October 28, 2019
EPA has updated the guidebook entitled “Managing Hazardous Waste: A Guide for Small Businesses
.” The Guide provides an overview of the federal hazardous waste regulations to give business owners and operators a basic understanding of their hazardous waste management responsibilities. It answers questions like “Do hazardous waste regulations apply to me?” “How do I know which generator category I am?” and “What kinds of requirements do I have to follow?” The Guide will help businesses get on the road to proper hazardous waste management, a critical step in protecting human health and the environment. Although the Guide is targeted to small businesses, the information in the Guide may be helpful to any business managing hazardous waste.
The Guide has been updated to reflect the changes to the regulations for hazardous waste generators since the previous version of the publication, including the 2016 Generator Improvements Rule, wastes added to the universal waste program, Subpart K for academic laboratories, the Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Rule, and electronic reporting/e-Manifest.
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Upcycling Polyethylene Plastic Waste into Lubricant Oils
Plastics pervade almost every aspect of modern life, but once they have served their purpose, it’s tough to get rid of them. That’s because the polymers degrade very slowly in landfills or the environment, and recycling is inefficient. Now researchers reporting in ACS Central Science
have developed a catalyst that can transform polyethylene –– the type of plastic used to make grocery bags and other packaging –– into high-quality liquid products, such as motor oils and waxes.
Hundreds of millions of tons of plastic are produced worldwide each year, and the majority of these materials are discarded after a single use. Most end up in landfills or the environment. Because of technical challenges, even the plastic that does get recycled typically generates materials that are of lower quality and value than the original polymer. Kenneth Poeppelmeier, Aaron Sadow, Massimiliano Delferro and colleagues wanted to develop a catalyst that could be used to selectively upcycle polyethylene into high-quality, value-added products.
The researchers deposited platinum nanoparticles onto a strontium titanate support. At moderate pressure and temperature, this catalyst cleaved carbon-carbon bonds in polyethylene to produce high-quality liquid hydrocarbons. These liquids could be used as motor oil, lubricants or waxes, or further processed to make ingredients for detergents and cosmetics. The new catalyst preferentially bound and cleaved longer hydrocarbon chains, so that the products were all of a similar, intermediate size. In contrast, a commercially available catalyst generated lower-quality products with a broader size range and many short hydrocarbons, limiting the products’ usefulness.
Conservation Groups Challenge Repeal of Clean Water Act Protections in Federal Court
Conservation groups challenged in court the administration’s effort to strip away clean water protections from rivers, lakes, streams and other waters that feed drinking-water sources for 200 million Americans and 32 million people in the South, or seven out of ten Southerners.
The legal challenge
, filed on October 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, opens a major court battle over the EPA’s and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ repeal of clean water protections under the Clean Water Act, one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. The repeal of these standards is one of several steps announced by the administration to gut long-standing clean water protections, including a proposal currently subject to public comment that would leave many waters vulnerable to pollution and fill by redefining what waters are protected.
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the challenge on behalf of American Rivers, Charleston Waterkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Rappahannock, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.
The lawsuit contends that EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated a long-standing law that prohibits agencies from altering basic environmental safeguards without giving the public adequate notice and a chance to weigh in. According to the lawsuit, the agencies failed at their most basic responsibilities: evaluating the effect of their reckless actions and giving the public a meaningful opportunity to comment on their decision to eliminate scientifically backed protections for streams and wetlands.
“Clean water is a way of life we take for granted in America, but now large polluters are trying to dismantle bipartisan water protections in place for almost 50 years,” said Blan Holman, a managing attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center which is representing the conservation groups in court. “The administration is pretending that pollution dumped upstream doesn’t flow downstream, but its plan puts the water used by hundreds of millions of Americans for drinking, bathing, fishing, and business at risk. We are going to court to protect clean water across the country.”
“Without the Clean Water Rule’s critical protections, innumerable small streams and wetlands that are essential for drinking water supplies, flood protection, and fish and wildlife habitat would be vulnerable to unregulated pollution, dredging and filling," said Bob Irvin, president and CEO of American Rivers. “We will keep fighting for the Clean Water Rule because every American should have clean drinking water and healthy rivers.”
The agencies have 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.
