The EPA has approved an amendment to Pennsylvania's smog control plan, including requirements for reductions in paint fumes that contribute to air quality problems.
The amendment was recently approved to comply with the deadline set in a January 2003 settlement agreement with environmental groups. The groups had mounted a court challenge to the EPA's decision to designate the seven-county Pittsburgh region as in compliance with the federal health standard for ozone, the principal component of smog.
The amendment to the State Implementation Plan, sought by Earthjustice for the Group Against Smog and Pollution and the Sierra Club, also requires that the state put contingency plans into effect for reducing unhealthy emissions from portable fuel containers, industrial solvent users, and household goods.
GE's Winchester Lamp Plant Ahead of its Peers in Recycling Race
On September 28th, 2004 General Electric's Winchester Lamp Plant in Winchester, VA received recognition from Maria Vickers, Deputy Director of EPA's Office of Solid Waste, for being the first site in the Northern Shenandoah Valley to enroll in the voluntary national partnership for environmental priorities. The partnership program calls for industry and business to voluntarily reduce chemical pollutants.
GE's plant committed to the gradual substitution of lead-based solder used in the manufacturing process with a tin-based alloy solder to reduce the quantity of lead in waste by 50 percent. "As a member of the greater Winchester community, the GE Winchester Lamp Plant has taken steps to go above and beyond environmental compliance. The business is committed to finding new and innovative ways to reduce pollution while still making a great product and earning a profit. That is no small effort," said Vickers.
The Winchester plant has been in the forefront of waste minimization, cutting lead, and other solid wastes, by 410,000 pounds through the incorporation of more stringent recycling quotas. According to Tad Radzinski, an Environmental Engineer in EPA Region 3 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), the reductions save both the environment and the participating industry's fund as waste minimization increases production, improves a company's image, and increases profits.
EPA's goal is to work with industry and the public to reduce the presence of the 30 priority chemicals in hazardous waste by 50 percent by the year 2005, compared to amounts generated in 1991.
New Jersey DEP Begins UST Compliance Inspection Program
Anybody who owns or operates a regulated Underground Storage Tank (UST) in New Jersey is subject to this initiative which includes, but is not limited to, gas stations, public works fuel depots, USTs containing hazardous substances at manufacturing facilities, and fuel oil tanks with a capacity greater than 2,000 gallons for non-residential buildings.
This also affects anybody transporting or delivering fuels and other hazardous substances to regulated USTs. The UST rules (N.J.A.C. 7:14B) specifically prohibit delivery if an UST is not properly registered with the DEP or is known or suspected to be leaking.
The primary goal of this initiative, funded through a Constitutional Amendment approved by New Jersey voters in 2003, is to reduce the number of releases from regulated UST systems. Numerous past releases from regulated USTs have resulted in soil, ground water and air contamination in every county in New Jersey. Prevention of ground water contamination with the potential to affect drinking water supplies and surface water quality is of particular concern.
DEP is establishing a group of 18 state and county inspectors to conduct compliance inspections at each facility once every three years. In particular, the inspection staff will be checking the most significant requirements, including, but not limited to:
1. Tank registration and registration accuracy
2. Release Detection Monitoring (a.k.a. leak detection)
3. Corrosion Protection (steel UST system components)
4. Spill Prevention
5. Overfill Protection
6. System Inspection Requirements
7. Financial Responsibility (aka financial assurance)
Owners and operators who fail to register their tank systems and obtain a valid registration certificate will be subject to the establishment of a delivery ban or a cease use action for their tanks and substantial fines and penalties. Owners and operators who fail to comply with operational requirements found in N.J.A.C. 7:14B-1 et seq. will be subject to substantial fines and penalties. Owners and operators who are operating tank systems that are releasing hazardous substances to the environment shall be subject to a cease use action and will be subject to substantial fines and penalties.
Transporters that deliver to unregistered USTs will be subject to substantial fines and penalties.
The contact for DEP enforcement issues is Jonathan Berg at 609-633-0737. See the NJ DEP website for additional information.
Non-Binding Environmental Guidance Documents
EPA has made available on its web site a repository of non-binding general policy, guidance, and interpretive documents that describe how the Agency intends to exercise its discretionary authority and explains what a statute or regulation means.
This collection presently contains only non-binding guidance materials issued by EPA Headquarters offices and does not include materials released by EPA regional offices. The collection presently contains guidance documents issued since January 1, 1999. The collection may not include all guidance documents issued during this period. If EPA identifies additional guidance documents, EPA will add them to the collection.
These materials are integral to the implementation and enforcement of the Agency's regulatory programs and we hope their availability will assist you in understanding our regulations and statutory requirements. Subsequent to this initial release, the Agency plans to review and release active documents covering our regulatory programs including materials provided from EPA Regional Offices.
This collection has been developed to assist state and tribal officials, representatives of companies and organizations that must comply with environmental regulations, and individuals that are concerned with how environmental regulations and statutes are being implemented or enforced. The goal is that, through one central interface to a collection of guidance materials, it will be easier for an individual or institution to understand what guidance is available when complying with environmental regulations
ENERGY STAR Helps Heat Homes More Efficiently
As temperatures drop this fall, the EPA is encouraging Americans to save energy, reduce utility bills and protect the environment by increasing the energy efficiency of their home heating systems. With ENERGY STAR, homeowners can save up to 20 percent on annual energy costs by making energy-efficient improvements to their heating and cooling systems.
