The Justice Department and EPA filed a motion in federal court in Birmingham, Ala., seeking approval of a comprehensive environmental settlement with Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia Corporation to investigate and address the serious polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contamination in Anniston, Ala.
The settlement filed by the U.S. revises one lodged with the court on March 25. Revisions to the settlement were made to address concerns expressed by the State of Alabama and community members during a 60-day public comment period.
Solutia (formerly known as Monsanto Company) and Pharmacia have agreed to continue the emergency cleanups of area residences that are the worst contaminated, but under the revised settlement, the cleanup of residential properties can begin two years earlier than under the decree previously lodged with the court. Also, EPA, rather than the defendants, will perform the human health risk assessment - a thorough, comprehensive study and evaluation of risks to human health caused by PCBs. PCBs are considered a probable carcinogen and are linked to neurological and developmental problems.
This settlement mandates Solutia and Pharmacia hire EPA-approved contractors to conduct a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). The RI/FS will comprehensively study any areas of contamination, including, but not limited to, PCB contamination and evaluate what risks environmental pollutants that are found may pose to public health and the environment. The RI/FS will determine the cleanup options and suggest a strategy for restoring this community. The cleanup will be strictly reviewed and overseen by EPA, as is the immediate cleanup of residences where high levels of PCBs already have been found.
The study will cover all areas where PCBs have been found, including the Solutia facility, the landfills, creeks, rivers, lakes, flood plains and residential, commercial and agricultural properties that surround the facility.
Included in the settlement is an agreement to establish a $3.2 million foundation to assist in funding special education needs for Anniston-area children. In response to public comments, funding has been revised so that monies are paid into the foundation each year of the life of the fund.
Other revisions made to the decree as a result of public comments are that the amount of stipulated penalties has been increased and the defendants have agreed not to challenge listing the site on the National Priorities List in accordance with provisions in the decree. There are provisions in the decree for the state to comment on contractors selected to work at the site.
During the public hearing, many people expressed concerns that the decree did not provide for medical monitoring and health studies in Anniston. EPA does not have the authority or the expertise to conduct health studies and medical monitoring. Therefore, the revised decree does not provide for medical monitoring and health studies. However, EPA is committed to providing full support to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is the agency that performs that type of work. ATSDR has already performed extensive work in the Anniston community and has committed to continuing its work there.
Solutia Inc.'s Anniston plant encompasses approximately 70 acres of residential and commercial land and is about one mile west of downtown. The facility is one of two in the U.S. that produced PCBs (Aroclors). PCB production ceased in 1971 in Anniston.
The revised consent decree was filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala., along with a Motion to Enter and Memorandum in Support of the Motion to Enter, public comments, and the United States' responses to the comments. The settlement will not be effective until the Court approves it.
For more information, see
DOT AWARDS $12.8 MILLION IN HAZARDOUS MATERIALS PLANNING AND TRAINING GRANTS
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced grants to states, territories and Native American tribes totaling almost $12.8 million for planning and training to improve response to hazardous materials transportation incidents.
The funds were made available by the DOT¦s Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA). The grant awards, under the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) program, support the development of emergency response strategies tailored to regional needs. The grants are funded through registration fees paid by shippers and carriers of certain hazardous materials.
More than one million emergency responders, as well as 1,700 local emergency planning committees from across the nation, have received training and support under HMEP since the program began in 1993.
Other federal agencies participate in the program by assisting DOT in developing hazardous materials curriculum guidelines. These agencies include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Departments of Energy, Labor, and Health and Human Services.
The six largest grants were awarded to California, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, New York, and Florida.
RSPA has public responsibilities for safe and secure movement of hazardous materials to industry and consumers by all transportation modes, including the nation's pipelines; rapid response to emergencies by government agencies; training for transportation safety professionals; and applying science and technology to meet national transportation needs.
For additional information, go to the RSPA website http://www.rspa.dot.gov/
(click on HAZMAT Safety) or contact James.Mitchell@rspa.dot.gov or
EPA CHALLENGES BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT LEADERS TO REDUCE WASTE
U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher has challenged leading business, government and other institutional leaders to think and act creatively on waste reduction.
Speaking at the WasteWise Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 10, Fisher noted that waste reduction has impacts far beyond traditional recycling and waste prevention programs. She pointed out that waste reduction not only improves an organization's efficiency and saves money, but it also conserves natural resources, saves energy, prevents air and water pollution and affects climate change.
