OSHA Issued $2,025,431 in Coronavirus Penalties

November 02, 2020
OSHA Issued $2,025,431 in Coronavirus Penalties
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Oct. 22, 2020, OSHA has cited 144 establishments for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $2,025,431.
OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:
OSHA had previously announced citations relating to COVID-19 to 112 establishments. In addition to those establishments, the 32 establishments below have received coronavirus-related citations totaling $421,887 from OSHA relating to one or more of the above violations from Oct. 16 to Oct. 22, 2020. OSHA provides more information about individual citations at its Establishment Search website, which it updates periodically.
Establishment Name
88 Clark Lane Operating LLC
Mission Care of Illinois LLC (Abbott EMS)
Concerto Renal Services LLC
Alden Terrace McHenry
East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Corp.
Andover Subacute and Rehab Center Services One Inc.
New Jersey
Green Knoll Care LLC
New Jersey
Avista Healthcare
Cherry Hill
New Jersey
Innova Gloucester Deptford Bridge Operations LLC
New Jersey
Prospect EOGH Inc. (East Orange General Hospital)
East Orange
New Jersey
Emergency Physicians Association of North Jersey PC
East Orange
New Jersey
Care One at Birchwood LLC
New Jersey
Egg Harbor Care Center LLC.
Egg Harbor Township
New Jersey
Innova Gloucester Deptford Bridge Operations LLC
New Jersey
Hunterdon Care Center
New Jersey
Livingston Care Center LP
New Jersey
Hallmark Healthcare LLC (Pine Acres Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center)
New Jersey
Virtua-West Jersey Health System Inc.
Mount Holly
New Jersey
Aveanna Healthcare
Mount Laurel
New Jersey
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
New Jersey
Mt. Bethel Management Company LLC
New Jersey
ManorCare Health Services
West Deptford
New Jersey
The Silvercrest Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation
New York
The Silvercrest Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation
New York
Bronxcare Health System
New York
Boro Park Operating Co LLC
New York
Swift Beef Co. (JBS)
Queens Boulevard Extended Care Facility Management LLC
New York
Queens Boulevard Extended Care Facility Management LLC
New York
Long Island Jewish-Forest Hills Hospital
Forest Hills
New York
Maryhaven Center of Hope Inc.
Port Jefferson Station
New York
Swift Beef Co. (JBS)
A full list of what standards were cited for each establishment – and the inspection number – are available here. An OSHA standards database can be found here.
Resources are available on the agency’s COVID-19 webpage to help employers comply with these standards.
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Are Your Sanitizing Products Safe and Effective?
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is cautioning Alaskans not to buy hand wipes for sanitizing surfaces.
"There is a significant shortage of surface sanitizing wipes, such as Clorox wipes, and we are now seeing hand wipes stocked in their place in the cleaning products aisles of retailers across the state," said Karin Hendrickson, Pesticide Program coordinator. "Hand wipes are not effective for surface sanitizing, and Alaskans need to be aware of this so that they don’t purchase the wrong product by mistake."
For surface sanitizers, such as wipes, look for an EPA registration number on the package. This number ensures that the product is safe, effective, and legal for people to use as a surface sanitizer.
Before registering a product, the EPA analyzes each product’s contents and manufacturing process to ensure it will be effective. There are several things that can limit how well a product will sanitize surfaces: does it have effective ingredients? Is there enough of it to work? Has it been manufactured and packaged in a way to preserve the active ingredient?
The EPA also reviews whether the contents of a product are safe for consumers, animals, and the environment. They require safety information to protect consumers, such as the need to wear gloves or take other protective measures.
Hand sanitizers are designed to be safe to apply to the skin, and often have lower concentrations of sanitizing ingredients than surface sanitizers to prevent irritation or harm. They would not be expected to meet EPA effectiveness requirements for surface sanitation.
"Check the package for the intended use of the product and for an EPA registration number before you use it," said Hendrickson.
For more information on how to tell if the sanitizing products you have are safe and effective to use, please see: safe and effective sanitizing products. Alaskans who believe a product they have purchased or have seen for sale may not be safe or effective for use as a surface sanitizer can report this to the Pesticide Control Program at 1-800-478-2577.
