EPA is releasing a revised assessment of the cumulative risks of organophosphate pesticides, and is making the document available for public comment and scientific peer review of the methodologies used in its development. With this groundbreaking work, EPA is nearing completion of a process to evaluate over a thousand organophosphate pesticide food tolerances (legal residue limits), virtually all of which are expected to meet the highest, most rigorous safety standards.
"Preliminary results from this scientific assessment provide good news for American consumers," said Stephen L. Johnson, EPA's Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances. "After years of effort to develop the scientific methodologies to conduct this sort of sophisticated risk assessment, the conclusions strongly support a high level of confidence in the safety of the food supply," he continued.
The announcement is another major milestone representing years of scientific work, numerous scientific and public meetings, and a thorough regulatory process to ensure these pesticide tolerances meet the tough food safety standard called for in the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. In the last several years, EPA has taken a variety of regulatory actions on the organophosphates pesticides, ranging from lowering application rates to complete cancellation of specific uses. These actions have substantially reduced the risks, and have contributed to the high level of safety found in the cumulative risk assessment. The revised assessment underscores EPA's continued confidence in the overall safety of the nation's food supply and the benefits of eating a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
The cumulative risk assessment methodologies, developed since 1996 with extensive expert scientific peer-review and public involvement, represents a significant advance in EPA's ability to assess risks stemming from potential exposure to pesticides. The Agency is still working to evaluate certain food and residential uses of individual organophosphates where additional risk mitigation will likely be necessary. In the next several weeks, EPA will continue the scientific and regulatory work to evaluate and address these potential risks. In addition, the cumulative exposure assessment shows that drinking water is not a significant contributor to overall risk.
In this risk assessment, EPA has evaluated potential exposures to 30 organophosphates, taking into account food, drinking water and residential uses. EPA has employed methodologies to account for variability in potential exposures based on age, seasonal and geographic factors. The assessment relied on a large variety of data sources, such as monitoring data that measure pesticide residues found in food, in order to obtain the most realistic estimates of actual exposure to the population from organophosphate pesticides. The assessment includes consideration of the FQPA safety factor for protecting sensitive populations, including infants and children. In addition, issuance of this document meets EPA's legal obligations under the Natural Resources Defense Council consent decree for issuing a revised cumulative risk assessment for the organophosphate pesticides.
To ensure a participatory process, EPA is continuing to solicit input from the scientific community and other interested stakeholders about the scientific methods used in the revised assessment, and the Agency will accept public comments for 30 days. EPA has scheduled a public technical briefing to explain the risk assessment methodologies on Thursday, June 18 (for more information see: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ "Upcoming Meetings"). The Agency has also scheduled a meeting of the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel, an advisory committee of independent scientific expert peer reviewers, on June 25-28. More information on this meeting is available at http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/. EPA will evaluate SAP comments as well as other comments or data received and will modify this assessment as appropriate. As existing analyses are revised or new information becomes available, EPA will review this assessment and make further changes as appropriate.
The Executive Summary, Questions and Answers, Summaries, as well
as the detailed Scientific Chapters, will be available at
- June 23, 2002 - Existing facilities subject to the national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants from pesticide active ingredient production facilities must comply with Subpart MMM of 40 CFR 63
- June 30, 2002 - HAZMAT registration due
FLORIDA MAN, VIRGINIA REAL ESTATE FIRM PLEAD GUILTY TO CAA VIOLATIONS
David Stephens Klein of Heathrow, Fla., and the Davold Real Estate Partnership of Staunton, Va., pleaded guilty on May 28 to violating the Clean Air Act in Staunton. Klein pleaded guilty to illegally disposing of asbestos-containing material from the Masonic Building and Davold pleaded guilty to illegally removing asbestos at the Towne Center. Klein, a medical doctor who previously ran clinics in the Shenandoah Valley, operated buildings in Staunton owned by the Davold Real Estate Partnership, a property management company. Workers untrained in the proper removal of asbestos were used to remove asbestos from pipes and boilers and were not provided with property safety equipment. The asbestos was dumped at the Augusta County landfill and various other sites in and around Staunton.
Failure to use appropriate safety equipment and properly remove and dispose of asbestos can lead to the inhalation of asbestos fibers, which is a cause of lung cancer, a lung disease known as "asbestosis", and mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities.
When sentenced, Klein faces a maximum penalty of up to five years
in prison and/or a $250,000 fine and Davold a fine of up to
$500,000. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal
Investigation Division and the Staunton Police Department with
the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations
Center and EPA Region III. It is being prosecuted by the U.S.
