines to function reliably under those conditions is extremely important. Contrary to EPA's expectations in 2006, the use and reliability of the Tier 4 engines have not been demonstrated in extreme conditions. Therefore, EPA has determined that Tier 3 compression ignition (diesel) engines are the best system of emission control available in remote areas of Alaska.
Two Massachusetts Companies Ordered to Comply with Environmental Laws and Pay $1.3 Million in Penalties
The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts recently ordered R.M. Packer Company, Inc., and Tisbury Towing and Transportation Co., Inc., to comply with environmental laws and pay penalties of $1.3 million to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. The EPA had cited numerous violations and urged the companies to come into compliance with federal and state environmental laws.
The two related Massachusetts companies distribute gasoline and other petroleum products. The court established a four-year time period for the companies to pay the penalties associated with this case.
"This decision shows that EPA and the Department of Justice are committed to holding accountable those entities that fail to comply with critical laws that protect clean air and clean water," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "Once these two companies take the measures required by the court's order, they will reduce their environmental impacts in the communities where they do business."
R.M. Packer, which owns and operates a petroleum bulk fuel terminal on Beach Road in Tisbury, Massachusetts, was cited for violations of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Specifically, the court found that R.M. Packer violated the federal Clean Air Act and applicable Massachusetts regulations by failing to properly operate and maintain emission control equipment, failing to repair vapor leaks from equipment and failing to inspect, document and report on operations. Gasoline vapors contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants such as benzene.
The court also found that R.M. Packer failed to comply with industrial stormwater requirements under the Clean Water Act. Stormwater runoff from the R.M. Packer facility contains contaminants that threaten the sensitive coastal waters of Lagoon Pond and Vineyard Haven Harbor. To protect these resources, EPA's industrial stormwater permit requires R.M. Packer to implement stormwater controls, known as best management practices, to filter out pollutants and/or prevent pollution by controlling it at its source. The court found that R.M. Packer failed to install and maintain proper stormwater best management practices for boat cleaning operations, waste stockpiles, and oil and waste storage containers. In addition to ordering R.M. Packer to fully comply with stormwater requirements, the court ordered R.M. Packer to comply with facility requirements for implementation of the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan, and the Facility Response Plan.
Tisbury Towing operates fuel barges that transport gasoline and other petroleum products between its pier on Herman Melville Boulevard in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and local destinations including the R.M. Packer terminal in Tisbury. The court found that Tisbury Towing failed to comply with Massachusetts Air Pollution Control regulations by failing to meet requirements for demonstrating vapor-tightness and failing to obtain an emission control plan.
Excess emissions of VOCs and benzene from the R.M. Packer and Tisbury Towing operations threaten human health and the environment. Benzene is a component of gasoline that may produce adverse health effects including cancer. VOCs contribute to the formation of ground level ozone. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for sensitive populations including children, elderly, and those with lung diseases, such as asthma. Ground level ozone can also have harmful effects on sensitive vegetation and ecosystems.
Service King Paint & Body to Pay $2.35 Million for Illegally Disposing of Hazardous Waste
An undercover inspection that began in 2016 revealed that Service King Paint & Body facilities in San Diego and across California were illegally disposing hazardous waste generated during auto body repair operations and violating laws related to storing and managing hazardous waste. Service King, a Texas limited liability company, currently owns and operates 42 auto body repair facilities throughout California, including five Service King auto repair shops in San Diego County.
As a result of the investigation, which was led by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, Service King Paint & Body, LLC will pay $2.35 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution alleging the auto body repair company mishandled hazardous waste and confidential customer information.
“This case reflects the importance of businesses such as the auto body repair industry to abide by environmental laws that are in place to protect and conserve our natural resources and to keep our communities healthy,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “We are proud to work with our district attorney partners and environmental regulators across the state to enforce California’s environmental laws to ensure these hazardous wastes are handled properly.”
The settlement with Service King follows other recent California statewide settlements of environmental hazardous waste violations involving the auto body repair and automotive repair industries. In 2018, California District Attorneys settled cases with Cooks Collision for $1.53 million, and AutoNation for $3.38 million, involving similar environmental and consumer protection violations.