Tennessee to Revise Hazardous Waste Regulations
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Division of Solid Waste Management (DSWM) will hold a hearing on proposed changes to the Hazardous Waste Management rules, 0400-12-01. At the hearing, DSWM will present and receive comments on this proposal which is intended to bring state regulations into conformance with the final federal rules to: 1) allow aerosol cans that contain hazardous waste to be managed as universal waste, 2) to update the regulations for the identification of ignitable hazardous waste, to modernize the hazardous waste testing methods and, 3) to make the changes requested by EPA on a draft Authorization Package that TDEC had submitted to EPA.
A redlined version of the rules and a signed copy is available. Comments are due by November 10, 2020 at 4:30 pm CST.
California to Classify Solar Panels as Universal Waste
On Jan. 1, California will be the first state in the nation to add hazardous waste solar panels to its universal waste program, a move intended to promote solar panel recycling and reuse and to keep them out of landfills. The new regulation is a stepping stone toward the full “cradle-to-grave” approach for climate initiatives that California sets forth and acts as a model for the rest of the nation to follow.
With solar providing an increasing amount of the state’s electricity, and new laws that require solar panels on new homes, California is one of the first states to streamline waste management options for these energy systems.
“Once again, California is leading the way on the safe handling of hazardous waste,” said Dr. Meredith Williams, Director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control. “This streamlined and easy to understand end-of-life system is another great step forward in our state’s efforts to put environmental protection first – both for the health and safety of our people and natural resources.”
The new regulation on solar panels, also known as photovoltaic modules, provides a less restrictive and more streamlined alternative to waste management for solar panels, while still maintaining restrictions on toxic chemicals such as lead, cadmium and selenium.
The regulation applies to the handling, collection, accumulation, and transportation of solar panel waste. It allows self-authorization for universal waste handlers to conduct certain physical treatment activities on solar panels.
Solar panels or parts that are not recycled and are slated for disposal may still be considered hazardous waste and subject to hazardous waste standards.
The universal waste designation only applies to solar panel waste handled in California. Once transported outside California, the waste must be managed in compliance with respective local, state, and federal regulations related to hazardous wastes.
Fact Sheet on Ammonium Nitrate from NFPA
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released a new fact sheet in to help clear up misconceptions about ammonium nitrate dangers. The fact sheet was developed following the catastrophic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon that reportedly killed 190 people, injured 6,500 more, left an estimated 300,000 residents homeless.
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound produced in both solid and liquid form that is commonly used in fertilizers. Pure ammonium nitrate is stable, and when stored properly, it poses few safety hazards. Destabilization, however, can occur when flames or fire heats the ammonium nitrate causing it to become self-reactive and give off gases that are flammable and can ignite.
The new guidance, which is also available in Spanish, looks at conditions that might destabilize ammonium nitrate and offers safety steps that can protect buildings before an enforcement issue or incident occurs. The document covers the following:
  • How and why ammonium nitrate turns dangerous
  • Dangerous and highly dangerous conditions
  • How to increase facility protection
  • Safety requirements
  • New construction and existing facilities
  • Detection and notification systems
  • Emergency response issues
NFPA has generated related content about ammonium nitrate including a video blog, an NFPA Journal article, a podcast, a Learn Something New video, and a blog about hot work. An Arabic version of the new fact sheet will be posted later this fall. All these resources point to the guidance that is available in NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code.
Exposure to Air Pollution Increases COVID-19 Deaths by 15% Worldwide
Long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of dying from COVID-19 and, for the first time, a study has estimated the proportion of deaths from the coronavirus that could be attributed to the exacerbating effects of air pollution for every country in the world.
The study, published in Cardiovascular Research, estimated that about 15% of deaths worldwide from COVID-19 could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. In Europe the proportion was about 19%, in North America it was 17%, and in East Asia about 27%.
In their CVR paper, the researchers write that these proportions are an estimate of “the fraction of COVID-19 deaths that could be avoided if the population were exposed to lower counterfactual air pollution levels without fossil fuel-related and other anthropogenic [caused by humans] emissions.”
