The Persistence of Plastic

September 21, 2020
The amount of synthetic microfiber we shed into our waterways has been of great concern over the last few years, and for good reason: Every laundry cycle releases in its wastewater tens of thousands of tiny, near-invisible plastic fibers whose persistence and accumulation can affect aquatic habitats and food systems, and ultimately our own bodies in ways we have yet to discover.
And according to researchers from UC Santa Barbara's Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, that’s not the whole picture. In a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, they found that the volume of synthetic microfibers we release to terrestrial environments from our wash cycles rivals — and may soon eclipse — the amount that winds up in our oceans, rivers and lakes.
“The emissions of microfibers onto terrestrial environments — that was a known process. But the magnitude of the issue was not well known,” said Jenna Gavigan, who led the study, the first ever to examine the problem on a global scale.
Using global datasets on apparel production, use and washing with emission and retention rates during washing, wastewater treatment and sludge management, Gavigan and colleagues estimate that 5.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of synthetic microfibers have been emitted from apparel washing between 1950 and 2016, with 2.9 Mt finding their way into waterbodies and a combined 2.5 Mt emitted onto terrestrial environments (1.9 Mt) and landfilled (0.6 Mt).
“If you look at the figures you can see the enormous growth in synthetic clothes production, and as a result, increased synthetic microfiber pollution,” said industrial ecology professor and paper co-author Roland Geyer.
Indeed, according to the paper, about half of the total synthetic microfiber emissions since 1950 (the dawn of synthetic fiber mass production) were generated in the last decade alone. Thanks in large part to the global appetite for fast fashion and its tendency toward cheaper, mass-producible synthetic fibers, as well as increased access to washing machines, our laundry is polluting not just the ocean, but the land, too.
Where is it coming from, this enormous — and until now, largely unnoticed — mass of synthetic microfibers? It turns out that in the effort to keep them from getting in our waterways, these fibers are accumulating in the sludge of wastewater treatment plants.
“Wastewater treatment is not the end of the pollution,” said industrial ecology professor Sangwon Suh, who also is a co-author on the study. With a roughly 95-99% removal efficiency, all but the tiniest microplastics are caught in the sludge, which is treated and turned into biosolids, and “predominantly used in land applications,” as fertilizer and soil amendments.
“A smaller percentage goes to the landfill,” Gavigan said. “The smallest percentage gets dumped into the ocean in some countries, and some of it is incinerated.”
“So then it becomes a terrestrial pollution issue,” Geyer pointed out. “We just turned it into a different environmental pollution issue rather than having actually solved it.” According to the researchers, preventing emissions at the source — whether by using a microfiber capture device, selecting a gentler wash method, washing clothes less often or foregoing synthetic fabrics — would be more effective at mitigating microfiber pollution than trying to capture the fibers after the wastewater is sent to the treatment plant.
This sobering study has its roots in a 2016 Bren group project in which several graduate students, in research conducted for the outdoor apparel company Patagonia, sought to study the conditions that affect garment shedding. That undertaking focused primarily on the microfiber-laden effluent leaving the washing machine, and produced influential research that raised awareness of the synthetic microfiber problem.
The collaboration also inspired a 2017 microfiber leadership summit co-hosted by the Bren School and the environmental organization Ocean Conservancy, in which more than 50 stakeholders, including representatives from industry, government, the research community, the apparel sector and environmental nonprofits convened to try to get their arms around the issue. The result? A road map based on a shared vision, and action items for each stakeholder to steer toward solutions.
“When it comes to microfiber pollution, these new findings show that the ocean has been the canary in the coal mine, and that plastic pollution is far more pervasive in our environment than originally thought,” said Nick Mallos, senior director of Trash Free Seas® at the Ocean Conservancy. “Fortunately, simple and effective solutions — like adding filters to washing machines — exist. We urge manufacturers to make these modifications standard.”
This global assessment of synthetic microfiber emissions is part of a larger picture of microplastics in the environment that the researchers hope to fill in as they uncover the pathways these tiny fibers take. For instance, what other sources contribute these fibers to the environment? How do they move around and what systems may be affected? How do these microfibers interact with the biota of a region? Gaining answers to these and other questions could lead to practices that mitigate or prevent the effects of global synthetic microfiber pollution, even as consumption increases.
