March 22, 2021
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has added molybdenum trioxide (CAS No. 1313-27-5) and indium tin oxide (CAS No. 50926-11-9) to the list of chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer for purposes of Proposition 65
. The listing of these chemicals is pursuant to the Labor Code
The basis for the listings was described in a public notice
published in the October 9, 2020, issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register (Register 2020, No. 41-Z). The title of the notice was “Notice of Intent to List Chemicals by the Labor Code Mechanism: Molybdenum Trioxide and Indium Tin Oxide.” The publication of the notice initiated a 45-day public comment period. OEHHA received one comment on molybdenum trioxide. The comment and OEHHA’s response are posted with the Notice of Intent to List
OEHHA indicated that the agency also intends to list perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (CAS RN 335-67-1) as known to the state to cause cancer. This action is being proposed pursuant to the “Authoritative Bodies” listing mechanism. According to the National Toxicology Program (NTP 2020
), PFOA was widely used in manufacturing of a variety of consumer products that included many nonstick applications, such as for clothing and cookware. PFOA is no longer produced in the US and its production and use worldwide was significantly curtailed with the 2019 ban
of the compound under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. However, its persistence in the environment and breakdown of certain other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances result in continued PFOA exposure
New Spill Reporting Regulations Proposed by CT DEEP
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes issued a Notice of Intent
to adopt regulations governing the reporting of spills and releases commonly referred to as the Release Reporting Regulations.
Currently, under section 22a-450 of the Connecticut General Statutes, releases of substances such as oil, chemical liquids, and harmful hazardous materials must be reported to the Commissioner of DEEP, regardless of the quantity released. These reports are used to determine which releases necessitate dispatching DEEP’s emergency spill responders.
In this Notice of Intent, DEEP has proposed to update the Release Reporting Regulations to set minimum thresholds for the types of releases and the threshold quantities that trigger reporting and specify when, how, and what to report. Through these changes, DEEP expects that there will be a significant reduction in the number of releases that must be reported, while better enabling the Department to focus on those types of spills that pose the greatest threat to human health and the environment.
These proposed regulations are based on the implementation of Public Act No. 2-9 of the September Special Session
and the modernization of Connecticut’s cleanup framework for contaminated sites. Public Act 2-9 authorized a sunset of the Transfer Act (a transactional and property-based cleanup program), and a transition to a release-based cleanup program.
The proposed changes are intended to: 1) promote more timely intervention and mitigation of releases; 2) improve the quality of information reported; and 3) enhance the effectiveness of the Department’s Emergency Response and Spill Prevention Division by allowing it to concentrate its resources on releases of greatest concern or threat to public health or the environment.
Updating spill-reporting regulations was identified as a specific goal in DEEP’s 20by20 initiative
. The proposed regulations are advantageous not only to the regulated community but to the efficient use of DEEP’s resources, while maintaining environmental protection standards.
The proposed regulations, statement of purpose, regulatory flexibility analysis/small business impact statement and a fiscal note are all posted and available on the eRegulations System website
New Jersey Frozen Dessert Manufacturer Cited After Second Amputation Injury on Same Machine
Despite two severe amputation injuries in 2018 and 2020 on the same machine at a Lakewood ice cream manufacturing plant, a recent federal safety and health inspection found the company continues to ignore protocols designed to prevent other workers from suffering similar injuries.
A maintenance mechanic lost two fingers while repairing an ice cream wrapper machine. Following a September 2020 investigation, OSHA found that Fieldbrook Foods Corp. willfully failed to shut down and isolate energy to the machine during repair work. OSHA
has proposed $237,176 in penalties.
The same machine was involved in a 2018 incident
in which a sanitation worker lost one finger and fractured another when his fingers got caught while repairing the jammed equipment.
In both instances, OSHA found Fieldbrook Foods Corp. violated safety standards for preventing accidental machine startup, a process known as lockout/tagout
. The company employs about 200 workers in Lakewood.
“Fieldbrook Foods knew that machines must be completely disabled before workers perform service and maintenance. Instead of addressing the cited amputation hazards which led to two serious injuries, the company continues to expose its workers to dangerous machinery,” said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick, in Marlton, New Jersey.