They add that this “attributable fraction does not imply a direct cause-effect relationship between air pollution and COVID-19 mortality (although it is possible). Instead it refers to relationships between two, direct and indirect, i.e. by aggravating co-morbidities [other health conditions] that could lead to fatal health outcomes of the virus infection.”
The research team includes Professor Jos Lelieveld, of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany, and the Cyprus Institute Nicosia, Cyprus, Professor Thomas Münzel, from the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, and the German Center for Cardiovascular Research, Mainz, and Dr. Andrea Pozzer, from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry.
The researchers used epidemiological data from previous US and Chinese studies of air pollution and COVID-19 and the SARS outbreak in 2003, supported by additional data from Italy. They combined this with satellite data showing global exposure to polluting fine particles known as ‘particulate matter’ that are less than or equal to 2.5 microns in diameter (known as PM2.5), information on atmospheric conditions and ground-based pollution monitoring networks, to create a model to calculate the fraction of coronavirus deaths that could be attributable to long-term exposure to PM2.5. The results are based on epidemiological data collected up the third week in June 2020 and the researchers say a comprehensive evaluation will need to follow after the pandemic has subsided.
Estimates for individual countries show, for example, that air pollution contributed to 29% of coronavirus deaths in the Czech Republic, 27% in China, 26% in Germany, 22% in Switzerland, 21% in Belgium, 19% in The Netherlands, 18% in France, 16% in Sweden, 15% in Italy, 14% in the UK, 12% in Brazil, 11% in Portugal, 8% in the Republic of Ireland, 6% in Israel, 3% in Australia and just 1% in New Zealand.
Prof. Jos Lelieveld said: “Since the numbers of deaths from COVID-19 are increasing all the time, it’s not possible to give exact or final numbers of COVID-19 deaths per country that can be attributed to air pollution. However, as an example, in the UK there have been over 44,000 coronavirus deaths and we estimate that the fraction attributable to air pollution is 14%, meaning that more than 6,100 deaths could be attributed to air pollution. In the USA, more than 220,000 COVID deaths with a fraction of 18% yields about 40,000 deaths attributable to air pollution.”
Prof. Münzel said: “When people inhale polluted air, the very small polluting particles, the PM2.5, migrate from the lungs to the blood and blood vessels, causing inflammation and severe oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between free radicals and oxidants in the body that normally repair damage to cells. This causes damage to the inner lining of arteries, the endothelium, and leads to the narrowing and stiffening of the arteries. The COVID-19 virus also enters the body via the lungs, causing similar damage to blood vessels, and it is now considered to be an endothelial disease.
“If both long-term exposure to air pollution and infection with the COVID-19 virus come together then we have an additive adverse effect on health, particularly with respect to the heart and blood vessels, which leads to greater vulnerability and less resilience to COVID-19. If you already have heart disease, then air pollution and coronavirus infection will cause trouble that can lead to heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.”
Referring to previous work that suggests that the fine particulates in air pollution may prolong the atmospheric lifetime of infectious viruses and help them to infect more people, Prof. Lelieveld said: “It’s likely that particulate matter plays a role in ‘super-spreading events’ by favouring transmission.”
Prof. Münzel added: “Particulate matter seems to increase the activity of a receptor on cell surfaces, called ACE-2, that is known to be involved in the way COVID-19 infects cells. So we have a ‘double hit’: air pollution damages the lungs and increases the activity of ACE-2, which in turn leads to enhanced uptake of the virus by the lungs and probably by the blood vessels and the heart.”
In their paper, the authors conclude: “Our results suggest the potential for substantial benefits from reducing air pollution exposure, even at relatively low PM2.5 levels. A lesson from our environmental perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the quest for effective policies to reduce anthropogenic emissions, which cause both air pollution and climate change, needs to be accelerated. The pandemic ends with the vaccination of the population or with herd immunity through extensive infection of the population. However, there are no vaccines against poor air quality and climate change. The remedy is to mitigate emissions. The transition to a green economy with clean, renewable energy sources will further both environmental and public health locally through improved air quality and globally by limiting climate change.”
The study is also the first of its kind to distinguish between fossil fuel-related and other human-made sources of air pollution.