Man Admits to Installing Emissions Defeat Devices
Brian Mellott pleaded guilty on On August 21, 2019 to conspiring to impede the lawful functions of the EPA and the DOT, and to violate the Clean Air Act (18 U.S.C. § 371).
Mellott worked as an analyst at Rockwater Northeast LLC, a company that serviced the fracking industry in Pennsylvania. In the course of his employment, he conspired to modify the emissions systems on a number of Rockwater heavy-duty diesel trucks by using “defeat devices.” He and co-conspirators concealed defeat device purchases in Rockwater’s records by mislabeling them as exhaust systems, including in invoices approved by Mellott.
Gavin Rexer, Dennis Paulhamus, Joseph Powell, John Joseph, and Timothy Sweitzer previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the government and to violate the Clean Air Act. To pass inspections, they drove the modified commercial motor vehicles to state- approved inspection stations, including Sweitzer’s Garage.
This case was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Distracting Phone Call Led to 1,000 Gallon Oil Spill
Robert La Rue Webb pleaded guilty on August 14, 2019, to violating the Clean Water Act for discharging oil into the Willamette River (33 U.S.C. §§ 1319(c)(1)(A), 1321 (b) (3)).
On January 22, 2018, Webb pumped oil into a 10,000-gallon used-oil tank at the Union Pacific Albina rail yard in Portland. While operating the pump, the tank overflowed while Webb was distracted on a phone call. More than 1,000 gallons of oil entered a stormwater drain and discharged into the river, resulting in a sheen on the river's surface.
This case was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Drum Reconditioner Guilty of Improper Storage and Disposal of Hazardous Waste
Thomas Toy pleaded guilty on August 1, 2019, to violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for illegally storing and disposing of corrosive and hazardous waste (42 U.S.C. § 6928(d)(2)(A)). Sentencing is scheduled for November 4, 2019.
Toy owned Superior Barrel and Drum, a company specializing in the cleaning and reconditioning of industrial drums. He directed and supervised operations, including the storage and disposal of large amounts of waste onsite. Superior did not possess a permit to store or dispose of hazardous waste. From September 2013, to September 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed approximately 1,800 containers of waste from the property.
This case was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Over $3 Million in Penalties for Burning High Sulfur Fuel
A court sentenced Ionian Shipping & Trading Corp. (Ionian ST) and Lily Shipping Ltd. (Lily) on August 22, 2019 to each pay $1.5 million, complete four-year terms of probation, and implement environmental compliance plans. The companies previously pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and obstruction of justice related to the burning of dirty fuel on the M/T Ocean Princess
(33 U.S.C. § 1908 (a), 18 U.S.C. § 1505). The court rejected the plea agreement with Ionian Management Inc. (Ionian M).
In July 2018, U.S. Coast Guard inspectors boarded the vessel in St. Croix to conduct a routine Port State Control inspection. The inspection revealed that the vessel was using high-sulfur diesel fuel as it transited through, and operated within, the U.S. Caribbean Emission Control Area (ECA). MARPOL Annex VI and related EPA regulations prohibit the use of high-sulfur fuel within the ECA. Ionian M, a New York City-based company, authorized the transfer of high-sulfur diesel fuel from the ship’ s cargo tanks to be used as bunker for the main engine, generators, and auxiliary equipment. Lily and Ionian ST, Greece-domiciled companies owned and operated the ship, respectively. The ship had been violating the ECA by using high-sulfur fuel since January 2016.
During the Coast Guard inspection, the Chief Mate, Rey Espulgar, instructed lower level crewmembers to lie to the inspectors about where the ship took on its fuel. The Master, Stamatios Alekidis, emailed Ionian M and requested authorization to transfer high -sulfur diesel cargo to be used as fuel. After Ionian M authorized the transfer, Alekidis informed Espulgar and Chief Engineer Athanasios Pittas, about the authorization with Espulgar and Pittas ensuring completion of the transfer. Espulgar falsified the oil record book (ORB), Part II, by failing to log that cargo had been transferred to the engine room. Pittas falsified the ORB, Part I, by indicating that the bunkers had actually been loaded from a shore-side facility in St. Martin, French West Indies (F.W.I.). Pittas created a fictitious Bunker Delivery Note that indicated the bunkers had originated in St. Martin, F.W.I. and a fuel depot employee counter-signed it.