Fieldbrook Foods Corp., a subsidiary of Wells Enterprises Inc., produces and sells frozen desserts under the Blue Bunny, Blue Ribbon, Original Bomb Pop and other brands. The company is the largest privately held, family-owned ice cream manufacturer in the U.S. Founded in 1913 in LeMars, Iowa, Wells produces more than 150 million gallons of ice cream per year and distributes products in all 50 states.
DOT “Mask Up” Campaign
DOT announced a new “Mask Up,” campaign to help ensure the safety of transportation workers. The campaign is a joint effort by the Federal Aviation, Motor Carrier Safety, Railroad and Transit Administrations across all forms of transportation. The centerpiece of the campaign is a digital toolkit including posters, social media, FAQs and other resources.
“Throughout the pandemic, transportation workers have played a vital role connecting Americans to their jobs, keeping goods moving, and ensuring that vaccines get to where they’re needed,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With this campaign, we’ll send a clear message to people who travel: When you wear a mask, you’re protecting the safety of our essential transportation workers, your fellow passengers, and yourself.”
The campaign is aimed at educating travelers and transportation providers on their responsibility to comply with wearing a mask when traveling. Wearing a mask on all public transportation, including buses, trains, airplanes, and ferries, and while at all transportation hubs, helps protect essential workers. There is a national requirement to wear a mask while traveling, per the Order
issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the current Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security Directive
, and failure to comply with the requirement can result in civil penalties.
All transportation operators are required to make sure their passengers are complying with the new masking requirements during boarding, riding and disembarking. A mask covers the mouth and nose and secures via ear loops, ties or elastic bands. Further guidance on acceptable masks can be found on the CDC webpage
. Information regarding exemptions, including brief removal for eating, drinking and taking medication, can be found in more detail here
. And travelers should consult the CDC’s travel webpage
for the latest guidance before traveling.
Frequently asked questions, social media messaging, graphics and more resources can be found on DOT’s “Mask Up” webpage
Used Oil Facility Cited for Hazardous Waste Violations
California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control has filed a civil lawsuit
against a Central California hazardous waste storage facility because of multiple serious and repeat alleged violations of California’s hazardous waste laws.
California Oil Transfer LLC, formerly known as Riverbank Oil Transfer, is a used oil transfer facility permitted to receive used oil, anti-freeze and oily wastewater from tank trucks operated by hazardous waste transporters. Activities at the facility include the transfer of hazardous waste used oil into rail cars for transportation to offsite hazardous waste treatment, storage, recycling, or disposal facilities.
Violations include improper storage of hazardous wastes, the unauthorized acceptance and comingling of hazardous waste, storing hazardous waste in areas without secondary containment, failure to maintain proper records, and exceeding authorized hazardous waste storage volumes.
The complaint stems from 2016 and 2017 compliance evaluation inspections conducted by DTSC at the Stanislaus County facility located at 5300 Claus Road, Riverbank. Based on those inspections, the complaint includes 10 violations.
DTSC inspections also found that Riverbank Oil Transfer LLC and California Oil Transfer LLC moved railcars filled with hazardous waste used oil to areas without secondary containment at least 77 times and that between 2014 and 2016 the facility stored those railcars containing hazardous waste in unauthorized areas for a total of 370 days.
These inspections also found that Riverbank Oil Transfer LLC and California Oil Transfer LLC exceeded its authorized storage capacity limit of 50,000 gallons of hazardous waste on 37 different occasions between 2014 and 2016 as a result of the facilities unauthorized storage of hazardous waste.
DTSC was authorized by the Hazardous Waste Control Law to assess a civil penalty up to $25,000 for each violation or each day a violation continues before Jan 1, 2018.
Dairy and Its Owner Sentenced for Clean Water Act Violation
4 Brothers Dairy, Inc. (4 Bros.) and its owner, Andrew Fitzgerald, of Shoshone, Idaho, were sentenced in U.S. District Court for unlawful discharge of pollutant into a water of the United States, a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale ordered 4 Bros. to pay a $95,000 fine and ordered Fitzgerald to pay a $35,000 fine. As part of its plea agreement entered in the case, 4 Bros. also agreed to obtain a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued under the Clean Water Act by the EPA. NPDES permits are designed to control water pollution by regulating point sources, such as large dairies, that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Judge Dale also imposed one year of probation on 4 Bros.
