More than 260 million Americans who receive water from a
community water supply should be receiving their annual drinking
water quality report by July 1. The annual reports are called
Consumer Confidence Reports and are now required every year by
July 1 under the l996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The reports include a brief description of the local drinking
water source(s) and any contaminants in the tap water. The
reports may arrive with the water bill or as a separate mailing.
Many reports are available on the Internet. EPA also has links to
hundreds of them at http://www.epa.gov/safewater.
TWO NEW YORK MEN SENTENCED FOR WATER AND HAZARDOUS WASTE CRIMES
On June 11, Francis Kindel of Orchard Park, N.Y. was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment and Robert Zilliox of Buffalo N. Y. to 29 months for violating the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Both men worked for Tri-Electronics of Cheektowaga, N.Y. and were each convicted of dumping hazardous waste onto the ground and into sewers and conspiring to commit these acts while employed at Tri-Electronics. In addition, Kindel was convicted of illegally storing hazardous waste.
Unlawfully dumping hazardous waste and illegally storing hazardous wastes can create a substantial risk of human exposure. In addition, illegally discharging acids into sewer systems can present a health risk to sewage treatment plant workers, can damage sewage treatment equipment and can prevent the proper treatment of sewage.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation
Division, New York State's Attorney General and Department of
Environmental Conservation, with assistance from the U.S. Customs
Service and the Internal Revenue Service. The case was prosecuted
by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Buffalo.
AIR LIQUIDE AGREES TO SETTLEMENT WITH U.S. RESOLVING ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS IN 18 STATES
The Justice Department and EPA announced a ground-breaking Clean Air Act settlement with Air Liquide America Corporation to replace refrigerant chemicals that destroy the earth's stratospheric ozone layer with environmentally friendly alternatives.
The United States charged Air Liquide with illegally releasing ozone-depleting gases from industrial process refrigeration systems at 22 facilities located in 18 states. The agreement, filed in U.S. District Court in Texas, requires Air Liquide to convert all its industrial refrigeration systems now using regulated ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to systems using alternative, environmentally friendly refrigerants. The company also will fund an "environmental justice" supplemental project that will benefit a lower income, predominately minority community in Louisiana, and pay a $4.5 million civil penalty.
"Air Liquide's actions are an excellent example of cooperation between a company and the government to find a solution that averts further damage to the ozone-layer and involves tangible measures that preserve an undisturbed area of land from future development," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.
The ozone layer is located in the upper atmosphere 30 miles above the earth's surface. This layer of gas screens individuals from the sun's powerful and harmful ultraviolet radiation, which can lead to sunburn, cataracts and skin cancer. Increased radiation also can damage important food crops and marine ecosystems.
Air Liquide America Corporation is a subsidiary of L'Air Liquide, SA, Paris France, the world's largest manufacturer of industrial and medical gases, such as super-cooled liquid oxygen, nitrogen, and other gases. The company's cryogenic manufacturing facilities use large industrial refrigeration systems containing ozone-depleting substances regulated under the Clean Air Act.
Under the settlement Air Liquide will replace or completely retrofit 46 industrial refrigeration systems to coolant methods that are environmentally benign, and will retire seven more systems which use ozone-depleting refrigerants. The company also will dedicate an undeveloped parcel of land having ecological value as open or "green" space in the industrialized area of Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. This land will not be used for industrial purposes in the future and is considered an "environmental justice" supplemental project aimed at benefiting the primarily lower income, predominately minority community. The project is valued at $422,000. Additionally, the company will donate a two-acre parcel of land it owns in Westlake, Louisiana to the Carlyss Fire Department for a new two-bay fire and emergency response station. This particular project is valued at about $78,000.
Air Liquide could have continued to use regulated, ozone-depleting refrigerants in these systems for an indefinite period of time, provided the company complied with CAA requirements. Instead, the company chose to voluntarily revamp its refrigeration processes. "We commend Air Liquide for its good faith in seeking to offset the past excessive leaks of ozone-depleting refrigerants by making these efforts to reduce the use of ozone-depleting substances all together," said John Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.
Scientists worldwide have concluded that CFCs damage the stratospheric ozone layer, which already is significantly depleted over Antarctica, and, to a lesser extent, over North America, Europe and other populated areas. When allowed to escape into the air, the CFC molecule breaks apart releasing chlorine, which then attacks the earth's protective ozone layer. A single chlorine atom can destroy more than 100,000 ozone molecules.
The U.S. and more than 100 countries have agreed to end production of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. The CAA contains many measures to protect the ozone layer, including a ban on venting into the air CFC refrigerant from air conditioners and small appliances. Additionally, the U.S. has committed to reducing emissions of ozone-depleting substances to their "lowest achievable level" at manufacturing and industrial facilities.
The initial DOJ/EPA complaint against Air Liquide alleged violations of the CAA, including:
- releasing regulated ozone-depleting substances into the air;
- exceeding the annual leak rate of 35 percent for large,
industrial, cooling systems using CFC refrigerants;
- adding refrigerant containing CFCs to its refrigeration systems
without testing for, locating, and repairing leaks;
- failing to capture the CFC refrigerant from the appliances
using certified CFC recovery/recycling equipment;
- failing to keep proper records and provide them to EPA; and
- failing to use an EPA certified technician to maintain, service or repair the industrial process refrigeration equipment.