“There are huge unknowns,” Suh said. “The amount of microplastics and microfibers that are generated is quite massive and continuing to rise, and if it continues there will be big changes, the consequences of which we are not yet sure. That’s what makes it concerning.” Timnit Kefala and Ilan Macadam-Somer also contributed to this study.
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 – September 29, October 14, October 27
DOT Hazardous Materials Update – September 30, October 15, October 28
EPA to Promote Transparency in Developing Regulatory Guidance Documents
At a speech in front of the Federalist Society, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a final rule to establish consistent requirements and procedures for the issuance of guidance documents. The final rule follows the direction of President Trump’s Executive Order to promote transparency through improved agency guidance practices throughout the federal government.
“Today’s action is perhaps the biggest change in administrative procedures in a generation and one of the five pillars of EPA reform under President Trump,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This historic rule guarantees the transparency the public deserves when engaging with the agency. This is a massive step forward for EPA bringing these legal documents into the light.”
The final rule will increase the transparency of EPA’s guidance practices and will improve the agency’s process for managing guidance documents. The rule, among other elements, will:
  • Establishes the first formal petition process for the public to request that EPA modify, withdraw or reinstate a guidance document.
  • Ensure that the agency’s guidance documents are developed with appropriate review and are accessible to the public.
  • Allows public participation in the development of significant guidance documents.
On October 9, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order 13891, Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents, to promote transparency by ensuring that all active guidance documents are made available to the public. A central principle of EO 13891 is that guidance documents should only clarify existing obligations and that they should not be a vehicle for implementing new, binding requirements on American businesses.
Prior to this action, on July 28, 2020, EPA finalized a guidance portal that provides public access to agency guidance documents. In doing so, EPA made over 9,000 guidance documents available to the public. To access the portal, please visit:
$1.5 Billion Settlement for Selling Cars that Cheated Emissions Test
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the EPA, and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a $1.5 billion settlement against Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, and their affiliates and subsidiaries (collectively, “Daimler”) for undisclosed emission control devices on its diesel Sprinter vans and passenger vehicles from model years 2009 through 2016. As part of the settlement, California will receive about $300 million, including $17.5 million to the California Department of Justice for future environmental enforcement, monitoring, and investigation, as well as to support environmentally-beneficial projects in California.
The Daimler diesel vehicles involved in this case emitted several times the legal amount of smog-forming pollution depending on the model. This pollution (known as oxides of nitrogen, or NOx) contributes to the formation of ozone and particulate matter. It can greatly aggravate health problems such as asthma and cardio-pulmonary disease, and is a particularly serious and expensive problem in California. More than 10 million Californians live in areas with dangerous levels of ozone and particulate matter.
“Longterm, if you cheat, you're going to get caught. Daimler is finding that out today. But they’re not the first — nor likely the last — to try,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The climate crisis is upon us. All of us must do our part to tackle it. If you pollute more than others, then you must do more than others. Installing defeat device software on your vehicles to deceive emissions regulators doesn’t qualify as doing more. It just means you’ll pay more in penalties once we catch you. And we will, because cheaters really aren’t as smart as they think.”
“Californians live with some of the worst air in the country, air that adversely impacts public health causing or contributing to asthma, respiratory disease, and premature death. It also costs the economy through medical costs as well as lost work and schools days,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Automakers must learn that in this state, CARB will continue to use the very latest and most sophisticated science and technology to catch cheating and violations that impact our air and health.”
The settlement resolves allegations that Daimler violated environmental and civil laws by using defeat device software to circumvent emissions testing. This software enables vehicles’ emissions controls to perform more effectively when being run through EPA and CARB test cycles than in real world driving conditions. Daimler is alleged to have sold about 250,000 passenger cars and vans in the United States with diesel engines that did not comply with state and federal laws and regulations governing vehicle emissions and certifications. Of those, approximately 36,946 non-compliant vehicles were sold in California, emitting excess NOx, a smog-forming pollution that exacerbates asthma and other health problems. As part of the settlement, Daimler will be required to pay civil penalties, fix the vehicles, and mitigate excess NOx emissions. The estimated total cost of the settlement is approximately $1.5 billion.