Ionian ST and Lily pleaded guilty to violating APPS, falsifying the ORBs, and creating false bunker delivery notes. Espulgar, Alekidis, and Pittas pleaded guilty to violating APPS for their roles in the offenses. A court sentenced all three to complete three-year terms of probation. Espulgar also will pay a $3,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Man Jailed and Fined for Lead Discharges During Bridge Repair
A court sentenced Andrew Manganas to 46 months’ incarceration, followed by two years’ supervised release, and ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine. Manganas previously pleaded guilty to stealing from union plans, wire fraud, and discharging pollutants (blast media, lead paint and rusted metal) into the Susquehanna River without a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit (18 U.S.C. §§ 664, 1343; 33 U.S.C. § 1319(c)(2)). The court fined Manganas’ defunct bridge painting company, Panthera Painting, Inc., to pay $200,000 on the same charges.
Manganas worked in the industrial painting business with his father’s company for many years. The government prosecuted that company and Manganas’ older brother in 2002 in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Northern District of West Virginia for similar environmental offenses.
The defendants in this matter repeatedly delayed the sentencing, and the parties filed multiple sentencing memos in the two weeks leading up to sentencing (three by the United States). The four-hour sentencing hearing focused on whether the government had proven six sentencing enhancements. For the financial crimes, the parties disputed what is loss, and whether there was any and, if so, how much. With regard to the CWA offenses, the parties disputed whether the United States had proven that the pollutants discharged into the river contained lead, a toxic water pollutant, or that the paint debris was hazardous waste which triggered Section 2Q1.2(b)(1)(A) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The parties further disputed whether Section 2Q1.2(b)(4) applied to a CWA case due to the wording of that guideline [see different wording in 2Q1.3(b)(4)), role in the offense (4 level increase] and obstruction of justice (whether Manganas had instructed a worker not to appear before the grand jury and then to lie after the employee’s arrest and his subsequent testimony). The court ruled for the government on all enhancements, although it stated that the applicability of Section 2Q1.2(b)(1)(A) was a close question which it would let the Third Circuit focus on. However, there is an appellate waiver in place. The government sought a sentence at the high end of the 46-57 month range while Manganas wanted probation.
Back in September 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation awarded J.D. Eckman a contract for a multi-year rehabilitation project for the George Wade Bride as the prime contractor. The Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration’s federal aid program reimbursed 90% of the $42,480,400 contract cost. The project was scheduled to be completed in May 2012, but was extended to
September 2013. J.D. Eckman hired Manganas and his company, Panthera Painting, Inc., in October 2009, for a $9,875,000 subcontract, subsequently increased to more than $10 million. This subcontract covered the blasting, resurfacing, and painting of the structural steel on the bridge.
The contract required each contractor and subcontractor to submit certified payroll reports for every worker and every pay period to certify they paid each worker the prevailing wage. Manganas, however, only paid partial wages in a wage check that did not include overtime pay. He then paid overtime in a separate “per diem” check without properly deducting taxes and remittances, some of which were owed to the unions of which the workers were members. By under-reporting wages, Manganas defrauded the federal agencies paying for the bridge work. By failing to properly remit wages to the unions, he effectively stole money from the workers and the union.
Additionally, Manganas and Panthera knowingly discharged pollutants into the Susquehanna River (including abrasive paint blasting materials, waste paint, and metal) in violation of the CWA. At their direction, workers used air hoses to blow debris off the bridge into the river, poked holes in material used for containment to allow wastes to discharge into the river, and emptied pans used to collect paint waste, among other things, without a permit.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the U.S. DOT Office of Inspector General, the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Administration Lawsuit Against California for Cap and Trade Agreement with the Canadian Province of Quebec
The Trump Administration has filed a civil complaint against the state of California, several of its officers, the California Air Resources Board, and the Western Climate Initiative Inc., for entering a cap and trade agreement with the Canadian Province of Quebec.
“The state of California has veered outside of its proper constitutional lane to enter into an international emissions agreement. The power to enter into such agreements is reserved to the federal government, which must be able to speak with one voice in the area of U.S. foreign policy,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “California’s unlawful cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec undermines the President’s ability to negotiate competitive agreements with other nations, as the President sees fit.”