Attorney's office in Charlottesville and the Environmental Crimes
Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
EPA ANNOUNCES STEPS TO INCREASE ENERGY EFFICIENCY, ENCOURAGE EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS
Acting on the broad-based, bipartisan call for improving the New Source Review (NSR) program, EPA submitted a report on NSR and recommendations for reform to President Bush to encourage pollution prevention projects, energy efficiency improvements, and investments in new technologies and modernization of facilities.
EPA's review found that the NSR program has impeded or resulted in the cancellation of projects that would maintain or improve reliability, efficiency or safety of existing power plants and refineries. There is overwhelming support for reform from a diverse group of people and organizations.
The improvements that EPA is recommending are the culmination of a 10-year process. During this period, EPA implemented pilot studies and received thousands of comments from state and local governments, environmental groups, private sector representatives and concerned citizens. Over the past year, EPA met with more than100 environmental and consumer groups and public officials from across the political spectrum, held public meetings around the country, and evaluated more than 130,000 written comments to assess the effect of NSR on the energy sector. Last summer, the nation's governors and the state environmental commissioners ? on a bipartisan basis ? called for reform of the NSR program. The report and recommendations support this call for NSR reform.
"EPA is taking actions now to improve NSR and thereby encourage emissions reductions," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "NSR is a valuable program in many respects but the need for reform is clear and has broad-based support. Our review clearly established that some aspects of the NSR program have deterred companies from implementing projects that would increase energy efficiency and decrease air pollution."
The following reforms that EPA is moving to finalize were originally proposed during the previous Administration in 1996 and have been subjected to extensive technical review and public comment:
- Pollution Control and Prevention Projects: To encourage
pollution prevention, EPA will create a simplified process for
companies that undertake environmentally beneficial projects. NSR
currently discourages investments in pollution control and
prevention projects, even if they reduce overall emissions.
- Plantwide Applicability Limits (PALs): To provide facilities
with greater flexibility to modernize their operations without
increasing air pollution, a facility would agree to operate
within strict site-wide emissions caps called PALs. PALs provide
clarity, certainty and superior environmental protection.
- Clean Unit Provision: To encourage the installation of
state-of-the-art air pollution controls, EPA will give plants
that install "clean units" operational flexibility if they
continue to operate within permitted limits. Clean units must
have an NSR permit or other regulatory limit that requires the
use of the best air pollution control technologies.
- Calculating Emissions Increases and Establishing Actual
Emissions Baseline: Currently, the NSR program estimates
emissions increases based upon what a plant would emit if
operated 24 hours a day, year-round. This makes it impossible to
make certain modest changes in a facility without triggering NSR,
even if those changes will not actually increase emissions. This
common-sense reform will require EPA to evaluate how much a
facility will actually emit after the proposed change. Also, to
more accurately measure actual emissions, account for variations
in business cycles, and clarify what may be a "more
representative" period, facilities will be allowed to use any
consecutive 24-month period in the previous decade as a baseline,
as long as all current control requirements are taken into
EPA is also proposing three new reforms that will go through new rulemaking and public comment processes before they are finalized. These include:
- Routine Maintenance, Repair and Replacement: To increase
environmental protection and promote the implementation of
necessary repair and replacement projects, EPA will clarify the
definition of "routine" repairs. NSR excludes repairs and
maintenance activities that are "routine," but a complex analysis
must currently be used to determine what repairs meet that
standard. This has deterred companies from conducting needed
repairs, resulting in unnecessary emissions of pollution and
hazardous conditions at these plants. EPA is proposing guidelines
for particular industries to clearly establish what activities
meet this standard.
"The NSR program needs to be clarified to adequately define the concept of "routine maintenance" to avoid the regulatory uncertainty facing industry. Such clarification would allow companies to repair their facilities and maintain reliable and safe electric service for consumers and workers without being subject to the threat of federal government lawsuits for allegedly violating vague NSR requirements." ? Letter to Administrator Whitman, May 13, 2002, from a bipartisan group of 26 Senators.
- Debottlenecking: EPA is proposing a rule to clarify how NSR
applies when a company modifies one part of a facility in such a
way that throughput in other parts of the facility increases
(i.e., implements a "debottlenecking" project). Under the current
rules, determining whether NSR applies to such complex projects
is difficult and can be time consuming.