For instance, WasteWise Partners have accomplished waste reductions that keep valuable materials out of landfills and incinerators ¡ this has led to carbon reductions equivalent to removing 19 million cars from the road every year. WasteWise, a voluntary partnership program launched by EPA in 1994, provides guidance and recognition to nearly 1,300 participating organizations working to find practical methods to reduce municipal solid waste and improve financial performance. The WasteWise program each year runs a highly competitive awards program, and this year's winners range from huge corporations to small businesses to schools to tribes.
To reinforce the theme of expanded benefits of recycling and waste prevention beyond conventional program boundaries, the Awards Ceremony for the first time gave special recognition to groups launching the following initiatives:
- the charter partners in the new National Waste Minimization Partnership Program, which focuses on reducing hazardous waste chemicals;
- utility industry groups working with EPA in a new Coal Combustion Products Partnership, encouraging use rather than disposal of these valuable materials;
- the initial recipients of new WasteWise Climate Change awards, honoring their voluntary waste prevention and recycling activities targeted at greenhouse gas reduction;
- pilot state governments working with EPA in new waste reduction partnerships; and
- WasteWise partners who responded most successfully to a new Electronics Waste Reduction Challenge.
For further information about EPA's WasteWise program, see the WasteWise
website at: http://www.epa.gov/wastewise or contact the WasteWise Helpline
at 1-800-EPA-WISE (372-9473).
FAA PROPOSES FINE AGAINST NORTHWEST AIRLINES FOR HAZMAT TRAINING VIOLATIONS
The Federal Aviation Administration, Southern Region, has proposed to assess a $130,000 civil penalty against Northwest Airlines of St. Paul, Minn., for allegedly violating Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
The FAA alleges that on July 25, 2000, during an inspection at the McGhee-Tyson Airport in Alcoa, Tenn., it was discovered that Northwest failed to maintain records documenting that 22 customer service agents and four air freight employees had completed initial and recurrent training in the handling of dangerous goods. Federal regulations require employees who handle dangerous goods to have at least general awareness training to recognize hazardous materials.
Northwest has 30 days from receipt of the FAA notice to submit a reply to
THREE CALIFORNIA MEN CHARGED WITH HAZARDOUS WASTE VIOLATIONS
Three California men have been indicted in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles on multiple counts of violating federal hazardous waste laws. The men are: Homayoun Pourat of Beverly Hills, Calif., President of AAD Distribution and Dry Cleaning Services Inc.; Hormoz Pourat of Encino, Calif., AAD Vice President and Behzad Kahoolyzadeh of West Los Angeles, Calif., Manager of AAD. Until it was shut down in January 2001, AAD was one of California's largest handlers of perchloroethylene (PERC).
Kahoolyzadeh was arrested on Oct. 11. Hormoz Pourat is in custody in Colorado after having been convicted on charges related to AAD in that state and Homayoun Pourat is a fugitive. All three men allegedly improperly stored and transported waste PERC, a dry cleaning fluid.
AAD would pick up waste PERC in 55-gallon drums and would issue certificates to the dry cleaners assuring them that their PERC waste would be transported, stored and disposed of in accordance with all applicable hazardous waste laws. PERC is a cancer-causing chemical that is the major ground water pollutant in Southern California.
The indictment alleges in 1999 and 2000 the defendants stored the waste in amounts greatly exceeding allowed limits, as set out in the ADD facility's hazardous waste permit. The indictment also alleges the defendants used unapproved containers to transport the waste and illegally stored the waste at a facility called Right Choice, which was next door to the AAD facility in Vernon, Calif. Finally, the indictment alleges the wastes were transported to and stored at other facilities as well.
If convicted, each defendant could receive a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine for each count.
EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of
Transportation, the California Environmental Protection Agency's Department
of Toxic Substances Control, the City of Vernon, Calif., and the Colorado
Attorney General's office investigated the case with the assistance of EPA's
National Enforcement Investigations Center. The case is being prosecuted by
the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles.
CLEAN AIR ACT (CAA)
- November 14, 2002 - Each producer, importer, or exporter of a Class II controlled substance must submit a report to EPA providing information on the production, imports, and exports of such chemicals during the previous quarter.
- November 19, 2002 - Sources subject to organic hazardous air pollutant emission controls under 40 CFR 63, Subpart G, for synthetic organic chemical manufacturing industry production processes must submit semiannual report.