As a result of an investigation of Koppers facilities initiated in 1996, EPA found thousands of violations, mostly under the Clean Water Act (CWA). EPA investigations revealed that Koppers failed to submit monitoring data required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and pretreatment permits issued under the CWA. Without proper monitoring and reporting, regulatory agencies cannot adequately assess the potential for environmental harm that may be caused by a discharger of pollutants.
The company also violated discharge limits in its NPDES permits. These permit violations by Koppers throughout the company resulted in the discharge of pollutants above the permitted amounts. Some of these pollutants are designated as hazardous chemicals and are toxic in fresh water in small quantities. The discharge of this industrial wastewater over the permit limits may endanger aquatic life and the environment.
Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA found multiple violations of National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants at the company's Woodward, Alabama coke plant, including violations of the standards that control benzene emissions from coke by-product recovery plants. In particular, the plant failed to operate a gas blanketing system, which is used to control benzene emissions from its storage tanks, between October 1996 and May 1997. The plant also failed to submit semi-annual reports from August 1994 to September 1997 for its benzene emissions control system.
In addition, the Woodward plant violated the standards for fugitive emission sources, which require a facility to identify, tag and monitor monthly potential fugitive emissions from equipment leaks. The plant also violated the regulation applicable to coke oven batteries. This regulation requires a facility to submit semiannual compliance reports. Koppers submitted a semiannual report in August of 1995, but failed to submit additional reports before July 1997. The United States also alleged that in March 1997, Koppers violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulation that requires a facility to store used oil in containers and tanks that are in good condition with no severe rusting, apparent structural defects or deterioration. In March 1997, Koppers violated the regulation by collecting used oil in an unmarked, severely crushed tank.
As a result of the consent decree entered into by Koppers and the United States, lodged in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama, Koppers will implement an EPA-approved EMS that helps the company identify and monitor its compliance with federal and state environmental laws. During the first three years after entry, Koppers will hire qualified third parties to audit each facility's performance under the EMS and will provide periodic reports on these audits to EPA. After these EMS audits are underway, Koppers will use independent auditors to evaluate the company's compliance with environmental laws. Should the compliance audits identify additional violations, Koppers will be required to install the necessary treatment upgrades, and operational and maintenance improvements to meet all environmental permit requirements and water quality standards.
Compliance audits also will address storm water, and may require Koppers to implement storm water pollution prevention plans. These efforts will reduce the instances of unreported and contaminated storm water discharges to the environment.
The consent decree requires Koppers to correct all violations identified in an audit report within 60 days. EPA may assess civil penalties for violations identified in an audit report using its audit policy.
In August 2002, Koppers was ordered to pay a fine of $2.1 million after pleading guilty to two felony violations of the CWA and one felony violation of the CAA. The convictions resulted from releases of hazardous air and water pollutants, which exceeded permitted limits at the company's Woodward plant. In addition, Koppers was ordered to pay restitution of $900,000 to the Black Warrior-Cahaba Rivers Land Trust and was placed on probation for three years.
U.S. CHEMICAL MAKERS ADOPT PRODUCT-RELATED PERFORMANCE MEASURESAmerican Chemistry Council (ACC) members adopted two new, mandatory measures that will improve chemical company performance and make greater information available to the public on the industry's product safety efforts.
As part of ongoing enhancements to Responsible Care, ACC's performance initiative, the new measures require Council members: 1) to have a documented process for describing and managing product-related risk, as well as a public summary of the process; and 2) to have a method for communicating the results of the process to the public.
"The new measures flow directly from the chemical industry's long-standing commitment to product stewardship under Responsible Care," said Greg Lebedev, ACC president and CEO, at ACC's Board of Directors meeting. "We're strengthening our performance and making more information available so the public can better understand our ongoing efforts to manage chemical products safely."
The new product-related measures are key elements of the industry's Global Chemicals Management Policy (GCMP), which was adopted by ACC in 2001, in part to increase publicly available information about efforts by chemical companies to characterize and manage risks. The GCMP measures provide the public an accessible and transparent way to track individual company and industry performance.
"All of the new Responsible Care performance measures underscore our commitment as an industry both to continuously improve our performance and to make it easy for our plant communities, the public and others to track our performance," said Michael Campbell, chairman, president and CEO of Arch Chemicals, Inc. and chairman of the ACC board committee on Responsible Care.
The new measures join other enhancements to Responsible Care, including a new Security Code, a Responsible Care Management System and independent third party certification.
EPA ANNOUNCES NEW NATIONAL INITIATIVE TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS AND IMPROVE AIR QUALITYEPA Administrator Christie Whitman, along with partners from leading multi-national corporations, announced a new voluntary effort called SmartWay Transport. SmartWay Transport Charter Partners have agreed to work with EPA to develop performance measures or goals to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save fuel, and protect public health.
SmartWay Transport aims to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from ground freight carriers such as trucks and locomotives. By 2012 this initiative aims to reduce as much as 18 million metric tons of carbon equivalent, and up to 200,000 tons of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) annually. These reductions will create fuel savings of up to 150 million barrels of oil annually.
"Our SmartWay truck and rail partners are working with EPA to develop ways to cut emissions and conserve fuel." said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "Their environmental stewardship will improve air quality and increase efficiency while transporting America's goods and keeping our economy vital."
Eventually participating corporations will earn SmartWay labels that will distinguish them as having made significant commitments to reducing emissions. This voluntary partnership was developed and modeled after EPA's highly successful Energy Star Program. Where Energy Star focuses on reducing pollution from consumer products and labeling energy efficient buildings, SmartWay Transport will help to reduce pollution from the vehicles that move these products to their destination.