According to court records, 4 Bros. is a dairy and concentrated animal feeding operation operating in Shoshone with at least 1,000 head of cattle. It maintains waste-water lagoons that are adjacent to the Milner-Gooding Canal, which flows to the Malad River and on to the Snake and Columbia Rivers. In the winter season of 2017, record precipitation, record snowpack, and flooding occurred, leading to extreme runoff at the 4 Bros. property. In February 2017, during this period of flooding, 4 Bros. and Fitzgerald negligently caused discharges of manure-laden water into the Milner Gooding Canal at three locations.
On February 10, 2017, a catchment area on the east side of the dairy overtopped, inadvertently breached, and discharged snowmelt along with manure into the canal. 4 Bros. and Fitzgerald were aware of the discharge during that time but did not attempt to repair the lagoon until February 23, 2017. 4 Bros. and Fitzgerald admitted that failing to repair the discharge for 14 days was criminally negligent under the circumstances.
Two other discharges occurred between February 19 and February 22, 2017. On the west side of the dairy, 4 Bros. used earth-moving equipment to cut open a berm and lined it with plastic to cause manure-laden wastewater from a lagoon to flow into the canal. At the central portion of the dairy, 4 Bros. mechanically pumped manure-laden wastewater from a wastewater lagoon into the canal. 4 Bros. additionally admitted that these discharges were negligent under the circumstances.
“The United States Attorney’s Office takes seriously any business, corporation, or individual that violates federal environmental laws. Even the negligent discharge of pollutants into the waters of the United States is simply unacceptable,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Gonzalez. “The sentence holds the defendants accountable for their actions in violating the Clean Water Act, and our office will continue to work with the EPA and our state and local partner agencies in the State of Idaho to hold offenders of the Clean Water Act accountable,” he concluded.
“The defendants’ conduct led to a serious impact to water quality in the state of Idaho,” said Scot Adair, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in the Northwest. “EPA and the Department of Justice hold accountable companies and individuals that pollute our waterways.”
As part of the plea agreement, 4 Bros. also agreed to commit no further Clean Water Act violations and to provide the EPA and state regulators with full access to 4 Bros.’ operations as well as books and records upon reasonable notice to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Acting U.S. Attorney Gonzalez commended the cooperative investigation by the EPA, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Idaho Department of Agriculture, and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, which led to the charges.
SA Recycling Cited for Hazardous Waste Violations at Two Facilities
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has asked a judge to order SA Recycling to stop violating hazardous waste laws at two of their Los Angeles-area facilities and to pay civil penalties for past infractions.
In a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, theDTSC alleged that SA Recycling, LLC violated hazardous waste laws at their facilities in Los Angeles and Pomona. These alleged violations include unlawfully storing, treating, releasing and transporting hazardous waste, including lead.
DTSC is the state agency tasked with safeguarding Californians and the environment from the harmful effects of dangerous chemicals. This complaint is the latest in a string of enforcement actions by DTSC against metal recyclers across the state.
“Harmful chemicals have the potential to migrate into neighboring areas, so the health of people and the environment are at risk when hazardous waste is mismanaged,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “DTSC will continue to use all tools at our disposal to keep communities safe.”
Inspectors from DTSC and Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Health Hazardous Materials Division found SA Recycling did not have a permit from DTSC to store and/or treat hazardous waste at the facilities.
In Los Angeles, inspectors found elevated levels of lead and copper in metal piles, 144 55-gallon drums of used oil with perforated or unsealed lids and they had stored shredded paper from oil filters in a waste pile.
In Pomona, inspectors discovered hazardous waste manifests did not account for 135 compressed gas cylinders shipped to a Chino company that did not have a permit to store hazardous waste, that a company transporting cylinders was not property registered. Inspectors also observed three microwave ovens containing material that requires special handling being loaded via grappler into trailers for transport. A grappler’s jaws can crush its contents, increasing the risk of harmful ingredients being released.
SA Recycling faces civil penalties of up to $25,000 for each instance of the alleged violations.
Battery-Powered Sprayers Recalled Due to Fire Hazard
HD Hudson Iillu-Mist 40001 one-gallon & 40002 two-gallon battery-powered garden sprayers have been recalled by the manufacturer
due to a fire hazard. The sprayers have a plastic triangle-shaped handle in gray with teal blue trim and a white tank with “illu-Mist” printed on the front side of the tank. The sprayers measure 15.5 inches and 19.5 inches in height when assembled.