One limitation of the research is that epidemiological data from the US were collected at the level of counties rather than from individuals, which means that it is more difficult to exclude confounding factors. Even though 20 factors that could affect the results were accounted for, additional factors cannot be excluded. A second limitation is that data have been collected in middle- to high-income countries (China, US, and corroborated by data from Europe); the calculations were carried out for the whole world, meaning that the results for low-income countries may be less robust.
$1.14 Million Fine for Soil, Groundwater Contamination
The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a $1.14 million penalty against Cham-Cal Engineering Co. and Western Avenue Associates, L.P. for failing to comply with a 2016 Cleanup and Abatement Order.
Cham-Cal, the operator and owner of a facility in Garden Grove that manufactures commercial truck accessories, used and stored tetrachloroethene (PCE) in its vapor degreasing operation, resulting in repeated discharges of the suspected cancer-causing contaminant to soil and groundwater on industrial property owned by Western Avenue Associates.
The order required Cham-Cal and Western Avenue Associates to remediate the contaminated soil, soil vapor and groundwater beneath the facility and submit technical reports to the regional board. The companies instead failed to meet most of their deadlines and were penalized for submitting a late Interim Remedial Action Plan and neglecting to implement a Vapor Mitigation Plan to protect workers from inhaling PCE – a solvent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a probable human carcinogen.
“Our staff worked with Cham-Cal and Western Avenue Associates for several years trying to get them to comply with the cleanup and abatement order,” said Santa Ana Water Board Chair William Ruh. “Yet despite our efforts, the order’s requirements were not fulfilled. In addition to recovering the companies’ economic gains from noncompliance, this penalty should motivate Cham-Cal to clean up the site and deter other dischargers from engaging in similar behavior.”
Because of their continued noncompliance, Cham-Cal and Western Avenue Associates were subject to daily penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation per the California Water Code and the State Water Resources Control Board’s Enforcement Policy. The companies are required to conduct a comprehensive investigation and remediate the contaminated groundwater after the PCE-impacted soil is cleaned up. If their decades- long pattern of noncompliance persists, they could be subject to additional penalties.
Senate Committee Releases Report Detailing Environmental Rollbacks
The Energy and Commerce Committee released a staff report on a report that examines some of the EPA’s most regulatory rollbacks in five key areas – climate change, scientific integrity, environmental justice, clean air and clean water – and highlights the impacts these rollbacks could have on public health. Finally, the report underscores some of the Committee’s efforts to hold the EPA accountable for these actions.
The report details actions the EPA has taken in key issue areas:
  • Ignoring climate change: Through repealing the popular Clean Power Plan, dismantling fuel efficiency standards, rolling back common-sense methane requirements and more, the report outlines the Trump Administration’s parade of climate-denying policies and the ways they will directly harm public health.
  • Sidelining science: The Trump EPA has repeatedly dismissed sound science through restricting the use of scientific research that demonstrates harmful health impacts, using fuzzy math to rig analyses in favor of polluters and undermining scientists themselves.
  • Disregarding environmental justice: The report details the myriad ways in which the Trump Administration has recklessly neglected communities of color and environmental justice communities, despite these communities being disproportionately impacted by pollution.
  • Worsening toxic air: The Trump EPA has systematically dismantled protections against air pollution through undermining critical mercury rules, failing to protect communities from ethylene oxide, and other actions that have been condemned by health and environmental experts.
  • Threatening clean, safe water: Through weakening restrictions on toxic coal ash pollution, refusing to seriously address lead in drinking water, failing to enact protections against PFAS “forever” chemicals and more, the Trump EPA has abandoned its responsibility to ensure Americans’ water is clean and safe to drink.
Colorado Springs Agrees to Improve Stormwater Management per Settlement
The U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA announced a settlement with the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado, to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act with respect to the City’s storm sewer system.
The settlement also includes the State of Colorado as a co-plaintiff, and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and the Board of County Commissioners of the County of Pueblo as plaintiff-intervenors. The improvements made by the city under this settlement will result in significant reductions in the discharge of pollutants, such as sediment, oil and grease, heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, and bacteria, into Fountain Creek and its tributaries in Colorado Springs. Communities downstream of Colorado Springs will also see significant water quality improvements from the settlement.