The Daimler Group will contact the owners of the affected vehicles to arrange for repairs at no cost to those owners if and when the settlement is approved by the Court.
In 2019, Attorney General Becerra and CARB secured $78.4 million for California, and additional relief for California consumers, from Fiat Chrysler as part of $500 million settlement resolving allegations that the company used “defeat devices” to cheat vehicle emissions tests. In 2018, Attorney General Becerra, along with the City and County of Los Angeles, secured a $119.5 million settlement with the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) over the unprecedented natural gas leak from a ruptured well at its Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility. That same year, Attorney General Becerra announced a $102 million settlement with BP Energy Company and affiliates over allegations that it intentionally overcharged the State of California for natural gas that the State purchased under three successive contracts from March 2003 to August 2012. In 2017, Attorney General Becerra and CARB announced a $66 million partial settlement with Volkswagen for cheating on its diesel-emissions tests. That was one in a series of partial settlements that in total provided approximately $1.5 billion in relief to California for Volkswagen’s misconduct.
The consent decree was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A copy of the consent decree can be found here.
Pharmaceutical Rule Adopted by Utah
The Waste Management and Radiation Control Board voted at the monthly Board meeting on September 10, 2020 to adopt changes to R315-261, 262, 264, 265, 266, 268, 270, and 273 of the Utah Administrative Code to incorporate changes promulgated by the EPA and published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2019 (84 FR 5816), commonly called the Pharmaceutical Rule. The final rule, effective now, creates a tailored, sector-specific regulatory framework for managing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals at healthcare facilities that generate, accumulate, or otherwise handle hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and reverse distributors engaged in the management of prescription hazardous waste pharmaceuticals.
A document has been created that shows the changes made to the various sections of the Utah Administrative Code to assist those facilities affected by the rule changes. Download the document. If you have questions regarding the rule and its implementation, please contact Deborah Ng at 801-536-0218.
Pennsylvania Rule Proposed to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Power Plants
The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) has voted to promulgate a regulation to limit carbon pollution from power plants. The proposed regulation will be reviewed by the Office of the Attorney General and a public comment and participation period will be announced at a later date. The vote in the EQB was 13 to 6.
Under the proposed regulation, electric power plants that emit carbon dioxide will be required to obtain credits compatible with other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Modeling from DEP shows that participating in RGGI will decrease climate change causing carbon dioxide pollution as well as generate new jobs and reduce air pollution related illness.
“This is an important step for Pennsylvania’s efforts to combat climate change, which is already having and will continue to have a dramatic effect on Pennsylvania,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “This is incredibly important and we are looking forward to hearing from the people of Pennsylvania about this effort.”
Electricity generation is one of the leading sources of carbon dioxide emissions in Pennsylvania, and the commonwealth is a leading emissions source in the country. The proposed regulation would reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 188 million tons between 2022 (when the regulation would go into effect) and 2030.
In addition, other benefits of RGGI for Pennsylvania include:
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 188 million tons
  • Increase of more than 30,000 jobs
  • Reduction of other air pollutants like SO2 and NOx
  • Avoiding 639 premature deaths from air pollution-related health issues
More information about RGGI can be found at
Final Rule on Cranes and Derricks Used in Railroad Roadway Work
OSHA published a final rule amending the agency's crane standard. The final rule will maintain safety and health protections for workers, while reducing compliance burdens.
The final rule adds certain exemptions and clarifications to recognize the unique equipment and circumstances in railway roadway work. The rule also reflects that some OSHA requirements, with regard to the operation of railroad roadway maintenance machines equipped with cranes, are preempted by Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations.
What is exempt?
  • Flash-butt welding trucks, a specialized piece of equipment used in railroad work that meets the technical definition of a crane, but does not present the types of safety hazards that OSHA intended to address in the crane standard; and
  • Using rail stops and rail clamps; restricting out-of-level work; prohibiting dragging a load sideways; having a boom-hoist limiting device for hydraulic cylinder equipped booms; and following manufacturer's guidance for the use and modification of equipment.
