Washington State Wrecking Yard Owner Charged with Illegal Disposal

January 03, 2005

The owner of a Kent, WA wrecking yard was recently arrested on charges that he improperly disposed of waste petroleum products.

In addition, Wei Guo Huang was charged with improperly disposing of crushed automobile batteries, failure to properly store hazardous waste, failure to notify state officials about hazardous waste spills, and operation of an automobile wrecking yard without a license.

Huang operated Japanese Auto Wrecking on rented land in Kent, WA, from early 1999 until he was evicted from the property in early 2003. The charges allege that he disposed of waste gasoline by dumping it in a pit or onto the ground, and that he left crushed and leaking automotive batteries lying around his property.

The alleged disposal sites were within 150 feet of the banks of the Green River, and created a potential river pollution hazard. Gasoline contains benzene which is a known carcinogen, and battery acids can cause burns. Both chemicals can harm fish and aquatic life if the chemicals are washed by rains into surface waters. Cleanup costs are estimated at $5 million.

New Ohio EPA Director Appointed

Joseph Koncelik has been selected by Ohio Governor Bob Taft as director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Koncelik, whose appointment must be confirmed by the Senate, replaces Christopher Jones, who resigned.

Koncelik has been working as assistant director of the Ohio EPA and chief legal counsel. Before joining the agency, he worked at the environmental enforcement section of the Ohio Attorney General's office.

If confirmed by the Ohio Senate, Koncelik would start the job Jan. 7.

14th International Emission Inventory Conference

The Emission Inventory Group and Emission Inventory Improvement Program are cosponsoring the fourteenth annual emission inventory conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 11 - 14, 2005. This year, the conference will focus on changes needed in the inventory world to foster the development of timely emissions data. See Transforming Emissions Inventories for details.

Development Groups Agree to Pay $137,500 for Wetlands and Storm Water Violations

Three parties have agreed to pay $137,500 to settle claims that they violated the federal Clean Water Act by filling in nine acres of Massachusetts wetlands, as well as failing to obtain proper permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA.

The developers, Taunton Development Corporation and Condyne LLC, and G. Lopes Construction, Inc., the contractor that prepared the 244-acre site in Taunton, MA, for construction, have agreed to jointly pay the penalty ordered by the agency.

The parties had previously restored approximately 6.5 of the nine acres that had been filled, in response to an order issued by the EPA. The violations occurred in late 2002 and early 2003 while land was being cleared and the site prepared for a 1 million-square-foot warehouse.

The agency charged the parties with discharging fill material to nearby waterways without a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wetlands permit, and with discharging pollutants without a National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permit.

A March 2003 inspection by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA revealed that the developersÆ contractors had filled in about nine acres of wetlands on the site without obtaining the required Army Corps permit. Additionally, the developers had failed to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to be covered by EPAÆs Construction General Permit, which authorizes storm water discharges from large and small construction activities.

In October 2003, the EPA ordered the Taunton Development Corporation to come into compliance with federal Clean Water Act regulations. Based on last yearÆs order, the Taunton Development Corporation restored 6.5 of the nine acres that had been filled. Consistent with agencyÆs order, the developers obtained a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep 2.5 acres of wetlands fill in place for roadways to access upland areas at the site. As well, the parties prepared a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan and obtained coverage under EPAÆs Construction General Permit.

In addition to providing valuable wildlife habitat, wetlands help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities. They filter clean water by trapping sediments and removing pollutants, and provide buffers against floods as they store enormous amounts of flood water. Wetlands also store and slowly release water over time, helping to maintain water flow in streams, especially during dry periods.

As a result of the violations described above, wildlife habitat areas used for cover, nesting, and feeding were destroyed. Nearby residents also experienced flooding due to the large scale cutting of forest for site development.

EPA Proposes Cleanup Plan for Butte Soil and Water

The EPA has released a proposed plan for a comprehensive cleanup of soil, surface water and groundwater in Butte, MT. The plan is EPA's proposed final remedy for the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit site, bringing many years of study of mining-related contamination in the area to a conclusion.

The proposal calls for removal of contaminated sediment in Silver Bow Creek, storm water management, groundwater collection and treatment, as well as covers, partial removal, and limited treatment for soil and mine waste and continuation of a lead abatement program.

The plan was developed in consultation with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and reflects input from Butte Silver Bow County and the citizens of Butte. There will be a 60-day public comment period on the plan, ending February 18.

Many other cleanup actions in Butte have already been completed or are currently underway. These actions include many residential soil removals, removal or capping of waste piles around the city, the Berkeley Pit water collection and treatment system, removal of the Colorado Tailings, much of the old Butte Reduction Works, and storm water controls. Land use and redevelopment have been considered and encouraged in the course of all cleanups. The EPA, working with stakeholders, has helped find creative, productive and economically beneficial solutions at several cleanup sites within Butte.