If you have one of these units, you should immediately stop using the recalled battery-powered sprayers, remove the battery tray, and look for a brown battery. If the battery is brown, you should remove the battery and tray and dispose of them as universal waste, and contact HD Hudson at 800-394-8802 for a free replacement battery and tray. Follow proper battery use and storage procedures that are listed in the product instructions
HD Hudson has received four reports of batteries overheating, including one report of a battery melting and catching fire resulting in less than $100 in property damage. No injuries have been reported.
The sprayers, which were manufactured in China, were Lowe’s stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com from December 2019 through January 2021 for between $40 and $50.
Schnitzer Steel Ordered to Investigate Potential Hazardous Waste Releases in Fresno Neighborhood
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) ordered
metal recycler Schnitzer Steel in Fresno to determine if they are releasing hazardous waste into their South Fresno community.
This action, taken by the State department charged with safeguarding Californians from the harmful effects of dangerous chemicals, requires the company to determine the extent of the hazardous releases and to develop a plan for cleaning it up. Schnitzer shears metal materials, including old cars and appliances and ships them to be recycled and resold.
The order serves as a warning to any company doing business in California that the Department will take firm action to stop any mishandling of toxic waste that threatens human health and the environment.
The Schnitzer facility at 2727 So. Chestnut Avenue is in a neighborhood that suffers from multiple sources of pollution and ranks in the highest level of most environmentally burdened areas, according to Cal Enviroscreen,
an online tool that helps identify communities disproportionately burdened by pollution. The nearest home is less than one-tenth of a mile away from the facility.
“As leaders in environmental protection, we have an urgent responsibility to protect people and their communities from corporate polluters,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “Our action today represents another step forward in our mission to protect all Californians from potential exposure to harmful materials that originate from metal recycling activities, and to focus our attention on communities where too many residents are already burdened by and vulnerable to dangerous pollution from multiple sources.”
The facility has had several hazardous waste violations over the years. Facility hazardous waste manifests dating back to 1994 show the metal recycler has generated large amounts of hazardous waste. State inspectors issued violations against the facility in 2013 and DTSC filed a complaint
against Schnitzer Fresno in May 2020 after finding evidence they unlawfully disposed of soil contaminated with lead and other harmful metals, did not have a hazardous waste permit, and failed to adequately manage the waste.
Under the order, Schnitzer must identify all sources and extent of contamination and evaluate if there is a risk to human health and the environment. The order contains timetables for meeting certain conditions and submitting required investigative reports, and DTSC will hold a public meeting so residents can weigh in on possible cleanup plans.
Iowa Companies Team with Pollution Prevention Intern Program to Boost Profits, Improve Environmental Performance
Seven businesses will team with the Iowa DNR’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Intern Program this summer to increase efficiency of a system or process and reduce associated operating costs.
Upper-level engineering students will work on-site at one of the assigned seven companies to analyze data, research pollution prevention strategies, and provide calculated recommendations. Companies utilize the data to make informed decisions and drive implementations that will help meet their environmental performance goals.
“Companies often know they have inefficiencies in their processes but do not have the time or the capacity to focus on a solution,” says Jeff Fiagle, Team Lead for the P2 Services team. Technical advisers with the P2 Intern Program provide oversight to the interns who seek to pinpoint the root cause of the inefficiencies and provide long-term solutions.
Since 2001, more than 190 Iowa companies, hospitals, universities and government agencies have participated in this innovative program, accumulating more than $109 million in savings as a result of using resources more efficiently and improving environmental performance.
Environmental benefits achieved include the reduction of:
- 5 billion gallons of water;
- 254,929 tons of solid waste;
- 9,965 tons of hazardous waste;
- 9 million kilowatt hours of electricity;
- 7 million therms of energy.
Companies participating in the 2021 P2 Intern Program include:
- Burlington: CNH Industrial America, LLC
- Clarinda: NSK Corporation
- Marshalltown: JBS USA, LLC
- Mason City: Woodharbor Custom Cabinetry
- Newton: TPI Composites, Inc.
- Ottumwa: JBS Swift Pork
- Storm Lake: Tyson Foods Inc. Hillshire Brands
Funding for the P2 Intern Program includes federal grants, portions of solid waste tonnage fees and cost share contributed by the host companies.