Operator training and certification will follow FRA's regulatory requirements.
Enforcement of New York's Plastic Bag Ban to Start Oct. 19, 2020
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that DEC will begin enforcement of the State's ban on single-use plastic carryout bags on Oct. 19, 2020. The plastic bag ban, which went into effect on March 1, was not enforced per an agreement between the parties in a lawsuit brought by Poly-Pak Industries, Inc., et al, in New York State Supreme Court.
DEC Commissioner Seggos said, "The Court's decision is a victory and a vindication of New York State's efforts to end the scourge of single-use plastic bags and a direct rebuke to the plastic bag manufacturers who tried to stop the law and DEC's regulations to implement it. As we have for many months, DEC is encouraging New Yorkers to make the switch to reusable bags whenever and wherever they shop and to use common-sense precautions to keep reusable bags clean. The Court has ruled and DEC will begin to enforce the ban on October 19th. It's time to BYOBagNY."
Pursuant to an Order of the New York State Supreme Court, Albany County, DEC agreed to provide the parties and the Court at least 30 days' notice prior to commencing enforcement. DEC is currently conducting extensive outreach to stakeholders, including grocery stores, retailers, and others, to provide notice of the start of enforcement and answer questions.
DEC continues to encourage New Yorkers to use reusable bags wherever and whenever they shop with the #BYOBagNY campaign, launched earlier this year. Additional information about exemptions to the plastic bag ban, frequently asked questions, and posters, flyers, and tip strips to download, as well as tips for keeping reusable bags clean are available on the DEC website.
New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually-each for about 12 minutes-and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets. In March 2017, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force, chaired by DEC Commissioner Seggos. The task force met several times to develop a uniform, comprehensive, and equitable solution to the challenge of plastic bag waste. The final report analyzed the impacts of single-use plastic bags and provided options for legislation that could help develop a statewide solution. In addition, following passage of the New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act, DEC held a series of meetings with industry stakeholders across the state to invite input from the public and guide the agency's development of rules and regulations to implement the law.
For more information about the plastic bag ban, reusable bags, or to file a complaint about entities using single-use plastic carryout bags, visit DEC's website, email, or call 518-402-8706.
The lawsuit was brought by Poly-Pak Industries, Inc., Green Earth Food Corp., Francisco Marte, Mike Hassen, and the Bodega and Small Business Association in New York State Supreme Court. DEC was represented by the New York State Attorney General's Office in the lawsuit. The Court issued its decision in the case on Aug. 20, 2020.
Senate Passes Bipartisan Wildlife Conservation Legislation
U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) released the following statements after the Senate unanimously passed America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act. The ACE Act language passed the Senate in the form of a substitute amendment that was negotiated with the House of Representatives. The legislation will now go to the House of Representatives.
“At a critical time for the future of wildlife and our planet, the ACE Act would help to improve species conservation, protect vital ecosystems and ensure outdoor recreation opportunities abound for generations to come,” said Senator Carper. “This bipartisan legislation supports locally-driven restoration and conservation programs throughout the country, many of which leverage private dollars and local partnerships to foster economic activity and job creation in the regions they serve. For example, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act and Chesapeake Bay Program support critical efforts in protecting species and restoring habitat in the Delmarva region, which boasts a multibillion-dollar ecotourism industry. While building on existing programs like these that have a proven record of success, the ACE Act would also drive new and innovative initiatives to address threats like invasive species and wildlife disease. With no shortage of challenges facing habitat and species conservation today, the ACE Act will deliver much-needed support to those who are on the ground and working to protect the Earth and all the creatures who inhabit it.”
“The Senate is working together to protect wildlife,” said Senator Barrasso. “The ACE Act will help Washington work with tribes and states on conservation. Our bipartisan legislation will establish a special task force to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease. It will also help protect livestock from predators. This legislation is a win for ranching communities in Wyoming. I am thankful to Ranking Member Carper for his partnership. Now it’s time for the House of Representatives to pass the ACE Act and send it to President Trump for his signature.”