- Aggregation: Currently, when multiple projects are implemented
in a short period of time, a difficult and complex analysis must
be performed to determine if the projects should be treated
separately or together (i.e., "aggregated") under NSR. EPA's
proposal will establish two criteria that will guide this
"Reforming NSR will promote energy efficiency, plant safety and modernization at refineries, power plants, and other industrial facilities across the country," said Administrator Whitman. "Our common commitment to environmental protection need not be an obstacle to having the most modern and efficient energy infrastructure in the world. Unfortunately, some elements of NSR have discouraged modernization and the development of new technologies. These reforms will bring clarity and greater opportunities for pollution prevention and energy efficiency."
To see a copy of the report and recommendations as well as other
information on the New Source Review program, visit EPA's website
EPA PROPOSAL PUBLISHED CONCERNING MERCURY CONTAINING EQUIPMENT AND CATHODE RAY TUBES
Mercury is contained in several types of instruments that include barometers, meters, temperature gauges, pressure gauges, sprinkler system contacts, etc. EPA has received data on mercury-containing equipment since 1995, when it issued the first federal universal waste rule. The Agency believes that adding mercury-containing devices to the universal waste stream will facilitate better management of this waste.
The universal waste rule tailors management requirements to the nature of the waste in order to encourage collection (including household collections) and proper management. Universal waste generators, collectors, and transporters must follow specific recordkeeping, storage and transportation requirements. The Agency is proposing the same tailored requirements for mercury-containing equipment. Final disposal and recycling requirements remain unchanged
To encourage more reuse and recycling, intact Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) being sent for possible reuse are considered to be products rather than waste, and therefore not regulated unless they are being disposed of. If CRT handlers disassemble the CRTs and send the glass for recycling, EPA is also proposing to exclude them from the definition of solid waste, provided they comply with simplified storage, labeling, and transportation requirements. Additionally, the Agency believes that if broken CRTs are properly containerized and labeled when stored or shipped before recycling, they resemble commodities more than waste. Finally, processed glass being sent to a CRT glass manufacturer or a lead smelter is excluded from hazardous waste management under most conditions. If the glass is being sent to any other kind of recycler, it must be packaged and labeled the same as broken CRTs.
A link to the June 12, 2002 proposed rule is located below:
SHIP'S CHIEF ENGINEER PLEADS GUILTY TO OIL POLLUTION IN ALASKA WATERS
Je Yong Lee, Chief Engineer of the motor vessel Soho (M/V Soho) pleaded guilty on May 28 to keeping and presenting a false oil record book, obstructing a federal investigation and telling crew members to lie to a federal grand jury in Anchorage, Alaska. The M/V Soho is a Panamanian flagged freighter that is owned by a Korean company named Oswego Limited. It carries seafood to Asia. Lee was the vessel's chief engineer in charge of engine room operations. During a Coast Guard inspection in February, inspectors found hose that they suspected was used to bypass the ship's oil water separator, a pollution control device that limits the amount of oil a ship discharges into the ocean. Lee admitted in his plea that he knowingly recorded false information in the ship's oil record book, thus failing to indicate that the bypass hose was used to directly discharge oil-contaminated bilge water and oily sludge into the ocean during the ship's passage from Japan to Alaska. In addition, Lee admitted that he instructed engine room crew members to lie to a federal grand jury about the use of the bypass hose.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Lee faces a maximum
sentence of up to 33-months in prison. The case was investigated
by the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA's Criminal Investigation Division
and the FBI with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement
Investigations Center. It is being prosecuted by the U.S.
Attorney's office in Anchorage and the Environmental Crimes
Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
EPA DOCKETS NOW ONLINE
EPA announced the availability of a new electronic public docket and comment system designed to greatly expand access to EPA's public dockets, and facilitate the submission of public comments to EPA, providing an unprecedented level of online access to EPA's programs and rulemaking processes. Known as EPA Dockets, this online system will allow you to search the Agency's major public dockets online, view the index listing of the contents for the dockets included in the system, and access those materials that are available online. You will be able to submit your comments online when a particular public docket available in EPA Dockets is open for public comments, and you will be able to view public comments online for that docket. This new capability will be a valuable tool to support the Agency's regulatory process by enabling more efficient access to EPA's rulemaking development process, and will create a new means for the Agency to share other non-rulemaking information for comment purposes. This capability will enable Agency rulemakers and decision-makers to carry out their responsibilities more efficiently. It will greatly enhance the public's access to the materials used in EPA's decision-making process, simplify electronic commenting, and access to the public comments in those public dockets available in EPA Dockets.
Information concerning the new electronic public docket can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm