Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was confirmed and sworn in as the 14th administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to an EPA press release, Administrator Pruitt believes promoting and protecting a strong and healthy environment is one of the lifeblood priorities of the government, and EPA is a vital part of that mission.
Pruitt became a national leader through a career of advocating to keep power in the hands of hardworking Americans. He has a proven record of working with industry, farmers, ranchers, landowners, small business owners, and others to protect our natural resources.
According to the EPA release, Pruitt created policies that serve the people. He strongly believes environmental law, policy, and progress are all based on cooperation among the states, cooperation between the states and EPA, and cooperation between regulators and the public.
As Administrator, Mr. Pruitt will lead EPA in a way that our future generations inherit a better and healthier environment while advancing America’s economic interests. He is committed to working with the thousands of dedicated public servants at EPA who have devoted their careers to helping realize this shared vision, while faithfully administering environmental laws.
Most recently, Administrator Pruitt served as the Attorney General for Oklahoma. He worked with his Democratic counterpart in Arkansas to reach agreement to study the water quality of the Illinois River that crosses between the two states and has been enjoyed by generations of Oklahomans and Arkansans. The Statement of Joint Principles provided for a best science study using EPA-approved methods, with both states agreeing, for the first time, to be bound by the outcome.
During his tenure as Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Mr. Pruitt led an historic water rights settlement between the State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations that preserved the ecosystems of scenic lakes and rivers on native lands. The agreement, which required Congressional approval, was signed into law on December 2016.
The Law provides a framework that fosters intergovernmental collaboration on significant water resource concerns while protecting existing water rights and affirming the State’s role in water rights permitting and administration. Water settlement cases can be lengthy, costly, divisive, and disruptive, however, under Pruitt’s forward thinking leadership the process was hailed by all parties as one of commitment, hard work, perseverance and cooperation.
As Attorney General for Oklahoma, he also led the State’s legal challenges against property rights intrusion while protecting Oklahoma’s natural resources and environment.
Administrator Pruitt is recognized as a national leader in the cause to restore the proper balance between the states and federal government, and established common sense regulations that are fair and provide relief where needed. Before being elected attorney general, he served eight years in the Oklahoma State Senate where he was a leading voice for fiscal responsibility.
After earning his Bachelor’s Degree from Georgetown College and graduating from the University of Tulsa law school, Pruitt went into private legal practice, specializing in Constitutional Law.
In addition to his life as a civil servant, Administrator Pruitt is a successful entrepreneur. As a co-owner and managing general partner of Oklahoma City’s Triple-A minor league baseball affiliate, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, Mr. Pruitt took over the team’s marketing operations and helped the team become one of the league’s leaders in attendance and merchandise sales.
To see Administrator Pruitt’s biography, visit: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epas-administrator
San Jose RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management in California and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in San Jose, CA, on February 28–March 2 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Charlotte RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Charlotte, NC, on February 28–March 2 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Houston RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management in Texas and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Houston, TX, on March 7–9 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Law to Protect Streams from Pollution Overturned
President Trump signed into law a resolution of disapproval eviscerating the Stream Protection Rule, a modest safeguard crafted to protect clean water and the health of communities threatened by coal mining. House and Senate lawmakers voted to overturn the rule using the Congressional Review Act, a seldom-used law that takes the public out of the process by allowing recently finalized regulations to be rolled back virtually overnight with little debate. Many years in the making, the Stream Protection Rule was the first significant update to surface mining regulations in 30 years.
According to the Department of the Interior, industry compliance costs associated with the rule would have amounted to approximately 0.3% of estimated 2015 coal revenues. Environmental groups claim that getting rid of the Stream Protection Rule using the Congressional Review Act will not bring jobs back to the declining coal industry, which is facing numerous bankruptcies due to its failure to compete with other energy sources, not due to protective environmental regulations.
Eighty local and national environmental organizations recently sent an open letter to lawmakers asking them to reject legislative attacks on clean water. Representing millions of members and supporters, the groups decried the rollback of the Stream Protection Rule under the Congressional Review Act as a threat to universal access to clean, safe water.
Washington Issues Almost $400K in Penalties in Fourth Quarter
The Washington Department of Ecology issued $380,900 in penalties of $1,000 or more October through December in 2016. A detailed list of the violations and resulting penalties is available online.