The ACE Act helps conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat, including by reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act. It also addresses the threats of emerging wildlife diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease, protects livestock from predators, and combats invasive species. The legislation has received support from a broad group of stakeholders. Collin O’Mara, the president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation praised the Senate’s passage of the bill.
“At a time when one-third of wildlife species are at heightened risk of extinction, Chairman Barrasso, Senator Carper, and Senator Heinrich are again showing that conservation can bring our leaders across the political spectrum together to achieve real progress,” said O’Mara. “The ACE Act confronts systemic challenges facing wildlife by restoring essential wildlife habitat like wetlands and the Chesapeake Bay, fighting Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk, and removing invasive species. We urge the House to immediately follow suit and pass these common-sense, bipartisan measures to restore wildlife populations and conserve our outdoor heritage.”
Company Owner Indicted for Falsifying Shipping Papers
On July 16, 2020, prosecutors charged Cory D. Hoskins in a 27-count indictment with multiple counts of mail fraud and illegal transportation of hazardous materials (18 U.S.C. § 1341; 49 U.S.C. § 5124).
Between July 2015 and December 2015, Hoskins used his companies (Advanced TENORM Services, LLC, and BES, LLC) to illegally transport technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM) from Fairmont, West Virginia, to a landfill in Irvine, Kentucky. Hoskins falsified shipping papers and arranged for unwitting non- hazardous trucking companies to transport loads of TENORM. By misrepresenting and omitting critical information on shipping documents, Hoskins’ businesses profited from causing the illegal transportation of hazardous material.
The DOT Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation, with assistance from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Eden Wood Preserving, LLC to Pay $50,000 Penalty to Settle Hazardous Waste Violations
Eden Wood Preserving, LLC will pay a $50,000 penalty to settle alleged hazardous waste violations at its facility in Fruitland, Maryland. EPA cited Eden Wood for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid long and extensive cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
Following an EPA inspection, the company was cited for improper hazardous waste management methods and substandard wood preserving drip pad conditions, among other violations.
The wood preserving industry utilizes concrete pads, called “drip pads,” to catch excess wood preservative liquid that drips from treated wood to prevent its seepage into soil or groundwater. The drip pad at this facility had been in operation since 1978. Due to failure to properly inspect and maintain the drip pad, the pad had deteriorated and possessed cracks and gaps, which might have allowed a wood preservative called Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) to enter below the pad surface or into the surrounding soil and groundwater.
CCA is a hazardous waste that must be managed in accordance with RCRA regulations, including specific requirements for drip pads.
As part of the settlement, Eden Wood did not admit liability for the alleged violations, but has certified that it is now in compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.
Oregon OSHA Faults 2 Employers for Similar Failures to Protect Workers Against COVID-19
Oregon OSHA has issued more than $23,000 in fines to two different businesses for engaging in the same hazardous behavior: refusing to carry out proven steps to help protect workers from the coronavirus disease.
In separate enforcement actions, the division issued citations to Café 22 West in Salem and Howard’s Pharmacy in Lakeview. The citations resulted from complaint-based inspections. After attempting unsuccessfully to resolve the issues raised in multiple complaints without an enforcement visit, Oregon OSHA initiated worksite inspections. The inspections found both employers willfully failing to implement health hazard control measures – such as face coverings and physical distancing – and continuing to operate in hazardous conditions, despite having been put on notice well before the inspection itself began.
Both cases illustrate failures to account for reasonable and established measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through employee-to-employee or customer-to-employee transmission.
“In addressing complaints involving COVID-19 and the workplace, we have started with efforts to engage and educate the employers involved about what they needed to do. In most cases, we have been able to resolve any issues without an actual enforcement visit,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “But as these two particular cases demonstrate, we will continue to bring our enforcement tools to bear when employers choose to disregard requirements.”
Here is a summary of each of the division’s enforcement actions:
Café 22 West – citation issued Aug. 18
This inspection concerned activities at a restaurant and retail fruit store.
It found the employer refused to furnish control measures to help protect about 18 employees from potential exposure to COVID-19. The employees’ jobs included hosting, cooking, cleaning, and serving customers.
The control measures that could have been provided – but were not – included implementing physical distancing and ensuring employees and customers wear face coverings.