The Supreme Court has recognized that the interests of cities, counties and states, and the American people as a whole, requires the federal power in foreign relations to be reposed exclusively in the federal government, keeping it free from local interference.
According to the complaint, filed in the Eastern District of California, the defendants have pursued or are attempting to pursue an independent foreign policy in the area of greenhouse gas regulation. The Constitution prohibits states from making treaties or compacts with foreign powers, yet California entered into a complex, integrated cap-and-trade program with the Canadian province of Quebec in 2013 without congressional approval.
According to the lawsuit, California’s agreement with Quebec, which the Western Climate Initiative facilitates (and where the Western Climate Initiative’s board is run by California and Quebec governmental actors), interferes with the proper execution of these federal responsibilities. Accordingly, the complaint asks the court to uphold the exclusive role of the federal government in conducting US foreign policy by declaring the agreement — and related statutes and regulations —unconstitutional, and enjoining their operation.
Delaware Senator Tom Carper said that the lawsuit is “… the latest act of retaliation against California for working with four major automakers on standards to reduce global warming pollution.” He published a timeline and list
of ways the Administration is challenging California’s environmental regulations.
PFAS: Controlling, Preventing, and Understanding Exposure
(by National Academies of Science, Megan Lowry
PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are ubiquitous fluorinated organic compounds found widely in manufactured products, from firefighting foam to stain-resistant carpets. These water- and oil-repellent compounds are known to degrade slowly over time, and have been found in humans, drinking water, and even in Arctic ecosystems.
What do we know about human exposure to PFAS? How can contaminated media be treated? How can these compounds be controlled, and how can exposure be prevented? Last month, the Environmental Health Matters Initiative of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine hosted a two-day workshop that brought together experts and stakeholders from academia, research, government, and industry to address these and other important questions about PFAS.
The term “PFAS” describes a group of chemicals, rather than one distinct chemical. Not every chemical in the PFAS group has been carefully studied, and research has yet to define the properties of every PFAS compound, how they act in the environment, and what their effects could be in humans. Steve Korzeniowski, a representative for FluoroCouncil, cautioned that PFAS “are extremely different in terms of chemistry, in terms of property … calling everything PFAS is really not appropriate when you look at the functionality.”
Understanding PFAS Exposure
Tom Webster, professor of environmental health at Boston University’s School of Public Health, explained that exposure can happen when people ingest, inhale, or touch PFAS. Ingesting water that is contaminated by PFAS is one route to exposure, and some evidence shows that PFAS in one’s diet can also lead to exposure. Two less-studied paths to exposure are indoor exposure, which can happen when a person inhales air or ingests dust, and exposure through contact between the skin and personal care products.
Jennifer Field, professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at Oregon State University, said that manufacturing waste containing PFAS compounds can be found in air emissions, landfill waste, and wastewater treatment plants. PFAS also get into the food chain through irrigation or environmental contamination, and can be transferred to fetuses through breast milk or cord blood. Around 6 million people in the U.S. live with drinking water that contain PFAS at levels higher than the EPA recommendation, making drinking water a key issue for exposure.
Webster noted that many uncertainties about PFAS exposure remain: dietary exposure, indoor exposure, dermal exposure, and exposure to newer PFAS all require more research.
Controlling and Preventing PFAS Exposure
Throughout the workshop, experts pointed out opportunities for progress in controlling and preventing PFAS exposure. Holly Davies, a senior toxicologist at the Washington State Department of Health, noted that prevention can make expensive cleanup efforts unnecessary, and that the economic benefits of preventing exposure are numerous.
Assessing alternatives is one possible route, and could identify safer compounds to replace PFAS in manufacturing. A number of panelists said that a variety of experts and disciplines should be involved in alternatives assessment, and that some alternatives will require changing manufacturing processes and training requirements for those who work with these chemicals. Projects are already underway to implement safer alternatives for PFAS in firefighting foam, carpets, and cosmetics, as well as paper and cardboard that come in to contact with food.
Carla Ng, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, described a framework for characterizing essential uses, suggesting PFAS only be used when they are critical to the functionality of a product. This approach would reduce exposure by simply limiting the amount of PFAS ever produced.