EPA Funds Water Security Efforts

Through EPA grant funding and the collaborative efforts of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Interim Voluntary Water Infrastructure Security Enhancement Guidance Documents were recently released.

The guidance documents are intended to assist drinking water and wastewater utilities in reducing the vulnerabilities of their systems to man-made threats through the design, construction, operation and maintenance of both new and existing systems of all sizes. These interim documents will be the basis for the development of voluntary consensus standards and published in late 2006. Training materials for each of the guidance documents are currently being developed and will be available in Spring 2005. Additional information and links to the documents can be found under the WhatÆs New section of the Water Security

Television Special About Watersheds

A half hour television special about watersheds, co-produced by the Environmental Protection Agency and The Weather Channel, will air again on The Weather Channel on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005, at 7:30 pm EST. "After the Storm" premiered on The Weather Channel on Feb. 4, 2004.

Additional showings are scheduled for:

    Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 7:30 pm EST
    Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005 at 12:30 pm EST
    Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 7:30 pm EST
    Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005 at 1:30 pm EST
    Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005 at 4:30 pm EST
    Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005 at 12:30 pm EST
    Sunday, Jan. 23, at 5:30 pm EST

Visit the EPA Web site at http://www.epa.gov/weatherchannel/ for more information about what you can do, including a free brochure about storm water pollution.

VHS copies of the "After the Storm" program are now available. Order a free copy by contacting the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) at 513-489-8190 or 800-490-9198 or send an email to ncepimal@one.net. Please request "After the Storm" (VHS) and refer to document number, EPA 840-V-04-001.

Free Air Toxics Control Training

EPAÆs Control Technology Series is a self instructional training tool. The training tool is designed to provide a basic overview to those unfamiliar with a variety of air pollution control technologies. More information and download instructions are available on EPAÆs web site.

NPDES Improvements Underway

EPA is implementing a nationwide assessment to improve the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. The assessment, termed Permitting for Environmental Results (PER), is the result of a 16-month effort by the states and the EPA to evaluate the management of NPDES programs. The effort has resulted in the release of 33 individual state NPDES profiles, with the remaining state profiles to be released in early 2005.

According to the EPA, the states have been working with the agency through a detailed process to carefully assess each of their NPDES programs to gauge effectiveness, identify strengths and target areas for improvement. The profiles are intended as a guide for state and EPA managers as they work to strengthen and ensure the long-term success of each NPDES program. The effort began in August 2003, and includes three primary components to enhance the NPDES program:

  • Integrity - Ensuring that NPDES programs have the information and tools they need to issue effective permits.
  • Program Efficiency - Providing tools to the states and sharing information among NPDES programs to streamline the permitting process to effectively apply resources where needed in each watershed.
  • Environmental Results - Identifying environmentally significant permits, prioritizing and reissuing them to improve water quality.

The EPA noted that it would continue to work with each program to address the needed improvements identified in the profiles and then track their progress. The agency plans to formalize a management system for the NPDES program to ensure consistent quality and effectiveness across all NPDES programs.

Under the Clean Water Act, the NPDES program regulates discharges to waters of the United States from point sources such as municipal sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities. States may seek authorization to operate the NPDES program; today, 45 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have this authorization. The EPA is the permitting authority in unauthorized states, territories and Indian country. Information on the Permitting for Environmental Results strategy is available online.

Catawba Indian Nation, EPA Sign Environmental Agreement

The Catawba Indian Nation and the EPA have signed an agreement to help the tribe develop the capacity to overcome environmental problems, protect surface waters for traditional practices such as fishing, improve drinking water services, monitor both indoor and outdoor air quality, and promote economic and social development in an environmental friendly manner.

The agreement describes the working relationship between the tribe and the agency in language specific enough for planning purposes, but general enough to allow either party flexibility in meeting important goals.

For example, the tribe is planning to test homes for the presence of radon, a colorless, odorless naturally-occurring gas that can enter homes through the foundation. Long-term exposure to high levels of radon may cause serious health effects, including lung cancer. Radon is responsible for hundreds of cancer-related deaths annually in the United States. The agreement allows the tribe discretion as to when and how this testing will be done.

The agreement is only the second signed between the federal government and any tribal government in the eastern United States. The Catawba Indian Nation consists of almost 2,800 members, many of whom live on 700 acres of tribal land located near Rock Hill, SC. The tribe received federal recognition in 1993 and has been operating as a sovereign governmental entity since that time.

The tribeÆs current environmental functions include monitoring the quality of drinking water and the air environment, managing the indoor air environment, and collecting and disposing of solid waste. Employees of the tribeÆs Department of Planning and Development are also active in local, state and national environmental councils and groups, studying new ways of protecting the environment and improving public health.