Because of the employer’s refusal to comply, Oregon OSHA posted a Red Warning Notice at the business. Such a notice makes it clear a workplace is unsafe and should not continue operating until corrections are made. Still, the employer refused to change course.
Altogether, Oregon OSHA is proposing a total fine of $13,900. That includes an $8,900 penalty for a willful violation of the requirement to provide health hazard controls and a $5,000 penalty for failing to abide by the Red Warning Notice.
Howard’s Pharmacy – citation issued Sept. 1
This inspection included an examination of worker and customer interactions involving the indoor and outdoor spaces of a pharmacy and retail business.
It found the employer refusing to provide health hazard control measures to help protect an estimated nine employees from potential exposure to COVID-19. The employees were working inside and outside of the establishment.
The control measures that could have been provided – but were not – included implementing physical distancing and ensuring employees and customers wear face coverings.
In this case, too, after working with the employer for a week, Oregon OSHA posted a Red Warning Notice at the business because of its refusal to comply.
Altogether, the division is proposing a total fine of $9,400. That includes an $8,900 penalty for a willful violation of the requirement to provide health hazard controls. It also includes a $500 penalty for continuing to operate in violation of the Red Warning Notice provisions.
The smaller penalty for the Red Warning Notice violation reflects the employer’s partial attempt to comply by moving operations curbside, although it still had not instituted face coverings when six feet of separation could not be consistently maintained between customers and employees or between employees.
In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers and workers a variety of consultation, information, and education resources addressing COVID-19.
COVID-19 citations – a summary
Since March, Oregon OSHA has issued 18 citations to employers for violating requirements to protect workers from COVID-19. Penalties for non-willful violations ranged from $100 to $2,000, while penalties for willful violations ranged from $8,900 to $14,000. The following summary is not an exhaustive list, as more citations are pending:
  • Unger Farms Inc. – Cornelius – did not provide one handwashing facility per 10 employees per the temporary emergency rule in agriculture.
  • Dillon & Associates (dba NW Office Liquidations) – Portland – furniture store was not closed to the public per executive order.
  • S&J Entertainment LLC – Portland – adult entertainment club was not closed to the public per executive order.
  • National Frozen Foods Corporation – Albany – did not provide health hazard controls such as physical distancing.
  • Old Trapper Smoked Products Inc. – Forest Grove – did not provide health hazard controls, including physical distancing; face coverings; or barriers.
  • Cabela’s Wholesale LLC – Springfield – did not provide health hazard controls such as physical distancing.
  • City Liquidators Inc. – Portland – furniture store was not closed to the public per executive order.
  • Barenbrug USA Inc. – Tangent – did not provide health hazard controls such as physical distancing.
  • Masterbrand Cabinets – Grants Pass – forest products manufacturer did not provide health hazard controls, including physical distancing and face coverings.
  • Glamour Salon – Salem – willfully failed to follow executive order prohibiting operation of barber shops and hair salons.
  • Mounts Enterprises (dba Casey’s Restaurant) – Roseburg – willfully failed to follow prohibition of on-premises consumption of food or drink.
  • Dalin LLP – North Bend – restaurant willfully failed to follow prohibition of on-premises consumption of food or drink.
  • I&N Inc. – Veneta – gas station and minimart did not use health hazard control measures such as physical distancing and face coverings.
  • Laui Life Coffee LLC (dba Kevista Coffee) – Bend – willfully failed to implement face coverings per sector-specific guidance for bars and restaurants.
  • Gold Standard Investment Group LLC – Central Point – did not follow requirements of the temporary emergency rule in agriculture, including adjacent toilet and handwashing facilities; sanitation schedule; and field sanitation information for workers.
  • Kelli Bieber – Central Point – did not follow requirements of the temporary emergency rule in agriculture, including adjacent toilet and handwashing facilities; sanitation schedule; and field sanitation information for workers.
  • Cal Farms Inc. – Oregon City – did not follow the requirement of the temporary emergency rule in agriculture to provide field sanitation information for workers.
  • Oregon Berry Packing Inc. – Hillsboro – did not follow the requirement of the temporary emergency rule in agriculture to provide field sanitation information for workers.