Others proposed improving communication about PFAS. While some panel experts were wary of numbing the public with too many environmental health warnings or product labels, others emphasized the importance of open communication with communities exposed to PFAS.
Challenges in controlling and preventing PFAS exposure remain. Davies remarked on the lack of basic information on the chemical makeup of products containing PFAS. Others stated that most of the information about PFAS is proprietary and protected by businesses, including how much of these compounds are being produced and where. Research funding lacks coordination, and a considerable portion of the financial burden of dealing with PFAS contamination has fallen to taxpayers. Regulation and cleanup efforts are often spread across a patchwork of local, state, and federal requirements.
Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, added, “What goes around comes around. Maybe that’s the story of PFAS … the fact that they will keep coming around if we keep putting them in to the environment.”
View recordings of the event here
PFAS in Synthetic Turf?
Previously, public health attention focused on the shredded tire infill but has now extended to chemicals in the plastic “blades” covering the fields. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Ecology Center have amended their Data Quality Act complaint
on EPA’s Synthetic Turf Tire Crumb Rubber Report, reiterating the need for federal agencies to examine the carpet itself.
In September, the Ecology Center, working with PEER, found elemental fluorine
in artificial turf blades, suggesting that PFAS is an ingredient in the carpet grass fibers or a byproduct of the manufacturing process. It also found specific PFAS chemicals in discarded turf backing and an adjacent wetland. Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), often referred to as “forever chemicals,” do not break down in the environment and bio-accumulate in the food chain. Human exposures to PFAS are associated with cancer, birth defects, and other impairments.
On October 14, 2019, the Synthetic Turf Council put out a statement
that did not deny the presence of PFAS but nonetheless blasted the groups’ “inaccurate, non-verified report using questionable test methods.” Yet, it is hard for industry to dispute that –
- Two specific PFAS substances were found in backing of two different turf samples: one had 6:2 FTSA, the other had PFOA from samples taken by three PhD scientists who collected samples using proper lab protocols;
- Shaw Industries, one of the companies that produced the turf that tested positive for elemental fluorine, admits, “These chemicals are commonly used by synthetic turf manufacturers as a non-stick agent…. We are exploring alternatives with our technical teams and suppliers but have not yet identified a substitute that provides the non-stick properties required for manufacturing synthetic turf.” (emphasis added); and
- ACTGlobal also concedes it uses a “fluorelastomer process aid” (likely a PFAS) in the manufacture of synthetic grass.
Significantly, the groups can only test for 36 PFAS because widespread claims of confidential business information prevent release of data about hundreds of other PFAS compounds.
“We are asking manufacturers to fully disclose all PFAS chemistry used, including fluoropolymers and any other fluorinated processing aids used in the production of turfgrass fibers and backing," said Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center. “Industry continues to claim this chemistry is proprietary, however, the public has a right to know.”
Two concerns about PFAS in the turf blades and backing is the direct chemical exposure to children, and the potential for PFAS to leach off the fields into groundwater, surface water and eventually, drinking water.
“PFAS in synthetic turf should sound alarm bells for parents and for all municipalities with these fields,” stated PEER Science and Policy Director Kyla Bennett, noting that this is also potentially a huge liability concern for industry. “For the health of our children and communities, we urgently need to take a hard look at PFAS in synthetic turf.”
NDEE State and Local Emissions Inventory System (SLEIS) Training Webinar November 18
The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy will use a new online air emissions reporting system for the 2019 reporting year. The new application is the State and Local Emissions Inventory System, more commonly referred to as SLEIS. In this session, instruction will be provided on user registration, general program navigation, data entry and submission.
The trainer for this session is Dave Brown. He has conducted the air emissions inventory program for the NDEE since 1995. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree from New Mexico State University. Dave enjoys coaching track and field for a local high school team and a youth club.
The webinar moderator is Belinda Fowler, NDEE Small Business Environmental Assistance Coordinator.
The training will be provided from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 18, 2019 To register for the session:
- Go to NDEE-State and Local Emissions Inventory System (SLEIS) Webinar
- Click "Register"
- On the registration form, enter your information and then click "Submit"
Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email message with instructions on how to join the event. For assistance, contact: email@example.com.