Pollution Prevention Services also provides confidential, non-regulatory, environmental technical assistance in the form of assessments, Environmental Management Systems development assistance, workshops, and access to the P2 Technical Resource Library. These services are offered at no-cost to help companies reduce expenses through source-reduction strategies to improve process efficiency and reduce or eliminate waste.
For more information on the Pollution Prevention Intern Program and a list of 2021 projects, visit: www.iowap2interns.com
. Case summaries of the 2021 projects will be posted online in the fall.
$74,469 Fine for Asbestos Violations During Wildfire Cleanup in Medford
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $74,469 penalty
Friday to BACH Development for asbestos
violations at the cleanup of a Southern Oregon mobile home park hit by wildfire in 2020.
BACH Development improperly cleared, removed, loaded and packaged asbestos-containing wildfire debris from Medford Estates mobile home park at 3555 S Pacific Highway in Medford without the required asbestos abatement license from the state. The Florida-based company also failed to notify the disposal site of the type and volume of asbestos-containing waste material and failed to obtain the disposal site’s approval before bringing in the waste.
The violations occurred between late November and early December 2020. The Almeda Fire in September 2020 severely damaged Medford Estates, destroying many of the homes in the mobile home park. Medford Estates has more than 200 mobile home lots. Medford Estates chose not to participate in the state-led wildfire cleanup effort, and BACH Development is not a contractor with the state.
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission, which oversees DEQ, granted temporary rule variances
for several asbestos rules to expedite cleanup efforts in communities damaged by the historic 2020 wildfires, which included the Almeda Fire. However, many asbestos rules still apply to cleanup in the wildfire zone. These rules provide important health protection for workers and the public. Exposure to asbestos may cause cancer and other illnesses. There’s no known safe level of exposure.
BACH Development may appeal the civil penalty and request a hearing within 20 calendar days from receiving notice from DEQ.
Judgment Against Scrap Metal Recycler
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced that his office has obtained a judgment against Alter Trading Corporation and Miller Compressing Company requiring installation of a pollution capture system at their facility in Milwaukee, Wis. and payment of $65,000 in forfeitures, surcharges, and court costs for violations of the state’s air pollution control laws. The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s (DOJ) collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was integral to this result.
“The important work of DOJ’s Public Protection Unit includes protecting clean air,” said Attorney General Kaul. “This settlement holds companies that were responsible for air pollution accountable, while helping to improve local air quality by requiring that a pollution capture system be installed.”
Alter Trading Corporation is a scrap metal recycling company with locations throughout the Midwest. Miller Compressing Company is the subsidiary that owns and operates their facility in Milwaukee at 1640 West Bruce Street. The Miller Compressing Company facility shreds and recycles automobiles, appliances, and other metal products. The alleged violations involve emissions from the metal shredder and the operation of pollution control devices for the shredder.
Because this compromise was reached prior to the commencement of a civil action, requirements of 2017 Wisconsin Act 369 do not apply.
Assistant Attorneys General Sarah Geers and Lorraine Stoltzfus represented the State of Wisconsin in this case.
Wastewater Discharge Settlement
A wire manufacturing company in San Joaquin County will pay a $34,328 fine for industrial wastewater discharges that threatened the health of aquatic life and habitat in the Calaveras River.
Stockton, California based Sumiden Wire Co. violated the General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities. The fine is divided into three components — $22,628 for a discharge of unauthorized wastewater; $4,550 for failure to maintain best management practices; and $7,150 for failure to implement good housekeeping.
This enforcement action is a joint effort between the State Water Resources Control Board’s Office of Enforcement and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Both agencies determined that the discharger failed to fulfill requirements of the permit. The violations, which occurred on two days in early April, involved a tank probe failure that caused an estimated 4,820 gallons of acidic wastewater to discharge to the onsite storm water drainage system, which is connected to the city of Stockton’s municipal storm sewer.
Stockton’s municipal storm sewer discharges to the Calaveras River. Discharges of acidic wastewater can negatively impact aquatic life by increasing the solubility of metals and the toxic elements available for uptake by plants or absorbed by fish. Fish mortality will increase in lower pH conditions. Because of this, the discharged wastewater posed a substantial threat to aquatic organisms.
“The discharger failed to properly maintain and test a tank overflow sensor, which led to the wastewater discharge,” said John J. Baum, assistant executive officer for the Central Valley Water Board. “Board staff is satisfied that the discharger has taken corrective actions to prevent future discharge violations.”