EPA AND U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE SIGN AGREEMENT TO SHARE INFORMATION ON HAZARDOUS WASTE, CHEMICAL, PESTICIDE IMPORTSEPA and the U.S. Customs Service signed a broad memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which the two agencies agree to share information related to the import of products regulated by a number of environmental laws. The MOU will further EPA's ability to monitor and enforce compliance with federal environmental laws and regulations pertaining to chemical substances, pesticides, hazardous waste, and ozone-depleting chemicals, and will enhance the nation's homeland security efforts by increasing intelligence sharing between the two agencies.
Operating under the MOU, Customs will provide EPA access in the future to its confidential Automated Commercial System (ACS), which includes information relating to the names and addresses of importers, consignees, shippers, manufacturers, quantity and value of the imported merchandise and wastes, as well as corresponding Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) codes, which will enable EPA to identify classification data for all merchandise imported into the United States. Customs also will provide EPA with specific information related to, among others, chemical substances, pesticides, hazardous waste, and ozone depleting chemicals on a routine basis, as well as on an as-needed and emergency basis, and allow EPA to share information with federal, state, foreign and local partners as permitted by law, under strict confidentiality requirements.
EPA's MOU with the Customs Service is its third such agreement. On Feb. 4, 1987, Customs and EPA entered into an MOU that describes each agency's responsibilities related to the enforcement of hazardous waste export requirements. A subsequent MOU was signed on March 5, 1996, to further enhance the cooperative relationship between the agencies.
EPA RELEASES INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO CLEANER WATEREPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced this week a new Water Quality Trading Policy to cut industrial, municipal and agricultural discharges into the nation's waterways. The trading policy seeks to support and encourage states and tribes in developing and putting into place water quality trading programs that implement the requirements of the Clean Water and federal regulations in more flexible ways and reduce the cost of improving and maintaining the quality of the nation's waters.
"The Water Quality Trading Policy I am announcing today recognizes that within a watershed, the most effective and economical way to reduce pollution is to provide incentives to encourage action by those who can achieve reductions easily and cost-effectively," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "Our new Water Quality Trading Policy will result in cleaner water, at less cost, and in less time. It provides the flexibility needed to meet local challenges while demanding accountability to ensure that water quality does improve."
Whitman noted that the agency is providing more than $800,000 in fiscal year 2002 funding support for technical and other support for 11 trading projects around the country. A list of the 11 pilots is attached.
Water quality trading uses economic incentives to improve water quality. It allows one source to meet its regulatory obligations by using pollutant reductions created by another source that has lower pollution control costs. The standards remain the same, but efficiency is increased and costs are decreased. Under the new policy, industrial and municipal facilities would first meet technology control requirements and then could use pollution reduction credits to make further progress towards water quality goals.
In order for a water quality trade to take place, a pollution reduction "credit" must first be created. EPA's water quality trading policy states that sources should reduce pollution loads beyond the level required by the most stringent water quality based requirements in order to create a pollution reduction "credit" that can be traded. For example, a landowner or a farmer could create credits by changing cropping practices and planting shrubs and trees next to a stream. A municipal wastewater treatment plant then could use these credits to meet water quality limits in its permit.
The policy could save the public hundreds of millions of dollars by advancing more effective, efficient partnerships to clean up and protect watersheds. The policy encourages incentives to maintain high water quality where it exists as well as restoring impaired waters. In addition, the policy describes provisions of credible trading programs that are consistent with the Clean Water Act and federal regulations.
An independent study of three watersheds in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin looked at the cost of controlling phosphorous loadings.(World Resources Institute 2000) This study found that the cost of reducing phosphorous from controlling point sources - traditional pipe-in-the water dischargers regulated by the Clean Water Act - to be considerably higher than those based on trading between point and non-point sources which are not regulated by the Clean Water Act.
For more information log on to EPA's Trading website at http://www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/trading.htm
ASHLAND SENTENCED FOR REFINERY FIRE; WILL PAY APPROXIMATELY $13.1 MILLION IN FINES, RESTITUTION AND UPGRADESAshland Inc., of Covington, Ky., sentenced on Dec. 23 to pay $9.1 million in fines and restitution, was convicted on negligent endangerment charges under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and for submitting a false certification to environmental regulators. The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis also ordered Ashland to pay an estimated $4 million for upgrades to sewers, junction boxes and drains at its St. Paul Park Refinery.
In its previous plea agreement, the defendant agreed to a deferred prosecution for a violation of the New Source Performance Standards provisions of the CAA. The violations led to an explosion and fire on May 1997 at the St. Paul Park Refinery where one man was severely injured and five others were hurt. The resultant accident was due to Ashland's failure to properly seal manhole sewer covers used to dispose of flammable hydrocarbons. Some hydrocarbons leaked, became airborne and reached an ignition source. The initial fire was put out, but a second leak of hydrocarbons from a manhole cover ignited and injured members of an emergency response team.
The false certification violation occurred after the fire when Ashland told the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in July 1997 that its sewer system was in compliance with the CAA and Ashland failed to reveal that a manhole cover had been unsealed and a fire had resulted.
As part of the sentence, Ashland will pay $3.5 million to the severely injured man and pay medical coverage for him and his family for the rest of their lives. The other five injured workers will receive $10,000 each. In addition, Ashland will pay a $1.5 million criminal fine, pay $50,000 in restitution to each of several local fire departments and take out full-page notices in two major Twin Cities newspapers concerning this incident and its resolution. Ashland will also pay $3.9 million to the National Park Foundation for environmental projects in the Minneapolis area.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minneapolis and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.