Dave Brown has conducted the air emissions inventory program for the NDEE since 1995. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree from New Mexico State University. Dave enjoys coaching track and field for a local high school team and a youth club.
The webinar moderator is Belinda Fowler, NDEE Small Business Environmental Assistance Coordinator.
Opportunities in Agriculture to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Up to 10% Identified by MPCA
Two new reports released from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) highlight agricultural conservation practices that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota, while also protecting water quality and soil health.
MPCA’s technical report, Greenhouse Gas Reduction Potential of Agricultural Best Management Practices
, estimates the impact of 21 different agricultural conservation practices. The most beneficial practices are those that get more perennial vegetation on the land, including hedgerows, shelterbelts, buffers, grass waterways, and filter strips. Practices such as reduced tillage, nutrient management, and cover crops can be effective strategies for existing cropland. Scientists say that though emission reductions per acre are small, implementing best management practices across the 20 million acres of Minnesota cropland could reduce overall agriculture emissions by up to 10%— the air pollution equivalent of taking thousands of cars off the road.
BWSR’s report, Climate Change Trends and Action Plan,
examined the impact of state-funded conservation programs and practices on private lands, which make up approximately 75 percent of Minnesota’s land area. In the report, BWSR scientists identified the greenhouse gas emission reductions provided through agricultural conservation practices, retirement of marginal agricultural lands, and wetland conservation and restoration. Recently implemented conservation measures are already making a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Combined, BWSR programs have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 600,000 tons of CO2, or 2.2% of estimated emissions from cropland in Minnesota.
Through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP), farmers across the state have implemented nearly 1,700 new conservation practices. On average, each practice reduces 21 tons of carbon emissions each year. That means Minnesota farmers are keeping over 36,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions out of the atmosphere.
Both reports were highlighted at an Oct. 17 event at Twin Oaks Farm in Northfield. Landowner Mike Peterson hosted staff from BWSR, MPCA, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Rice Soil and Water Conservation District, showing how he’s implemented strip-till and cover crops, both of which improve soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The event included a soil health demonstration and a field site visit to view cover crops and strip-tilling machinery.
Lubrication Technologies to Pay More Than $61,000 for Storage Tank Violations
Lubrication Technologies Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $61,680 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for violations related to operating and maintaining storage tanks and piping at its Roseville facility. An MPCA inspection at the company, a distributor of lubricants and other petroleum products, revealed a number of violations including three oil spills that had not been properly cleaned up. In addition to the penalty, Lubrication Technologies is taking corrective actions for all violations.
Businesses that store or sell petroleum products or other chemicals are required to follow specific rules, inspection schedules, and operating practices to ensure tanks and piping do not corrode or leak. When a leak occurs, the tank owner must ensure it is adequately contained. The MPCA found 10 separate instances where Lubrication Technologies did not follow the practices listed in its aboveground storage tank permit.
Some sections of the company’s underground piping are required to be cleaned, capped off, or otherwise properly closed when no longer in use. MPCA inspectors found that proper procedures were not followed in at least two instances.
The MPCA inspector also noted that company personnel had failed to replace a broken hose, and it had leaked oil into the soil in several places.
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 calculated economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
Proposed Rollbacks of Oil and Gas Regulations Violate State Rights, Endanger Public Health According to NM Governor
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) submitted formal comments last Thursday to the EPA in strong opposition to its proposal to roll back regulations on air emissions from the oil and gas industry.
“The Trump administration’s ongoing assault on the environment is unconscionable and must be fought at every opportunity,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “This is a federal government that has made clear it wants to move backward – at a moment in time when we can least afford it. In the face of a climate crisis, and with a federal government that is committed to an anti-science, anti-environment regulatory approach, states like New Mexico will take up the mantle of leadership. We will lead the transition to a renewable energy economy and take aggressive steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Trump administration will not slow our progress on climate action.”
Last month, the federal government proposed revisions to the New Source Performance Standards for the oil and gas sector. These revisions would relax emissions regulations by removing the transmission and storage portions of the industry from regulation and rescinding limits for methane emissions.
“If enacted, these rules will undermine our efforts to curb methane emissions and address the growing ozone problem across the state,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “This proposal is seriously flawed.”