Owners of industrial facilities must enroll in the stormwater permitting program, which requires enrollees to hire a stormwater professional to prepare a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan. Enrollees must also monitor stormwater conditions and collect stormwater samples for laboratory analysis.
Double-Duty Catalyst Generates Hydrogen Fuel While Cleaning up Wastewater
Hydrogen is a pollution-free energy source when it’s extracted from water using sunlight instead of fossil fuels. But current strategies for splitting or breaking apart water molecules with catalysts and light require the introduction of chemical additives to expedite the process. Now, researchers reporting in ACS ES&T Engineering
have developed a catalyst that destroys medications and other compounds already present in wastewater to generate hydrogen fuel, getting rid of a contaminant while producing something useful.
Harnessing the sun’s energy to split water to make hydrogen fuel is a promising renewable resource, but it is a slow process even when catalysts are used to speed it along. In some cases, alcohols or sugars are added to boost the rate of hydrogen production, but these chemicals are destroyed as hydrogen is generated, meaning the approach is not renewable. In a separate strategy, researchers have tried using contaminants in wastewater to enhance hydrogen fuel generation. While titanium-based catalysts worked for both removing contaminants and generating hydrogen, the efficiencies were lower than expected for both steps because of their overlapping reaction sites. One way to reduce such interferences is to make catalysts by fusing together different conductive metals, thus creating separate places for reactions to occur. So, Chuanhao Li and colleagues wanted to combine cobalt oxide and titanium dioxide to create a dual-functioning catalyst that would break down common drugs in wastewater while also efficiently converting water into hydrogen for fuel.
To make the catalyst, the researchers coated nanoscale titanium dioxide crystals with a thin layer of cobalt oxide. Initial tests showed that this material didn’t produce much hydrogen, so as a next step, the team spiked this dual catalyst with 1% by weight of platinum nanoparticles — an efficient though expensive catalyst for generating hydrogen. In the presence of simulated sunlight, the platinum-impregnated catalyst degraded two antibiotics and produced substantial amounts of hydrogen. Finally, the team tested their product on real wastewater, water from a river in China and deionized water samples. Under simulated sunlight, the catalyst stimulated hydrogen production in all three samples. The greatest amount of hydrogen was obtained from the wastewater sample. The researchers say their catalyst could be a sustainable wastewater treatment option by generating hydrogen fuel at the same time.
Oil Platform Operator Charged for Neglecting Oil Spill
On January 15, 2021, prosecutors charged Patrick Huse with violations related to oil extraction on the Gulf of Mexico. Trial is scheduled for August 9, 2021.
Huse worked as a Person-In-Charge of an oil platform known as Main Pass 310A (MP-310A). In July 2015, workers noticed a sheen on the water indicating the discharge of oil and other hazardous substances into the Gulf. They alerted Huse the likely cause was sand building up in the filtration equipment. Rather than repairing or replacing the equipment, Huse directed the crew to close certain wells, but otherwise kept the platform operating. As a result, the discharges continued for four more days until a worker activated an emergency shutdown device. Around the time of the emergency shutdown, inspectors announced their plans to return to finish an inspection. Huse told the operators to omit mentioning the sheen, but tell inspectors they needed to shutdown in order to clean and replace equipment. Huse also falsified inspection log books, directing crew to note they conducted various inspections, when they had not.
Prosecutors charged Huse with violating the Clean Water Act for negligently and knowingly discharging oil and other hazardous substances into the Gulf, failure to report a discharge, and violating the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act for causing false statements to be entered into inspection logs (33 U.S.C. §§ 1321(b)(3), 1319(c)(1)(A), 1319(c)(2)(A); 43 U.S.C. § 1350(c)(2)).
The EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General Energy Investigations Unit conducted the investigation.
Andrew Walker Admitted Guilt for Illegal Industrial Waste Discharge
On January 27, 2021, Andrew Walker pleaded guilty to conspiracy and illegally discharging industrial waste into the Jackson, Mississippi, sewer system (18 U.S.C. § 371; 33 U.S.C. § 1319(c)(2)(A)). Walker, the owner of Rebel High Velocity Sewer Services, conspired with an industrial waste generator and transporter (Companies A and B) to illegally discharge wastes, avoiding the expense of proper disposal, and evading sewer usage fees.