Ecology works with thousands of businesses and individuals to help them comply with state laws. Penalties are issued in cases where non-compliance continues after Ecology has provided technical assistance or warnings, or for particularly serious violations.
The money owed from penalties may be reduced from the issued amount due to settlement or court rulings. Funds collected go to the state’s general fund or to dedicated pollution prevention accounts.
Top penalties for the period include:
Agreed to pay reduced fine for improperly handling mixed dangerous and radioactive waste. The company treats, stores, and disposes of various types of dangerous waste at its north Richland plant. It handles waste from a number of sites, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
East Fisher Quarry
Failed to maintain and implement best management practices to prevent stormwater runoff as outlined in permit and failed to modify Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan as required.
Quil Ceda Tanning Co.
Improperly managed and illegally stored dangerous waste. Under appeal.
Natures Path Foods, USA, Inc.
Discharged acidic wastewater to city’s sewer treatment system over a two-year period. Under appeal.
Pennsylvania DEP Finds Spatial/Temporal Correlation Between Hilcorp Hydraulic Fracturing and Seismic Events
Seismic events that occurred in western Lawrence County on April 25, 2016, had a "marked temporal/spatial relationship" to natural gas hydraulic fracturing by Hilcorp Energy Company, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
“Induced seismicity is a relatively new and complex technical issue,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “This report reflects our commitment to understand what occurred, through extensive review with scientific and industry partners, and to formulate procedures to reduce seismic risk going forward.”
The Pennsylvania Seismic Network registered four low-magnitude earthquakes beginning at 4:17 a.m. in North Beaver, Union, and Mahoning Townships. (OhioSeis recorded three earthquakes, and Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismic Network recorded five.) The final magnitude of the earthquakes ranged from 1.8 to 2.3 on the Richter Scale, putting them in the category of microseismic events, which are likely to go unnoticed by humans and only recorded by sensitive seismic monitors.
Hilcorp's North Beave NC Development well pad, which includes four wells drilled into the Utica Shale Formation, lies within a five-mile radius of the reported epicenters. Hydraulic fracturing activities began at the pad on March 30.
Hilcorp was using a technique known as “zipper fracturing,” or hydraulic fracturing operations that are carried out concurrently at two horizontal wellbores that are parallel and adjacent to each other. When DEP contacted Hilcorp on April 25, the company voluntarily stopped activities and later reported they would discontinue hydraulic fracturing and stimulation operations at the well pad indefinitely.
Recommendations in the DEP report include discontinuation of the practice of zipper fracturing during any future completions when there is less than a ¼ mile between lateral portions of adjacent wellbores. This applies to Hilcorp’s Utica gas wells in North Beaver, Union, and Mahoning Townships. Zipper fracturing is allowed when there is more than ¼ mile distance between lateral portions.
In addition, it is recommended that Hilcorp maintain operation of its own seismic network within these townships. The seismic network will allow for the accurate detection of local, low-magnitude events.
A seismic event reporting schedule and operator response plan is also included in DEP’s recommendations:
- For seismic events of 1.0 or greater magnitude occurring within 6 miles of the wellbore path, the company should notify DEP within 10 minutes via email and within one hour by telephone.
- For any succession of three seismic events of 1.5 to 1.9 magnitude that occurs within a three-consecutive-day period and within a 3-mile radius of the wellbore path, Hilcorp should notify the DEP within 10 minutes via email and within one hour by telephone. Actions taken for this magnitude range of seismic events include suspension of stimulation operations, submittal of seismic data to DEP for review and a plan detailing modifications to stimulation operations.
- Finally, for any seismic event of 2.0 or greater magnitude that occurs within a 3-mile distance of a wellbore path, Hilcorp should notify the DEP within 10 minutes via email and within one hour by telephone. Actions taken include cessation of stimulation operations, flowing back of the well, submittal of seismic data to DEP for review and a plan detailing any potential modification to stimulation operations.
On November 16, 2016, DEP approved a seismic monitoring plan submitted by Hilcorp implementing the recommendations set forth in the DEP report.
DEP has also recommended that these terms apply to any new permits requested by Hilcorp and that other operators follow similar plans within the referenced townships.
See the DEP website for the report, a webinar discussion, and more information on the seismic events.