The investigation began in 2016 when Alameda County District Attorney investigators conducted undercover inspections of Service King trash containers, which revealed the illegal disposal of large quantities of hazardous auto body sanding dust, sanding pads, automotive paints, clear coats, solvents, non-empty aerosols, and other hazardous substances used during the auto body repair process, as well as confidential customer information. District Attorney Investigators from San Diego, Santa Clara, San Bernardino, and Orange counties then conducted additional inspections at Service King auto body repair shops throughout California and found similar unlawful disposals.
As part of the settlement, Service King is ordered to pay $1.35 million in civil penalties, $350,000 in costs of investigation, and $150,000 towards supplemental environmental projects. Service King has also been ordered to spend $500,000 on equipment designed to limit the release of hazardous auto body wastes into the environment and recycle solvents and waste water produced during the automotive painting process. The settlement also requires Service King to employ an additional full- time employee in California who will be responsible for environmental compliance and training.
The case was brought by the District Attorney’s offices of San Diego, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, Sutter, and Yolo counties, where Service King’s auto body repair shops are located. Service King cooperated with the District Attorneys’ investigation and took steps to improve its compliance with the environmental and consumer protection laws brought to its attention by the prosecutors.
Environmental Penalties in Washington for Third Quarter 2019
The Washington Department of Ecology issued $229,150 in penalties of $1,000 or more July through September 2019. A detailed list of the violations and resulting penalties is posted below.
Ecology works with thousands of businesses and individuals to help them comply with state laws. Ecology issues penalties in cases where non-compliance continues after providing warnings or technical assistance, or for particularly serious violations.
In some cases, the penalty amount may be reduced as the result of a settlement or court ruling. Funds collected go to the state’s general fund or to dedicated pollution prevention accounts
Ecology strives to protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s environment and promote wise management for current and future generations. When someone pollutes Washington’s land, air or waters, Ecology enforces state and federal regulations in hopes of changing behavior and deterring future violations.
Emerald Kalama Chemical
Seven containers of dangerous waste were missing labels identifying risks. The containers included 50-gallon drums of cleanup debris, oil, and lab waste and a 5,000-gallon container of Benzyl Alcohol waste.
Ocean Gold Seafoods Inc.
2,000 gallons of untreated wastewater from a seafood processing plant spilled into the Westport Marine Boat Basin.
Port Townsend Paper
Violated air quality emission limits for metals at the lime kiln on 2/27/19 and 3/1/19. The lime kiln is used to recycle chemicals in the paper making process.
Stetson Heights LLC
In 2018, cleared more than 80 steeply sloped acres on Glenwood Road SW in Port Orchard without protecting the bare ground from stormwater erosion. Stormwater from autumn rains flowed from the cleared land as muddy water. By late fall, up to 4 feet of mud covered parts of wetlands and streams on – and adjacent to – the project property. Wetlands flow to streams with runs of salmon and steelhead trout. Also ordered to take corrective action. Penalty and order appealed. (details)
Fined for illegally burning prohibited materials in a trash pile that required the South Pend Oreille Fire and Rescue to extinguish.
City of Tacoma
Spilled 70,000 to 130,000 gallons of sewage to Puget Sound, due to a missing diversion gate at the decommissioned Western Slopes Waste Water Treatment Plant. The plant was supposed to store sewage diverted during a sewer line repair in University Place in the late evening/early morning hours of Oct. 23-24, 2017.
Town of Concrete
Bypassed wastewater treatment by discharging 50,000 gallons of raw sewage into the ground at a former treatment lagoon on July 24-26, 2019. This violated a January 2019 agreement to settle the town’s appeal of a 2018 penalty for $12,800
, in which half of the penalty was suspended.
National Retail Systems
Released 100 to 150 gallons of diesel fuel to Halls Creek in Lynnwood from a semi-truck forced off I-5 on Nov. 23, 2018. Also assessed $1,283 for damages to natural resources.
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