In October of 2016, state and municipal authorities discovered that a local manufacturing company (Company A) had been discharging large quantities of its industrial waste directly into the sewer, and ordered it to stop. A few months later, to avoid the cost of pretreatment and legal disposal, Company A hired Company B (a trucking firm) to transport its waste to Rebel where they excavated the Jackson sewer line servicing Rebel’s facility. They surreptitiously discharged more than three million gallons of industrial waste into the same Jackson sewer system the manufacturer was prohibited from discharging.
The EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality conducted the investigation.
Oil Chem Admitted to Illegal Discharge
On January 14, 2021, Robert J. Massey pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act for illegally discharging landfill leachate (totaling more than 47 million gallons) into the Flint sanitary sewer system (POTW) from more than eight years (33 U.S.C. § 1319(c)(2) (A)). Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2021.
that reclaims and blends petroleum wastes into usable product. In 2008, Oil Chem received a pretreatment permit allowing it to discharge its liquid waste stream to the POTW. The pretreatment permit prohibited the discharge of organic waste, including landfill leachate.
With this knowledge, starting in 2007, Massey contracted for Oil Chem to receive leachate from a number of Michigan landfills. Workers offloaded the leachate from incoming tanker trucks to a tank onsite (number 103). On a daily basis, Oil Chem employees connected a hose to tank 103, discharging untreated landfill leachate overnight directly into the sanitary sewer. That practice continued until the City of Flint intervened in 2015. One of the landfills contacted the POTW directly about discharging to the sanitary sewer (to bypass Oil Chem) and disclosed that their leachate contained PCBs.
Oil Chem received an estimated $1.2 million from illegally discharging close to 48 million gallons of leachate into the sewer.
The EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division conducted the investigation.
Safety Director Admitted to Interfering with Dust Sampling
Steven Demoss (a Safety Director at Parkway Mine owned by Armstrong Coal Company) pleaded guilty to violating the Mine Safety and Health Act for interfering with dust-sampling procedures (30 U.S.C. § 820(c)). Demoss was the third defendant to plead guilty, following Ron Ivy in May 2019, and Billie Hearld in September 2019. A fourth, Jeremy Hackney, agreed to pre-trial diversion in January 2021. Trial is scheduled to begin against the remaining defendants on August 26, 2021.
The case involves seven former supervisory and safety officials at two mines formerly owned by Armstrong Coal Company. Prosecutors declined to charge Armstrong since it declared bankruptcy in November 2017. Prosecutors charged the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) by committing dust-sampling fraud (18 U.S.C. § 371). They attempted to interfere with lawful dust sampling at the Parkway and Kronos mines in a number of ways, including removing personal dust monitors from miners designated to obtain actual readings, shutting off dust monitors before the end of the sampling period, running dust monitors in clean rooms to dilute the time-weighted sample averages, and falsifying dust-sampling certification cards submitted to MSHA.
MSHA’s dust-sampling regulations protect miners from pneumoconiosis, commonly known as black lung, and silicosis, the most common coal-mine dust-caused diseases. By circumventing the dust-sampling procedures, Armstrong and its co-conspirators, avoided implementing ventilation and production controls that might cost more or slowed production, thus saving money at the expense of exposing miners to elevated levels of respirable coal dust.
The defendants represent corporate agents at every level of Armstrong’s management, including Section Foremen Billie Hearld, Jeremy Hackney, and Dwight Fulkerson; Safety Department Sampler John Ellis Scott; Assistant Safety Director Steven Demoss; Safety Directors Brian Casebier and Ron Ivy; Superintendent of Parkway Mine Charley Barber; and the manager of all of Armstrong Coal’s western Kentucky mines, Glendal Hardison.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted the investigation.
Criminal Penalty for RCRA Violation
A court sentenced Khaled Ebrigit to 18 months’ home confinement, as a condition of three-years’ probation. Ebrigit also will pay a $36,310 fine, $33,690 in restitution, and perform 780 hours of community service. Ebrigit pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for illegally transporting and disposing of hazardous waste (18 U.S.C. § 371; 42 U.S.C. §§ 6928(d)(1),(d)(2)(A)).