Live-Tracking Progress Towards Global Goals Now Possible Thanks to a Cutting-Edge UN Knowledge Platform
Environment Live, the dynamic UN knowledge platform, designed to collect, process, and share the world's best environmental science and research, has introduced new tools to review progress towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Built and maintained by UN Environment, the platform provides real-time open data access to policy makers and the general public, using distributed networks, cloud computing, big data, and improved search functions.
From mapping natural capital to forecasting hydropower to intelligent energy and the sustainable use of materials, strong data presently exist in a wide variety of environmental arenas.
The objective is to translate this knowledge into good political and socio-economic decisions that will contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
Indeed, policy making in the dark—under high levels of uncertainty and without concrete data—carries high risks and transactional costs which need to be minimized. End users must be able to access data in a meaningful way.
To that end, Environment Live fills gaps between data providers and consumers. Public access to data is a fundamental element in the transformation to a vibrant green economy.
Better access allows citizens to better understand—and even participate in the collection of—data on environmental changes. Indeed, the role of the public in citizen science, or the crowd-sourcing of data, is one of the most cutting-edge and exciting tools emerging in the global research arena.
Environment Live provides people a greater voice in policy development and monitoring, which is crucial to an inclusive green economy.
Through the platform's applications, multimedia content, and digital publishing tools, users will have access to data from multiple verified sources and data providers.
New features of the tool include:
- Integrated support for assessments and policy decision-making at the global, regional, and country levels
- Access to scientific world data, maps, and graphs desegregated at the regional, national, and local levels and a World Data portal that combines official statistical data obtained from countries and remote sensing satellite imagery. The portal gives access to geospatial information and is supported by a powerful search facility.
- Real time tools for public interaction through communities of practice and access to the latest citizen science and citizen-driven monitoring networks
Through these tools and resources, the platform will support the streamlining of national monitoring, reporting, and verification of data for global and regional environmental goals, including the post-2015 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
UN Environment continues to work with a number of global partners:
- The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs—on implementing frameworks for environmental data and statistics
- The United Nations Statistics Division—on coordinating support to countries to improve access to information
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization on integrated indicators for the sustainable development goals
Together with these partners and the UN regional offices UN Environment advises, which environmental data sets should be prioritized for collection and sharing with the public.
Producer Responsibility Programs Increase Recycling, Save Money, Create Jobs, and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
An innovative approach to recycling in Connecticut that involves support from industries that produce and sell various products is increasing recycling, reducing trash disposal costs for cities and towns, creating jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions linked to Climate Change.
The report, “Connecticut Extended Producer Responsibility Program Evaluation: Summary and Recommendations,” focused on so-called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs for the collection and recycling of used or unwanted electronics equipment, thermostats, paint, and mattresses.
Prepared by the Product Stewardship Institute (PRI) for Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the report found:
- The four EPR programs diverted more than 26 million lb of material from waste, yielded a cumulative cost savings of more than $2.6 million per year to Connecticut municipalities, and industries involved provided recycling services worth another $6.7 million.
- CT EPR programs led to the creation of more than 100 jobs and reduced GHG emissions by more than 13 million kg of carbon equivalent.
- EPR programs have given CT residents more and convenient access to recycling of thermostats, paint, electronics and mattresses.
- Total e-scrap recovery steadily increased from 3.7 million lb (2009) to 18.6 million lb (2015)
- Collection of mercury thermostats ranged from 1551-2123 (2008-2013) and rose significantly to 2866 (2015) as a result of 2012 EPR legislation requiring manufacturer’s to collect and recycle these items.
- Total paint recovery increased significantly from 149,000 gallons (2010)—prior to establishment of the program to recycle paint—to 320,000 gallons (2016).
- Before the mattress stewardship program was implemented, CT recycled about 8.7% of discarded mattresses. Since the start of the program in 2015, more than 130,000 units or 63.5% of discarded mattresses have been collected for recycling.
“The PSI report clearly demonstrates that EPR is a great tool to help us recycle more, help municipalities save money, create jobs and also meet the states goal of reducing GHG emissions.” Said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “The report also makes it clear that EPR can play a key role in helping us achieve Connecticut’s ambitious goal of diverting 60% of our trash from the waste stream by 2024.”