Koda Energy Fined $13,600 for Air Quality Violations at Shakopee Biomass Energy Facility
Koda Energy LLC has paid a $13,600 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for a series of air-emission violations at its biomass energy generation facility in Shakopee. Koda Energy is an energy-production partnership between Rahr Malting and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
Violations included failing to conduct required visible emissions checks of vent filters during daylight hours, submitting test frequency plans late to the MPCA, operating a truck unloading station with doors open, and installing a dry sorbent injection system four months after a required installation deadline. Dry sorbent injection is a filtering technology for boilers that reduce acid gases.
In addition to paying the civil penalty, the company has completed a series of corrective actions, including submitting test frequency plans on time, repairing the doors to the truck unloading station so they can be closed, conducing visible emissions checks, and committing to meet all future permit deadlines.
MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected the environment, whether they were first-time or repeat violations, and how promptly the violations were reported to authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
Dental Practice Cited for Failing to Fully Implement Workplace Respiratory Protections
OSHA cited Georgetown Dental LLC for violating respiratory protection and other standards at the Georgetown, Massachusetts, location. OSHA cited the dental practice for six serious and one other-than-serious violations, with proposed penalties of $9,500. The company has paid the penalty in full and abated the citations.
OSHA cited the dental practice for failing to provide medical evaluations and fit testing for employees required to wear N-95 respirators as protection against coronavirus; lack of written programs related to respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogen exposure control and chemical hazard communication; insufficient bloodborne pathogen training and controls; and inadequate eyewash stations.
“OSHA's goal is to ensure abatement of hazards. With this settlement and hazard abatement, the goal has been met,” said OSHA Andover Area Office Director Anthony Covello. “OSHA will continue to field and respond to complaints and take steps needed to address unsafe workplaces.”
Alaska Quarry Operator Cited for Stormwater Violations
EPA has reached a settlement with Northern Alaska Contractors, LLC (NAC), for violations of Alaska’s Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Multi-Sector General Permit requirements that protect against pollution caused by stormwater runoff at the Ugadaga Quarry in Unalaska, Alaska.
By signing the Consent Agreement and Final Order, NAC agreed to pay a penalty of $62,500. NAC also entered an Administrative Order on Consent to ensure that NAC’s quarry operations come into compliance with the Clean Water Act, EPA regulations, and Alaska’s Multi-Sector General Permit. The Administrative Order on Consent requires NAC to update the Ugadaga Quarry Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and site map; conduct required monitoring, sampling and reporting; conduct required inspections; and conduct required annual training.
Alaska’s Multi-Sector General Permit requires industrial facilities to take steps to minimize discharges of pollutants and sediment from stormwater. Stormwater discharges are generated by runoff from land and impervious areas during rainfall and snowmelt events and often contain pollutants that adversely affect water quality and damage aquatic habitat.
The settlement resolves alleged violations that were documented during an inspection at the Ugadaga Quarry in 2018, including:
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and site map deficiencies.
  • Failure to conduct required monitoring, sampling and reporting.
  • Failure to conduct all required inspections and to conduct annual training.
  • Failure to properly store, handle and dispose of construction waste.
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Fined $253K for Air Emissions
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines has paid $253,300 in penalties to the California Air Resources Board for violating the Ocean-Going Vessel At-Berth Regulation. The rule requires container, passenger and refrigerated cargo ships to reduce emissions while docked at California’s busiest ports, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Hueneme, San Francisco and San Diego.
The violations were discovered during routine audits of the company’s 2017 and 2018 vessel fleet visits to the Port of Oakland. CARB’s investigation revealed that from 2017 to 2018, Mitsui O.S.K. Line’s Oakland fleet did not meet the three-hour diesel engine operational time limits and did not reduce auxiliary engine power generation by 70% as is required.
“Emissions from ships pollute communities adjacent to the Port, and also contribute to smog,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “This regulation requiring shipping fleets to reduce their diesel emissions while at berth has a profound impact on helping clean up air quality, especially in communities located near ports.”
To settle this case, the company agreed to pay $253,300 to the Air Pollution Control Fund to support efforts to improve air quality, and to comply with all applicable CARB regulations.