In October 2018, Conrex Property Management paid Ebrigit $5,000 to remove drums containing “chemical substances” from behind a property the company purchased. Ebrigit paid Martin Eldridge $400 to dispose of three 55-gallon drums and 64 ten-gallon drums, most of which were clearly labeled "flammable" with detailed handling precaution instructions. Fluids leaked from many of the drums. Eldridge loaded the drums into his van and dropped them off next to dumpsters at several apartment complexes throughout Columbus. Emergency personnel responded to reports of the illegal dumping, collecting the drums, and performing site cleanup. Eldridge previously pleaded guilty to violating RCRA and is scheduled for sentencing on March 3, 2021.
The EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Franklin County Sheriff’s office conducted the investigation.
Muscle Cramp? Drink Electrolytes, Not Water
If you reach for water when a muscle cramp strikes, you might want to think again. New research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has revealed drinking electrolytes instead of pure water can help prevent muscle cramps.
The study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, found that people who drank electrolyte enhanced water during and after exercise were less susceptible to muscle cramps than those who drank pure water.
Muscle cramps are a common painful condition affecting many people, including around 39 per cent of marathon runners, 52 per cent of rugby players and 60 per cent of cyclists.
Lead researcher Professor Ken Nosaka
, from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences, said the study builds on the evidence that a lack of electrolytes contributes to muscle cramps, not dehydration.
“Many people think dehydration causes muscle cramps and will drink pure water while exercising to prevent cramping,” he said. “We found that people who solely drink plain water before and after exercise could in fact be making them more prone to cramps. “This is likely because pure water dilutes the electrolyte concentration in our bodies and doesn’t replace what is lost during sweating.”
Professor Nosaka began researching the causes of muscle cramps after regularly suffering from them while playing tennis.
The study involved 10 men who ran on a downhill treadmill in a hot (35ºC) room for 40 to 60 minutes to lose 1.5 to 2% of their body weight through sweat in two conditions.
They drank plain water during and after exercise for one condition and took a water solution containing electrolytes in the other condition. The participants were given an electrical stimulation on their calves to induce muscle cramp. The lower the frequency of the electrical stimulation required, the more the participant is prone to muscle cramp.
“We found that the electrical frequency required to induce cramp increased when people drank the electrolyte water, but decreased when they consumed plain water,” said Professor Nosaka. “This indicates that muscles become more prone to cramp by drinking plain water, but more immune to muscle cramp by drinking the electrolyte water.”
Electrolytes are minerals including sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride. They are essential for muscle health and help the body to absorb water. Oral rehydration solutions contain electrolytes in specific proportions and can be made with water, salt and sugar. They are commonly found in supermarkets and pharmacies.
Professor Nosaka said electrolytes have many benefits for both athletes and the general population. “Electrolytes are vital to good health – they help the body to absorb water more effectively than plain water and replace essential minerals lost through sweat or illness,” he said. “People should consider drinking oral rehydration fluids instead of plain water during moderate to intense exercise, when it’s very hot or when you are sick from diarrhea or vomiting.”
Professor Nosaka is planning further research to find out the optimal amount of electrolytes to prevent muscle cramps as well as how they could help the elderly and pregnant women.
Swain Construction Inc. Fined $150K for Clean Water Act Violations
EPA has reached a settlement with Swain Construction Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska, for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
According to EPA, the concrete recycling and sales company discharged pollutants into protected waters adjacent to its facility without obtaining required permits. As part of the settlement, the company will restore the damaged streams and pay a $150,000 civil penalty.
“Enforcing environmental regulations protects the environment and ensures that companies following the rules aren’t at a disadvantage to those who violate the law,” said David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “The Agency is committed to keeping pollutants out of America’s waters and holding polluters responsible.”
In the settlement documents, EPA alleges that Swain Construction used mechanized equipment to move concrete rubble, construction debris, and other pollutants into Thomas Creek and Little Papillon Creek, impacting approximately 1,300 feet of stream channel. Two EPA inspections at the company’s facility in 2019 confirmed these unauthorized activities, as well as a lack of pollution controls that resulted in unauthorized stormwater discharges and wastewater runoff into Thomas Creek from the company’s dust-suppression efforts. Both streams are designated as “impaired” by the state of Nebraska. Waters are assessed as impaired when an applicable water quality standard is not being attained.
In addition to paying the penalty, the company also agreed to restore the impacted stream stretches and install facility controls to minimize or eliminate further discharges.
Under the Clean Water Act, parties are prohibited from discharging pollutants into water bodies unless they first obtain a permit. Failure to obtain a permit or follow the requirements of a permit may violate federal law.
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