“This comprehensive evaluation, the first of its kind in the U.S., demonstrates the significant economic and environmental gains that EPR programs have achieved in Connecticut and the potential these programs have to reduce local government costs and increase recycling nationwide,” said Scott Cassel, chief executive officer and founder of Product Stewardship Institute. “We applaud CT DEEP for evaluating the successes, challenges, and opportunities of their EPR programs—a critical step in strengthening these laws and ensuring their success within the emerging circular economy.”
In July 2016, Connecticut adopted a new Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy (CMMS) aimed at reducing waste, increasing reuse, recycling, and composting, and focusing on the development of waste conversion technologies.
The CMMS lays out strategies to achieve the diversion of 60% of waste from the waste stream. In addition to focusing on EPR, the strategies included improving the performance of municipal materials management programs, and developing and improving recycling and waste conversation technologies.
Under the PSI study, Connecticut’s four EPR programs—electronics, thermostats, paint and mattresses—were all evaluated and examined in terms of their collection programs, environmental impacts of the program, convenience to residents, costs of the program and the financial savings (if any), and jobs created. The report also includes comparisons of CT’s programs to other states, both in the region and nationally.
The PSI report showed that:
- Connecticut ranked 11th (2014) out of 25 states with electronic stewardship programs for collection of e-waste.
- CT was ranked 9th among 13 states (2014) with the thermostat EPR program.
- Connecticut’s paint recycling program is off to a strong start.
On a per capita basis, Connected collected more paint than California and Rhode Island.
- The mattress stewardship program was completing its first year during the completion of this report.
Number of mattresses disposed decreased from about 115,000 in 2014 to 77,000 in FY2016
Mahoney’s Auto Mall and Employee Convicted After Illegally Burying Hazardous Waste
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos recently announced the conviction of Mahoney's Auto Mall, Inc., (Mahoney's) and its employee, Andrew Fuller, for violations of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) related to burying more than 140 gallons of hazardous substances on Mahoney's property.
In St. Lawrence County Court before the Honorable Derek P. Champagne, Mahoney's, a used car dealership and automobile repair shop located at 7513 U.S. Route 11 in the Town of Potsdam, pleaded guilty to one count of Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Third Degree, a Class E felony, in violation of ECL §71-2712(4). Fuller, 33, of Madrid, pleaded guilty to one count of Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Fourth Degree, a Class A misdemeanor, in violation of ECL ?71-2711(3).
"When business owners fail to properly dispose of hazardous material, it jeopardizes the health of New Yorkers and our natural resources," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "These convictions sent the message that those who pollute our environment will be brought to justice."
The recent convictions are the result of an investigation conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
"The long list of egregious waste violations in this case is alarming and shows blatant disregard for the laws that are in place to protect our environment and the public's health and safety," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "In some instances, these chemicals can be deadly, and I applaud the work of our Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) and the Attorney General's office in bringing this case to fruition."
According to court filings and statements made by the prosecutor, DEC's investigation revealed that in June 2014, Fuller buried drums of used oil, containers of used oil filters, and tires on Mahoney's property. On July 21, 2014, DEC police and regulators executed a search warrant which authorized them to excavate the buried waste at Mahoney's. During the excavation, DEC investigators discovered four 55-gallon drums containing approximately 142 gallons of liquid, several containers of used oil filters, and approximately 20 tires. Subsequent laboratory analysis showed that liquid samples from each of the four drums contained the hazardous substances benzene at levels in excess of .5 milligrams per liter. In addition to the benzene, the analysis detected the presence of the hazardous substances toluene, ethyl-benzene, and xylene. Releases of hazardous substances that may enter the environment are illegal.
Additionally, adjacent to the excavated waste area, DEC investigators found an open, unprotected pile of solid waste which measured 33 feet in width by 25 feet in length. The pile of solid waste contained construction and demolition debris, roofing material, household trash, clothing, furniture, and bedding. The disposal of solid waste at the site constitutes the operation of a solid waste management facility. The DEC subjects solid waste management facilities to strict operational and closure requirements to avoid potential adverse impacts to public health and the environment, and it is illegal to construct or operate such a facility without first obtaining a permit from the DEC. According to DEC records, Mahoney's neither applied for nor received the necessary permit.