The original At-Berth Regulation, adopted in 2007, requires vessel fleets to reduce their diesel engine power generation while docked. Power reduction requirements have been phased in over time and increased from 70 to 80 percent in 2020. Fleets can accomplish this by turning off their diesel engines and connecting to grid-based shore power, or by using alternative technologies to achieve equivalent emission reductions while in port. The regulation ultimately reduces at-berth oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter emissions from the auxiliary engines that power the electricity and other onboard operations during a vessel’s visit. In 2017, 87 percent of all regulated fleets complied with the regulation.
CARB recently adopted a new At-Berth Regulation to seek additional emissions reductions by including smaller fleets and additional vessel types such as roll-on/roll-off vehicle carriers and tankers. The rule builds on progress achieved by the original regulation, which helped to achieve an 80 percent reduction in harmful emissions from more than 13,000 vessel visits since 2014.
The new regulation will help achieve more public health protection for Californians living in communities near the ports.
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
European Chemicals Agency Recommendation for Cadmium Occupational Exposure Limits
ECHA was tasked by the European Commission “to assess the option of an airborne occupational exposure limit (OEL) and/or a combination of an airborne occupational exposure limit and a biological monitoring value for cadmium and its inorganic compounds based on their possible equal effectiveness in protecting the health of workers.”
The Agency has recommended to retain the current Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) 0.001 mg Cd/m3 (1 μg Cd/m3) (inhalable fraction) together with a Biological Limit Value (BLV) of 0.002 mg Cd/g creatinine (2 μg Cd/ g creatinine) for cadmium in urine.
Public Works Director Indicted for Hazardous Waste Violations
A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte, NC has returned a criminal indictment, charging David Stuart Lutz, the Director of Public Works (DPW) for the City of Brevard, with environmental crimes related to the handling, transportation, and storage of hazardous waste, announced Andrew Murray U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Chuck Carfagno, Special Agent in Charge of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) of the Atlanta Area Office, and Robert Schurmeier, Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), joined U.S. Attorney Murray in making the announcement.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, Lutz, 64, of Pisgah Forest, N.C., violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, by illegally directing DPW employees to dig up soil known to be hazardous for lead, from the backstop of the City of Brevard’s (the City) firing range, without the use of any of the required protective equipment or procedural safeguards. The indictment further alleges that Lutz directed the employees to transport the contaminated soil in City-owned vehicles, without the requisite hazardous waste manifest. As alleged in the indictment, Lutz further instructed the employees to move the contaminated soil to the DPW Operations Center and store it there, even though the area is not permitted as a treatment, storage, or disposal location for hazardous waste, such as lead. According to the indictment, the alleged hazardous waste violations occurred from about May 3, 2016, to on or about May 5, 2016.
The charge of illegally transporting hazardous waste without a manifest carries a maximum prison term of two years and a $50,000 for each day of violation. The illegal transportation of hazardous waste to an unpermitted facility, and the illegal storage of hazardous waste, each carry a maximum prison term of five years.
The charges against Lutz are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In making the announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the EPA-CID and the SBI for their investigation that led to charges. Assistant United States Attorney Steven Kaufman, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case.
Wastewater Operator Indicted for Clean Water Act Violations
An operator of the Wamego Wastewater Treatment Facility was indicted on federal charges of violating the Clean Water Act, said U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister.
David Schleif, 47, Belvue, Kansas, was charged with discharging untreated or inadequately treated sewage from the Wamego Wastewater Treatment Facility into the Kansas River. The crime is alleged to have occurred between May 2017 and August 2019.
In addition, he was charged with 19 counts of including falsified data in discharge monitoring reports. The falsified reports showed lower levels of biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids and E. coli than indicated by actual tests results.
If convicted, Schleif could face a penalty of up to three years in federal prison on the discharge count and up to two years and a fine up to $10,000 on each of the other counts. The Environmental Protection Division – Office of Criminal Investigations investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney is prosecuting.
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 in September 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 239.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations. Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training is available via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT Hazardous Materials Training, call 800-537-2372 to find out how you can get your course materials on an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
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