The Department of Justice, the EPA and the State of Colorado alleged claims against the City of Colorado Springs in an amended complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on Jan. 26, 2017. The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, and the Board of County Commissioners of the County of Pueblo were joined as plaintiffs on Feb. 16, 2017. The amended complaint generally alleged that the City of Colorado Springs violated its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for its municipal stormwater management program by failing to require the installation and maintenance of stormwater management structures at residential and commercial developments. The complaint also alleged that the city failed to enforce requirements to prevent polluted stormwater from running off active construction sites.
The city has since taken significant steps to improve its stormwater management program. The proposed settlement requires the city to take additional actions, including developing standard operating procedures and increased staff training for critical elements of its stormwater management program. In addition, under the settlement the city will capture the volume of stormwater that was required to be captured under the city’s NPDES permit using an innovative approach that identifies capacity needs and the appropriate locations for adding capacity on a watershed basis. The proposed settlement also requires the city to mitigate the damage to Fountain Creek and its tributaries through stream restoration projects. These projects could include habitat restoration, channel restoration, constructed wetlands and similar projects intended to reduce stormwater pollutants entering Fountain Creek or its tributaries. The city will spend a total of $11 million on this mitigation. Finally, the City of Colorado Springs will pay a $1 million federal civil penalty. In lieu of paying a civil penalty to the state, the city will perform state-approved supplemental environmental projects valued at $1 million that will improve water quality in the Arkansas River, into which Fountain Creek flows south of the city.
“It is important to maintain the integrity of the Clean Water Act’s storm water program requirements,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Through this settlement the City of Colorado Springs will ensure that the citizens of the City of Colorado Springs have a clean and safe storm water program and that downstream communities will be protected.”
“The EPA appreciates the hard work and cooperation from all the parties, including the City of Colorado Springs, to reach this comprehensive agreement that will avoid further litigation and hasten the actions needed to improve water quality in Fountain Creek and its tributaries,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This innovative settlement, developed through creative problem solving by engineers and scientists with the EPA, the state and the city, will provide the city with the flexibility it needs to attack the problems that have plagued its storm sewer system for two decades in a way that minimizes the burden on its rate payers.”
The City of Colorado Springs’ storm sewer system serves a population of more than 460,000 people and comprises approximately 250 miles of storm water ditches and channels, with more than 690 major outfalls, throughout the City of Colorado Springs. The City of Colorado Springs’ storm sewer system discharges to Monument Creek, Fountain Creek, Camp Creek, Cheyenne Creek, Shooks Run, and other waters within the Arkansas River watershed. The EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, working in partnership, discovered the violations through inspections and follow up investigations of the City of Colorado Springs’ storm sewer program.
Stormwater pollution from municipal storm sewers can be a major contributor to poor water quality in receiving waters. Sediment from stormwater can degrade the quality of water for drinking, wildlife, and the aquatic and riparian ecosystems. Other pollutants, such as oil and grease, heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, and bacteria, also can be entrained in stormwater and discharged by municipal storm sewers into receiving waters, where they degrade water quality.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
Environment Department Issues Notice of Violation to Waste Management of New Mexico, Inc. for Violations at Rio Rancho Landfill
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issued a Notice of Violation to Waste Management of New Mexico, Inc., owners and operators of the Rio Rancho Landfill, for failing to properly classify and document waste that was disposed of in the landfill.
In March 2018, IMH Financial Corporation, operator of a groundwater well site called Rio West located near Rio Rancho, hired Alpha Southwest, Inc., to transport sludge from an earthen surface impoundment at the well site to the Rio Rancho Landfill for disposal.
Sludge is considered a “special waste,” and must undergo specific regulatory testing and meet certain criteria prior to disposal in a solid waste landfill. Pursuant to state rules, the owner or operator of a solid waste facility authorized to accept sludge shall have an approved plan that describes the methods used to obtain representative samples for analysis and to analyze the sludge for the required parameters demonstrating it is not prohibited from disposal, and to document other procedures to ensure proper disposal.