Inside the auto shop, DEC investigators also discovered a concrete channel dug into the floor which transported spilled automotive fluids into a pit. Once in the pit, the spilled fluids were discharged onto the ground outside the auto shop through a pump attached to a garden hose. DEC investigators collected a soil sample from the area onto which the garden hose discharged the automotive fluids. Laboratory testing revealed that this soil was contaminated with petroleum. DEC officials also discovered petroleum-contaminated Speedy Dry which had been disposed of outside on the ground adjacent to the auto shop.
In December 2016, a St. Lawrence County Grand Jury charged Mahoney's and Fuller, in a 13-count indictment, with violations of the ECL. The indictment charged both Mahoney's and Fuller with one count of Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Third Degree and eight counts of Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Fourth Degree for crimes pertaining to the burial of the hazardous material. Mahoney's was also charged with two additional counts of Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Fourth Degree (for the release of automotive fluids through the garden hose and the disposal of petroleum-contaminated Speedy Dry) and one count of violating ECL ?71-2703(2)(b)(i), a Class B misdemeanor (for operating an unpermitted solid waste management facility).
Mahoney's paid $150,000 in fines and $7,449.49 in restitution to the DEC for reimbursement of costs for excavation and laboratory testing, and was sentenced to an unconditional discharge. Fuller paid a $37,500 fine and is scheduled to be sentenced to three years' probation on April 10, 2017.
Innophos Addresses Mismanagement of Hazardous Waste at Louisiana Facility Under Settlement Agreement
EPA announced that Innophos has agreed to cease sending hazardous waste from the company’s facility in Geismar, Louisiana, to an adjacent facility that was not permitted for hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal. The agreement resolves alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Innophos will also pay a $1,398,000 civil penalty.
Innophos manufactures purified phosphoric acid from merchant-grade acid at its facility in Geismar, Louisiana. Innophos sent hazardous waste streams to a neighboring phosphoric acid manufacturing facility that produces acid from phosphate ore. One waste stream, called RP pondwater, consisted of an acidic stream contaminated with arsenic, cadmium, and chromium. The other waste stream, called raffinate, consisted of a concentrated acid stream contaminated with cadmium and chromium.
The settlement requires Innophos to cease shipments of RP Pondwater waste to a facility not authorized to receive it, a measure that Innophos has already implemented. The settlement also requires Innophos to modify the way the raffinate stream is handled by disposing of the waste only in disposal units that are authorized to accept it or by treating the waste on-site. The recent settlement requires Innophos to cease sending RP pondwater waste to a facility not authorized to receive it, a measure that Innophos has already implemented. The settlement also requires Innophos to modify the way the raffinate stream is handled by disposing of the waste only at facilities that are authorized to accept it or by treating the waste on-site.
The violations were discovered during an EPA inspection of the Geismar facility in 2004. Innophos has already made changes to come into compliance with regards to the RP pondwater waste stream by modifying its filter process, and is pursuing an underground injection control well permit for disposal of the raffinate waste stream.
This settlement supports EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative to reduce pollution from mining and mineral processing.
With the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality as co-plaintiff, the United States, on behalf of EPA, has lodged a consent decree and filed a complaint in the Middle District U.S. Court in Louisiana. The filing of the complaint and lodging of the consent decree will be followed by a 45-day public comment period.
Two Denver-Area Contractors Fined for Lead Violations
The EPA recently announced settlements with two Denver-area contractors as part of an ongoing initiative to protect residents of northeast Denver communities from toxic lead paint hazards during home renovations.
According to the first settlement, Solid Ground Homes, LLC, has agreed to pay a penalty of $18,000 to resolve allegations the firm performed a renovation on a pre-1978 home in northeast Denver without being EPA lead-safe certified and without performing several lead-safe work practices required by the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule). These requirements prevent and minimize the release of lead-contaminated dust and debris.
The second settlement alleges that Lime Painting, LLC, performed exterior paint removal on a pre-1978 home in northeast Denver using prohibited power sanding and grinding operations without being an EPA lead-safe certified firm and without following lead-safe work practices. The firm has agreed to a penalty of $19,950 to settle the alleged violations. Both Solid Ground Homes and Lime Painting have since secured lead-safe firm certification.
Despite its ban from use in 1978, EPA estimates that lead-based paint is still present in more than 30 million homes in the U.S. When lead paint is disturbed during home renovations, proper work practices prevent toxic lead exposure to the home’s occupants. Infants, children, and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can, even at low levels, cause lifelong impacts such as developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavioral problems.