In addition to the public health and environmental implications of the proposed revisions, NMED also argues the process used by the EPA to propose the revisions preempts state law and failed to adequately engage states.
An NMED representative provided testimony
on the rollbacks before the EPA last week in Dallas.
$20,000 Penalty for Solid Waste and Air Pollution Violations at Fitchburg-Westminster Landfill
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized Resource Control, Inc. of Foxboro $20,000 for violating solid waste and air pollution control regulations at the Fitchburg-Westminster Landfill, located in Westminster.
MassDEP inspected the Fitchburg-Westminster Landfill on three occasions in 2018 – November 29, December 13 and December 20 – and observed off-site odors and a failure to prevent leachate and contact stormwater from discharging to nearby groundwater resources.
In a negotiated consent order, Resource Control agreed to comply with the applicable solid waste and air pollution control regulations and pay the $20,000 penalty. To address off-site odors, the company is required to install a back-up flare for landfill gas treatment, and will pay for a qualified third-party odor consultant to set up a 24-hour complaint hotline and to respond to all odor complaints. The third-party odor consultant will provide the results of each odor complaint inspection directly to MassDEP. Resource Control will also take immediate actions to prevent discharges of leachate from the landfill to the environment.
“Operations at the landfill have caused odors in the surrounding neighborhoods in violation of the company’s operating permits,” said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “The third-party odor consultant will investigate all odor complaints at the landfill and will report the results to MassDEP and Resource Control for appropriate response.”
Miles Chemical Co. Cited for TSCA Violations
EPA settled with Miles Chemical Company Inc. of Arleta, California, for failing to timely report chemical substances it imported. Under the settlement, the company will pay a $45,000 penalty.
“Reporting to EPA gives the agency data to help assess the potential human health and environmental effects of these chemicals,” said Mike Stoker, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This data also helps inform communities of risks posed by chemicals used in U.S. commerce.”
Between 2012 and 2015, Miles Chemical Company failed to timely submit forms to EPA documenting the import of large quantities of two chemicals, according to the agency. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), chemical importers and manufactures are required to submit Chemical Data Reporting
(CDR) information to EPA every four years. This allows EPA to track the chemicals being imported into the country, assess potential human health and environmental effects of these chemicals, and make the non-confidential business information it receives available to the public.
Under TSCA, EPA maintains a comprehensive list of more than 85,000 chemical substances called the TSCA Inventory. Chemical substances on this list that are manufactured or imported at volumes of 25,000 pounds or greater must be reported to EPA, as required by TSCA’s CDR Rule. Unlike many other federal programs, TSCA is directly implemented and enforced by EPA, not states.
Two Companies Cited for FIFRA Violations
EPA announced settlements with two companies for the improper storage and labeling
of agricultural pesticides
. Ag Production Company and Watson Ag Chemicals Inc. have agreed to pay a total of $44,363 in civil penalties. The companies have corrected all identified compliance issues.
“Improper storage of pesticides can lead to spills or leaks that may endanger facility workers and the community,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “We are pleased that these companies have corrected the violations and ensure the proper management of pesticides.”
EPA asserted both companies violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA
), which regulates the distribution, sale and use of pesticides in the United States. Ag Production Company agreed to pay $24,697; Watson Ag Chemicals will pay $19,666.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation, on behalf of EPA, inspected the Turlock, California, facility of Ag Production Company and the Caruthers, California, facility of Watson Ag Chemical Inc. in 2017. The violations at both facilities included:
- Distribution of misbranded pesticides from bulk storage tanks bearing labels that were damaged or incomplete.
- Failure to keep containment structures liquid tight by sealing cracks and seams.
- Failure to meet the holding capacity requirements for existing containment pads and/or secondary containment units.
- Failure to maintain records.
FIFRA and its supporting regulations help safeguard the public, the environment, and facility workers by ensuring that pesticides are used, stored, and disposed of safely and that pesticide containers are adequately cleaned. Pesticide registrants, refillers (i.e., those that repackage pesticides into refillable containers), and others in the business of selling and distributing, pesticides must comply with applicable regulations and pertinent sections of their labels. All who apply pesticides, including consumers, are required to follow the label instructions for proper use, storage, and disposal.
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