NMED reviewed landfill disposal tickets documenting 51 truckloads – 288 tons – of the waste and determined it was not classified as or disposed of as sludge thus bypassing state rules to ensure prohibited waste was not disposed of in a solid waste landfill.
Waste Management of New Mexico, Inc. must remedy the violations and provide certified documentation of the actions they have taken, or plan to take, to prevent recurrence in the future. Failure to assure corrective action or continued non-compliance may result in additional enforcement action.
Hospital Floors Are Hotspot for Bacteria, Creating Route of Transfer to Patients
The floors of hospital rooms are quickly and frequently contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria within hours of patient admission, creating a route of transfer of potentially dangerous organisms to patients, according to a study published as part of the proceedings from Decennial 2020: The Sixth International Conference on Healthcare-Associated Infections.
"If bacteria stayed on floors this wouldn't matter, but we're seeing clear evidence that these organisms are transferred to patients, despite our current control efforts," said Curtis Donskey, MD, senior author of the study and hospital epidemiologist at the Cleveland VA Medical Center. "Hand hygiene is critical, but we need to develop practical approaches to reduce underappreciated sources of pathogens to protect patients."
Researchers with the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System closely tracked contamination in hospital rooms of 17 newly admitted patients to identify the timing and route of transfer of bacteria within patients' rooms. Before testing, rooms were thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and all patients screened negative for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other healthcare-associated bacteria. Researchers then observed patients' interactions with healthcare personnel and portable equipment, collecting cultures one-to-three times per day from patients, their socks, beds and other high-touch surfaces, as well as key sections of the floor.
Nearly half of rooms tested positive for MRSA within the first 24 hours, and MRSA, C. difficile, and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) pathogens were identified in 58% of patient rooms within four days of admission. Contamination often started on the floors, but ultimately moved to patients' socks, bedding, and nearby surfaces.
"While we're showing that these scary sounding bugs can make their way into a patient's room and near them, not everyone who encounters a pathogen will get an infection," said Sarah Redmond, lead author and a medical student at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "With that in mind, are there simple ways to address these areas of exposure without placing too much emphasis on the risk?"
In a related study published in August in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the authors reported similar findings of frequent detection of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid on floors and on shoes of personnel on a COVID-19 ward. The authors note that further research is needed to clarify the role of floor contamination in transmission of both bacterial and viral pathogens and to identify practical approaches to address contamination. On the COVID-19 ward, contamination was reduced with simple modifications of floor cleaning and disinfection protocols.
Researchers noted several limitations of the study, including the small sample size and variables in characteristics among patients and healthcare personnel that may impact how generalizable the study findings are to other hospitals.
Lovelace Biomedical Research Institute Cited for Insufficient Financial Assurance at Radioactive Facility
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issued an administrative compliance order to Lovelace Biomedical Research Institute (LBRI) for failing to provide financial assurance sufficient to cover the cost of decommissioning radioactive materials at the facility and for failing to maintain records important to the decommissioning of the facility. The facility is located on a privately- owned parcel of land which is accessed through Kirtland Air Force Base.
To remedy the violations, LBRI must immediately increase its financial assurance from $1,500,000.00 to $8,485,253.00 and provide the requested records to NMED in order to comply with the New Mexico Radiation Protection Act, NMSA 1978, Sections 74-3-1 to -16 (1953, as amended through 2003); the New Mexico Radiation Protection Regulations, 20.3 NMAC; and with the terms and conditions of LBRI’s New Mexico Radioactive Material License. The violations must be remedied within 45 days.
NMED has attempted to obtain the needed financial assurance and documentation from the facility for many years without success. Insufficient funds to decommission the facility – which involves properly moving or disposing of radioactive materials when a facility closes – or to properly manage a release of radioactive materials possessed at the facility present potential risks to public health and the environment. NMED’s administrative compliance order rightfully ensures that New Mexicans will not bear the financial burden to decommission the LBRI facility when that time comes.
LBRI may contest the administrative compliance order and request a public hearing. If contested, NMED indicated that the agency will vigorously defend the administrative compliance order on behalf of New Mexicans.