The RRP Rule protects the public from toxic lead hazards created by renovation activities involving lead-based paint and requires the certification of individuals and firms involved in these activities. Contractors working on homes built prior to 1978 must test for lead in paint, or presume lead is present, and apply applicable lead-safe work practices to minimize the risk of exposure to lead.
EPA’s public outreach, compliance assistance, and enforcement activity is intended to increase awareness of RRP rule requirements among both contractors and residents and create a strong deterrent for violators of the rule. Since the launch of the northeast Denver initiative in 2015, EPA has conducted outreach activities and inspected dozens of jobsites in the Five Points, Cole, Clayton, Whittier, Skyland and Park Hill neighborhoods. In addition to the settlements announced, EPA has also issued more than 15 Notices of Noncompliance to contractors based on inspections of individual jobsites. The agency will continue to evaluate compliance associated with these inspections and pursue enforcement action when appropriate.
City of Palmer, Alaska, to Pay $192,162 for Wastewater Violations
The EPA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the State of Alaska announced a settlement with the City of Palmer, Alaska, which addresses Clean Water Act violations at the city-owned and operated wastewater treatment plant.
The Palmer facility currently uses a “lagoon system” for sewage treatment which serves approximately 12,000 people, including the city and adjacent areas of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Between June 2010 and February 2015, the plant reported over 2,000 discharge permit violations for pollutants including: ammonia, fecal coliform, pH, biochemical oxygen demand, and total suspended solids. Similar violations have occurred since that time.
Under the terms of the settlement, the city will upgrade the facility by 2018 to a state-of-the-art system known as a “moving bed bio-film reactor” or MBBR, which has been shown to be an effective treatment technology in colder climates. The city will also implement several measures to minimize continuing violations until the new treatment comes online. As part of the settlement, the city will also pay a $192,162 penalty.
“By upgrading their wastewater treatment system and protecting the environment, the City of Palmer is investing in the future,” said Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance. “Their new, state-of-the-art plant will give them much-needed flexibility to accommodate future growth while safeguarding people’s health as well as the fish and wildlife that help make Palmer an attractive place to live, work and play. This is a great example of how investing in basic infrastructure can pay great dividends for communities.”
Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Alaska Attorney General’s Office have provided valuable technical and legal input in developing the proposed settlement.
“We are encouraged by the city’s efforts to improve their wastewater infrastructure, and we are pleased the parties were able to reach an agreement. It is better to see public funds go towards workable solutions rather than litigation,” said Mike Solter, DEC Compliance Program Manager.
The Palmer plant discharges wastewater into the northernmost channel of the Matanuska River under a Clean Water Act discharge permit issued in 2006 by EPA and now administered by Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation. The Matanuska River, which supports all five species of salmon, flows into the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet. Coho, pink, and chum salmon spawn in channels along the river, including the channel that receives the Palmer facility’s discharges. Beluga whales—observed regularly in Knik Arm—are a listed species under federal Endangered Species Act.
Wood Trucking Corp. to Pay $8,500 Penalty for Wetlands Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) penalized Wood Trucking Corporation $8,500 for violations of the Wetlands Protection Act at its 27R Farm Avenue facility in Peabody. Wood Trucking operates a recycling and composting operation, which includes the processing and storage of asphalt pavement, concrete rubble, compost and wood chips.
The company will retain the services of a wetlands scientist to oversee a project to restore Bordering Vegetated Wetlands (BVW) and ensure that it is stable and has functioning plant growth and vigor.
The violations occurred in late October 2016 after a storm event caused a large quantity of raw fill material that had been stockpiled near a stormwater swale to be eroded into a BVW, impacting approximately 700 square feet. Wood Trucking failed to have the proper erosion controls in place or take other preventive measures.
“The unprotected stockpiling of soil near a wetlands resource area has the potential to erode very quickly when inclement weather arrives, and this facility failed to provide some basic preventive measures that they should have known were necessary,” said Eric Worrall, director of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilmington.
Wood Trucking subsequently removed the fill, installed erosion control fencing and pulled the toe of the fill pile back from the BVW and installed cement barriers around a portion of the perimeter. The restoration of this area, however, will be overseen and monitored during the growing season ending on October 31, 2017.
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Trivia Question of the Week
In December 2016, Toyota sold how many Prius hybrid vehicles in China?
d. 1 million