Affected Air Liquide facilities are located in Fairfield, Alaska.; Anchorage, Alaska.; Tucson, Ariz.; Etiwanda, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Orlando, Fla; Merritt Island, Fla; Savannah, Ga.; Kapolei, Hawaii; Plaquemine, La.; Westlake, La.; Madison, Miss.; East Helena, Mont.; Kinston, N.C.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; McMinnville, Ore.; Spartanburg, S.C.; Cleburne, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Longview, Texas; Vineyard, Utah; and Kent, Wash.
The civil settlement is subject to a 30-day comment period and
final court approval. Questions about ozone depletion or EPA
rules concerning CFCs may be directed to the Agency's
Stratospheric Ozone Hotline at 800-296-1996.
WHITMAN SIGNS PROPOSAL TO IMPROVE VISIBILITY IN NATIONAL PARKS
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman signed a national park visibility protection proposal, widely known as the "BART" rule, containing no significant changes to its original proposal. The proposed rule provides guidelines for states and tribal air quality agencies to determine air pollution controls for a number of older, large power plants and other industrial facilities.
The BART (Best Available Retrofit Technology) rule was delayed until EPA completed an energy impact analysis required in a May 18 Executive Order directing all federal agencies to prepare an energy impact statement on any major regulatory action. EPA has determined that this proposal is not likely to have an adverse effect on supply, distribution or use of energy. Plans for signing the proposal were announced in an EPA press release May 29.
The proposal aims to clear the skies in the nation's most treasured national parks and wilderness areas, such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, by helping states control haze-causing emissions from older power plants and industrial facilities. Specifically, BART amends EPA's 1999 regional haze rule to guide states and tribal air quality agencies in deciding which facilities must install air pollution controls and the types of controls to be installed.
The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments required EPA to establish a rule to improve visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas. The Amendments also called on states to require these older plants to install best air pollution controls available.
The proposed amendments will appear soon in the Federal Register
(with a 60-day public comment period), and can be accessed
immediately at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/ramain.html.
EPA ISSUES BACKGROUND PAPER ON ADMINISTRATION REVIEW OF NEW SOURCE AIR POLICY
EPA released for public comment a background paper on a 90-day review of its program for controlling new industrial and utility sources of air pollution. The paper provides information on the electricity generating and petroleum refining industries. The paper has no conclusions or recommendations.
The program, called New Source Review (NSR), requires that an air pollution source install the best pollution control equipment available when it builds a new facility or when it makes a major modification that increases emissions from an existing facility. The NSR was designed to ensure that new and modified sources do not impede progress toward cleaner air.
Since 1977, when it was first incorporated into the Clean Air Act, the NSR program has been an important part of EPA's efforts to protect air quality. EPA also recognizes that the NSR process is complex and burdensome both for affected companies and for state and local agencies responsible for implementing the program. For several years, EPA has been exploring options designed to simplify the program, reduce the length of the review process and remove any barriers it may pose to innovation and improved energy efficiency.
In its May 2001 report, the energy task force headed by Vice President Cheney recommended that EPA, in consultation with other federal agencies, review NSR regulations to determine the impact of those regulations on investment in new utility and refinery generation capacity, energy efficiency and environmental protection.
The paper contains background information on the NSR program and asks for comments on whether the program should be changed to encourage more efficient use of our nation's energy resources while maintaining air quality. The final report, due to the President on August 17, is expected to include recommendations on how to improve the NSR process.
EPA's 90-day NSR review is separate and apart from the one being conducted by the U.S. Justice Department. That review is considering whether existing NSR enforcement actions are consistent with the Clean Air Act regulations.
The Agency also will take several steps to involve the public and
stakeholders in its deliberations. The background paper and
instructions for submitting comments are available at:
http://www.epa.gov/air/nsr-review. A special public docket will
be created to give the public access to all NSR review material.
Beginning June 27, separate meetings will be held with outside
stakeholders, including affected industries, environmental
groups, and state and local governments. Next month the Agency
will hold public meetings to collect information and public
comments in Cincinnati, Ohio on July 10; in Sacramento, Calif.,
on July 12; in Boston, Mass., on July 17; and in Baton Rouge,
La., on July 20.
WHITMAN APPOINTS THREE EPA REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman appointed administrators of three Agency regions: Robert W. Varney, for Region 1, the New England region; Donald Welsh, for Region 3, the mid-Atlantic region; and Thomas Skinner, for Region 5, the Midwest region.
Varney will be responsible for managing Agency programs in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. He has been Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services since July 1989. In the previous 10 years, Varney held other state and local director and planning positions in New Hampshire. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of New Hampshire and a master's degree in urban planning from Michigan State University.