Safeway Fined for Chemical Safety Violations at Ice Cream Facility
EPA announced a final agreement with Safeway, Inc. over violations of federal chemical safety law at Safeway’s ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturing facility in Phoenix. The violations pertain to chemical release prevention and reporting requirements Safeway will pay a $268,406 civil penalty.
“Preventing accidental releases is paramount in our mission to protect human health and the environment,” said John Busterud, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the country’s Pacific Southwest. “This settlement ensures Safeway takes appropriate steps to make its facilities safer for neighboring communities.”
In 2019, EPA inspectors found violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan regulations at the Phoenix Safeway facility. The violations focused on a failure to meet the Clean Air Act’s risk management program requirements for its anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system.
Safeway’s risk management program failed to:
  • Implement recommended process hazard findings.
  • Comply with process safety information requirements.
  • Have appropriate pipe and instrument labeling.
  • Document operating procedures.
  • Identify management of change procedures.
  • Ensure process equipment is constructed, installed, and maintained properly.
Thousands of facilities nationwide make, use and store extremely hazardous substances, such as anhydrous ammonia. Catastrophic accidents at these facilities—historically about 150 each year—result in fatalities, serious injuries, evacuations, and other harm to human health and the environment. Anhydrous ammonia is a toxic chemical that is highly corrosive to skin, eyes, and lungs. In addition to paying the civil penalty as part of the settlement, Safeway is addressing the violations at both facilities.
The facility was inspected as part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to reduce the risk to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of accidental releases at anhydrous ammonia refrigeration facilities and other facilities that store and use hazardous chemicals.
For more information on the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan Program and EPA’s work related to hazardous chemicals, please visit these websites:
$1.5 Million Penalty for RMP Violations
EPA has reached an agreement with Apache Nitrogen Products, Inc. to resolve federal civil environmental violations of the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention measures and of federal laws requiring timely notification of chemical accidents. EPA identified these violations following an anhydrous ammonia release that led to thirteen workers being injured at the Apache Nitrogen Products facility in St. David, Arizona. Apache Nitrogen Products, which uses anhydrous ammonia to manufacture ammonium nitrate-based explosives for mining operations and agricultural fertilizers, will pay a $1.5 million civil penalty and make widespread safety improvements to its facility, some of which have already been implemented.
“Accidental releases of anhydrous ammonia can be extremely dangerous. To prevent the risk of accidental releases, companies must manage their chemicals safely,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We are pleased that Apache Nitrogen Products will make significant safety improvements as a result of today’s enforcement action.”
EPA’s inspections in 2015 and 2017 were prompted by the company’s release of more than 52,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia while offloading a railcar in June 2014. During the investigation, EPA found violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program regulations, including deficiencies in the plant’s hazard assessment, process safety information, operating procedures, mechanical integrity program, compliance audits, and emergency response program. The release injured twelve employees and one contractor, including seven who needed off-site medical evaluation, and also required the evacuation of employees.
While EPA’s investigation of the 2014 release was ongoing, Apache Nitrogen Products had an additional release of anhydrous ammonia in August 2015 due to the facility’s ineffective preventive maintenance program. The company then failed to immediately notify the National Response Center and state and local authorities, in violation of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, ultimately reporting the release several hours after it occurred.
Under the terms of the settlement, the company has agreed to enhance safety equipment and procedures at the St. David facility, including making improvements to its preventive maintenance tracking system to ensure equipment is being inspected and tested regularly, conducting an audit of its process safety culture with the assistance of a third-party expert, and upgrading its emergency response plan to include installation of an anhydrous ammonia monitoring system and enhanced public notifications. The company has also replaced or upgraded equipment to improve accident prevention.
This case is part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative to reduce risks of accidental releases at chemical manufacturing facilities. Proper implementation of a risk management plan helps facilities that store large amounts of regulated hazardous substances prevent and prepare for chemical accidents. Apache Nitrogen Products uses large quantities of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical highly corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs.