The average household spends $1,500 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. The EPA estimates that if one in 10 U.S. households used heating and cooling equipment that has earned the ENERGY STAR label, the change would prevent an estimated 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
Sealing leaks that allow air to escape the home and replacing old heating equipment with high-efficiency models can significantly reduce annual energy costs. Other steps also cut costs and improve comfort: tuning up heating and cooling equipment annually; regularly replacing the air filters; checking and sealing the duct system; and using a programmable thermostat's multiple temperature settings to get the most savings.
The EPA's Guide to Energy-Efficient Cooling and Heating provides timely information and more details about how to save energy and money this winter, while helping to protect the environment. It can be found at: http://www.energystar.gov/hvacguide.
When heating equipment reaches 15 or more years of age, EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommend that homeowners consider a more energy-efficient replacement. Many furnaces, heat pumps, boilers and thermostats meet ENERGY STAR's strict standards for energy efficiency set by the EPA and DOE.
More than 9,000 organizations have become ENERGY STAR partners and are committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes and businesses. For more information about ENERGY STAR and additional steps to save money and reduce air pollution, call 1-888-STAR-YES or visit: http://www.energystar.gov.
Landlord Fined for Lead-based Paint Violations
The EPA has settled a complaint against Ivan Zugalj for allegedly failing to warn tenants that their homes may contain lead-based paint hazards. The Chicago landlord and owner of apartment buildings on Chicago's south side, will pay a $150,000 penalty.
The complaint was a result of joint investigations by EPA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) into compliance by Chicago area landlords with federal laws requiring them to notify tenants about the presence of lead-based paint and its hazards. Information and technical expertise was provided by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CPDH).
Investigations showed that Zugalj failed to disclose lead-based paint hazards to tenants and provide copies of lead-based paint hazard orders he received from CDPH. The orders resulted from the department's investigations of lead-poisoned children residing in Zugalj's properties.
The disclosure rule was issued in 1996 by EPA and HUD to protect families, especially those with children, from hazards of lead-based paint in the home. Real estate companies and property owners must provide buyers and renters with information on lead- based paint, including a lead warning statement and a pamphlet. They must also disclose if lead-based paint is known to be present before the close of a sale or signing of a rental agreement. This applies to residences built before 1978, the year the sale of lead-based paint was banned.
According to the CDPH, more than 6,800 Chicago children under the age of six were diagnosed with lead poisoning in 2003. Deteriorated lead-based paint is the most common source of lead exposure to children in the United States. About 75 percent of the nation's housing built before 1978 contains lead-based paint. When properly managed, lead-based paint poses little risk. If it is not maintained, even low levels of lead exposure can threaten people's health, especially children and pregnant women. The effects of lead poisoning include learning disabilities, growth impairment, and permanent damage to the brain, nervous system, hearing, vision and kidneys.
Proposal to Pump Greenhouse Gas Under Sea
British environmental minister Elliot Morley recently unveiled proposals to store tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide under the seabed in a dramatic attempt to tackle global warming.
Speaking at a London Convention, Morley asked the world's leading industrial nations to support a dramatic plan for developing underground reservoirs of carbon dioxide around the globe by utilizing disused oil fields and old water sources in the earthÆs surface.
Ministers believe that the proposal, which has infuriated some environmentalists, has been given increasing urgency by the latest scientific studies. The studies warn that the effects of climate change are accelerating, and that they pose fresh problems for the environment.
Professor David King, chief scientist for the British government, warned earlier this month that there had been a sudden and unexplained jump in CO2 levels in the atmosphere over the past two years. King argued that this increased the risk of a sudden surge in global warming. Scientists also fear that man-made CO2 is making the seas more acidic, which could result in the killing off of plankton and coral reefs.
Morley suggested that storing CO2 in the seabed through a technique known as carbon sequestration could help to make deep cuts in the UK's emissions of the gas. The revolutionary technique involves pumping liquefied carbon dioxide at high pressure from places such as coal- and gas-fired power stations along pipes on the ocean floor.
Experts backing the proposal claim that the UK could technically store all its carbon emissions in exhausted oil and gas fields in the North Sea for over a century. They assert that the gas will be trapped safely in the bedrock for tens of thousands of years or more, potentially long enough for the human race to stop and even reverse global warming and to find a long-term alternative to the use of fossil fuels. Similar projects around the world could theoretically hold all man-made carbon emissions.
The technique is already being tested in the North Sea by Norway and by the US government. However, environmental groups such as Greenpeace claim the plan is technically unproven, and suggest that the plan is a distraction from the real necessity of cutting back global usage of oil, gas and coal.
CAA Particulate Matter Science Review Document Available
The EPA has released the final scientific assessment document on airborne particulate matter, entitled Air Quality Criteria for Particulate Matter. Particulate matter (PM) is one of six principal or criteria pollutants for which EPA has established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) under the Clean Air Act. In accordance with the requirements of the CAA, EPA periodically reviews the scientific basis for these standards. This document provides significant new information for the technical and policy assessments of EPAÆs review of the standards.
The document also includes an analysis of a significant amount of new scientific literature generated since the NAAQS for PM were revised in 1997. This final assessment document has been subjected to expert scientific peer review by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, a review committee mandated by the Clean Air Act and part of the EPAÆs Science Advisory Board.
Information on the new Criteria Document, PM research and some of the major actions EPA is taking to reduce PM is at the following websites:
The "Air Quality Criteria for Particulate Matter" document is at: http://www.epa.gov/pmresearch.