Welsh returns to the Agency's Region 3 office where he worked as Chief of Government Affairs from 1991 to 1995 and Executive Assistant to the Regional Administrator from 1985 to 1991. He will manage Agency programs in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Welsh has been Deputy Secretary for State/Federal Relations of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection since August 1997 and served as special assistant to the Secretary for two years prior to that. In both jobs he was involved in direct relationships with the federal EPA. Welsh is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania.
Skinner will manage Agency programs in Illinois, Indiana,
Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Since January 1999, he
has directed the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and
served in the cabinet of Governor George Ryan. Prior to that,
Skinner was a partner with the Winston and Strawn law firm in
Chicago for eight years and a special assistant to Illinois
Governor James Thompson for economic affairs and transportation
for two years. He is an alumnus of Lawrence University and the
Northwestern University School of Law.
HM-215D MOVES HMR CLOSER TO INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS
The HM-215D Final Rule doesn't just incorporate the latest international regulations by reference, it actually makes many changes to the US DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), bringing domestic rules in closer alignment with the latest IMDG Code, ICAO Technical Instructions, and UN Recommendations.
The effective date of this final rule is October 1, 2001, but voluntary compliance is allowed as of June 21st - except for the use of the 2001-2002 ICAO Technical Instructions and IAEA TS-R-1 (ST-1) regulations for radioactive materials which are authorized for use July 1st. What this means is that many of the new changes that come into effect on July 1, 2001, with the new ICAO Technical Instructions will actually have already been acceptable for all modes of transportation in the US for nine days. These changes include:
- No difference between primary and subsidiary hazard labels and
placards (5-year transition period for this in 49 CFR)
- Displaying one explosive placard when several compatibility
groups are present
- "Stabilized" replaces "inhibited" in many PSNs
- Many domestic entries with NA numbers removed from the
Hazardous Materials Table since corresponding UN entries are
- Vessel hazmat shipping papers must show flashpoint if it is
below 60.5¦ C (141¦ F) ùIMDGC had this for many years
- Special Provisions revised greatly due to new UN portable tank
and IBC provisions
- New "sample" PSN rule is adopted (Classes 1, 6.2, and 7 ARE
included, despite their exclusion in the int'l regs)
- IBC standards updated
- UN portable tanks standards added. Grandfather provisions made
for continued use of DOT 51, DOT 57, DOT 60, IM 101, and IM 102
portable tanks. DOT 52 and DOT 53 portable tanks eliminated
- Rules for cigarette lighters and alcohol carried by aircraft
passengers and crew updated and clarified
- Segregation table for aircraft becomes less restrictive
- Lithium battery restrictions and exceptions further defined and clarified
There are hundreds more little changes. The changes become
effective October 1, 2001. Unless otherwise stated, there is a
one year transition period for compliance until October 1, 2002.
EPA SEEKS LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS FOR FLEXIBILITY IN MEETING SMOG STANDARDS
EPA announced new guidelines encouraging state, local and tribal governments to make voluntary, early reductions of air emissions that form ground-level ozone (smog). The guidelines, called Ozone Flex, will help communities identify cost-effective, flexible ways to meet EPA's smog standards.
Ozone is an odorless, colorless gas composed of three atoms of oxygen. Ozone occurs both in the Earth's upper atmosphere, where it shields us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays and at ground level where it is a harmful air pollutant. Ground-level ozone is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, and other industrial sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight.
High smog levels have been linked to increases in the severity of asthma attacks and other respiratory health problems, especially for children and the elderly. By working with mayors, governors and tribal leaders, EPA is encouraging localities to make decisions that will achieve cleaner air sooner.
Participation in the program is voluntary, and only areas currently meeting the 1-hour standard are eligible to take part. There are several incentives for governments to participate. Communities are afforded the flexibility to institute their own approach in maintaining clean air and providing public health protection. EPA expects that participants will receive positive public reaction for voluntarily addressing air pollution problems before federal requirements kick in. Finally, for a period of time, (generally not to exceed five years), communities can avoid an EPA "nonattainment designation" for violating the 1-hour standard.
State, tribal and local governments and EPA will develop and sign a memorandum of agreement describing the local control measures to be voluntarily implemented in advance of possible air quality violations. In the agreement, the governments commit to preparing emission inventories, and conducting air quality modeling and monitoring, if necessary, to support their selection of emission controls.
In 1997 EPA revised the 1-hour ozone standard to an 8-hour standard that provides public health protection for longer exposure periods. The Agency is moving forward to develop a policy to determine how best to transition from the 1-hour standard to the 8-hour standard. Any efforts taken by local areas to cut air emissions to meet the 1-hour ozone standard will also help reduce exposure to the 8-hour ozone levels and provide health benefits in advance of EPA's designating areas as attainment or nonattainment for that 8-hour standard.
The OzoneFlex guidelines will assist local areas in their efforts to continue to attain the 1-hour standard. Many local metropolitan areas have ozone air quality below, but close to, the 1-hour ozone standard. EPA uses monitored air quality data and recommendations from state, tribal and local air pollution control agencies to determine if geographic areas of the country are in attainment (meet health-based air quality standard) or in non-attainment (exceed the air quality standard).
The guidelines are available at: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/ under "What's New."