The consent decree for this settlement was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona by the U.S. Department of Justice and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
Bed, Bath & Beyond to Pay $1.49 Million in Settlement of Hazardous Waste Violations
District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, along with 30 other California District Attorneys and the Los Angeles City Attorney, announced a $1.49 million settlement against New Jersey-based Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. to resolve allegations that the company violated state laws governing hazardous waste.
The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement lawsuit filed last month in Ventura County Superior Court claiming that more than 200 Bed Bath & Beyond stores throughout the state (including Cost Plus, buybuy BABY, Harmon, Harmon Face Values, World Market, and Cost Plus World Market stores) unlawfully handled, transported and disposed of batteries, electronic devices, ignitable liquids, aerosol products, cleaning agents, and other flammable, reactive, toxic, and corrosive materials, at local landfills that were not permitted to receive those wastes.
“The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office remains committed to protecting the natural resources of the county and the state. When businesses, large or small, illegally dispose of hazardous waste, not only do they violate the law, but they put the environment at risk,” states DA O’Malley. “We will not stand idly by while corporations disregard the safety and well-being of the environment.”
The investigation was initiated by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office after a fire broke out on December 24, 2015 at the City of Oxnard’s Del Norte Transfer Facility in a load of store waste from the trash compactor of the Oxnard Bed Bath and Beyond store. The bagged store waste burst into flames when a city employee used a front-end loader to spread the freshly dumped trash pile. Investigation recovered numerous items of regulated waste, including several electronic items and hazardous waste, including lithium batteries and a small can of lighter fluid. About four months later, on April 14, 2016, a second fire broke out in the trash compactor attached to rear of the Oxnard Bed Bath & Beyond store. After that fire was extinguished, investigators inspected the waste and again and discovered numerous items of regulated waste, including batteries, broken compact fluorescent bulbs and various discarded electronic devices.
Following the Ventura County incidents, inspectors from the Environmental Unit of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, along with other district attorney, city attorney, and local environmental regulatory officials, conducted a series of undercover inspections of Bed Bath & Beyond store waste around the state. These inspections, and other investigation, revealed that Bed Bath & Beyond had been sending regulated hazardous wastes from stores to local landfills throughout California. There are eight Bed Bath and Beyond stores in Alameda County and District Attorney inspectors conducted waste inspections of the trash from four of those stores. The waste inspections revealed that three of the four stores were unlawfully disposing of hazardous waste.
When notified of the investigation, Bed Bath and Beyond took steps to cooperate and to dedicate additional resources towards environmental compliance and improving its existing regulated-waste management program, including by performing regular self-audits of its compactors and waste bins in California.
Under the final judgment, Bed Bath & Beyond must pay $1,327,500 in civil penalties and as reimbursement of investigation and prosecution costs, and an additional $171,250 to fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental enforcement in California. The retailer will also be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.
Safely Get Your EHS Training at Home or in Your Office
To help you get the training you need, Environmental Resource Center has added a number of dates to our already popular live webcast training. Stay in compliance and learn the latest regulations from the comfort of your office or home. Webcast attendees receive the same benefits as our seminar attendees including expert instruction, comprehensive course materials, one year of access to our AnswerlineTM service, course certificate, and a personalized user portal on Environmental Resource Center’s website.
Upcoming hazardous waste and DOT hazardous materials webcasts:
Hazardous Waste Management: Annual Update – November 17, December 15
DOT Hazardous Materials Update – November 18, December 16
Environmental Resource Center Update
The health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and our communities is what matters most to all of us. To continue to serve you, our seminars have been converted to live online webcasts. You can find a list of upcoming live webcasts at this link.
If you have enrolled in a seminar through December, in most cases the seminar will be held on approximately the same dates and at the same times via online webcast. We will contact you by phone or email regarding the details on how to attend the class. On-site training and consulting services are proceeding as usual. If you wish to convert these to remote services, please call your Environmental Resource Center representative or customer service at 800-537-2372.
Because many of our live and on-site training sessions have been postponed or canceled, we have staff available to assist you in coping with COVID-19 as well as your routine EHS requirements. If you have EHS staff that have been quarantined, we can provide remote assistance to help you meet your ongoing environmental and safety compliance requirements. For details, call 800-537-2372 x 224.
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 brian@ercweb.com.
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