May 18, 2001

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman praised the bipartisan sponsors of a new bill, the Small Business Liability Protection Act, which was introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"We have been encouraging Congress to enact legislation to assist EPA in providing relief to small businesses who were unfairly dragged into Superfund sites. This measure will promote cleanup and reduce needless lawsuits by drawing a bright line between large contributors of toxic waste and small businesses that disposed of small amounts of waste or ordinary trash," explained Whitman.

Because there is joint and several liability under the Superfund law, large polluters have tried to share the pain by extending their liability to small businesses. Multiplying lawsuits have diverted resources from cleanup. "The less litigation we have, the more likely we finish the job of cleaning up Superfund sites," said Whitman. "This legislation will reduce the time spent in court and increase the time spent cleaning the environment."

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio); Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey); John Duncan (R-Tenn.); and Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon). It has widespread bipartisan support on both the Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.


After several years of litigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of Justice have reached a $1.2 million settlement agreement with the V-1 Oil Company of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The proposed settlement satisfies U.S. claims stemming from the Company's failure to comply with a federal order requiring it to cleanup gasoline that leaked from tanks at its Preston, Idaho, filling station.

The proposed settlement was lodged yesterday in federal district court. Once it is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 30 days to comment on the settlement prior to entry by the court. Federal enforcement action against V-1 followed a 1996 gasoline leak that led to local ground water contamination, dangerous fumes in home basements and potentially explosive levels in the Preston sewer line.

Working closely with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) and the City of Preston, EPA contacted V-1, identifying their tanks as a probable source of the leaking gasoline. The Company denied responsibility and refused to grant federal, state and local investigators access to their property. The Company later refused to comply with the EPA cleanup order under the 1990 Oil Pollution Act (OPA), so EPA conducted a two-phase removal at the site. During the removal, EPA removed hundreds of gallons of gasoline from the groundwater and approximately 2,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil.

According to Chuck Findley, Acting Regional Administrator in Seattle, the Company's refusal to cooperate increased the cleanup cost dramatically.

"By failing to cooperate on the cleanup, V-1 forced EPA to obtain a warrant, temporary restraining order, and preliminary injunction in order to gain access for investigation and cleanup," said Findley. "As a result, you're looking at cleanup that took longer and cost more to complete. The environment and the community suffered more than necessary and that's really a shame."

After these early difficulties, management changed and the Company "stepped up to the plate" to resolve its responsibilities in the case.

The $1.2 million settlement with V-1 includes a $478,000 penalty for V-1's refusal to comply with EPA's cleanup order and $722,000 to reimburse the government for the cost of EPA's cleanup. This is the first time EPA has assessed a penalty for the violation of an oil spill cleanup order.

The V-1 company owns 35 gasoline filling stations across ID, WY, MT, UT, and CO. By signing the agreement, the Company neither admits nor denies liability in connection with the gasoline contamination.


EPA announced that Aerospace Testing Laboratories of Windsor, Conn. has agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty for violating federal air toxics regulations and failing to comply with EPA compliance and reporting requirements. This agreement settles an enforcement case brought by EPA against Aerospace last September.

Aerospace tests aircraft parts for foreign and domestic companies. From December 1997 to June 2000, the company was not complying with federal air toxics regulations for degreasing machines. Aerospace's degreaser emitted trichloroethylene, or TCE, at twice its legal emission rate. Aerospace illegally emitted an estimated one and a half tons (3300 lbs) or 276 gallons of TCE per year.

TCE is a hazardous air pollutant and a probable carcinogen. Long-term exposure can cause lung, nerve, kidney and liver damage. With EPA's enforcement action looming, the company stopped using the degreaser and eliminated its TCE emissions in June 2000.

In July 1999, EPA issued Aerospace an administrative order requiring the company to comply with the degreaser regulations. Aerospace violated this order and failed to timely provide answers to an EPA demand for compliance information.

"EPA's 1999 order gave the company ample time to come into compliance with regulations, correct its violations, and stop the excess TCE pollution, but Aerospace still failed to comply," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "The penalty in this case should serve as a warning to other companies with degreasing operations to take their compliance obligations and EPA's enforcement seriously."

The complaint against Aerospace Testing is part of a larger effort by EPA to focus on the metal finishing and degreasing industry. EPA's assistance program helps to educate companies that use halogenated solvent degreasing machines about the relevant environmental regulations and the various compliance options. EPA efforts to control pollution by the metal industry stem in part from regulations enacted in 1995 to regulate emissions of chromium, trichloroethylene and other toxic chemicals.

Much of the work with the metal industry is being done through EPA's Metal Finishing Strategic Goals Program, a 3-year-old program that is encouraging metal finishers to meet aggressive pollution reduction goals by the year 2002. The national program was launched in partnership with industry groups, environmental groups and state and local regulators.

Companies that sign up for the program receive compliance and pollution prevention assistance. And, as companies work toward meeting the goals, they'll be rewarded with more flexible regulatory oversight from EPA and state environmental regulators.

More information on federal regulations and how to prevent pollution is available by calling EPA's Office of Assistance and Pollution Prevention, or visit the Web site: http://www.epa.gov/region1/steward/neeat/metals1.html.


As part of a larger initiative to control hazardous pollutants released by the metal finishing industry, the EPA has ordered a Belmont electroplating company to come into compliance with monitoring, reporting and record-keeping requirements of the Clean Air Act.

According to an order issued by EPA's New England Office, the Cambridge Plating Co. of Belmont has been violating regulations that govern the use of degreasing machines and chromium electroplating. Cambridge Plating conducts electroplating and metal finishing. It operates a degreasing machine that uses trichloroethylene (TCE) to clean parts. The facility also performs hard chromium electroplating in a chromium electroplating tank that emits chromium and is subject to federal chromium standards.

TCE and chromium are both designated "hazardous air pollutants" under the Clean Air Act. Today's action stems from inspections of the Hittinger Street plant conducted in September 2000 and February 2001.

"Not only must Cambridge Plating address its recent violations, but the company must also radically change its corporate practices to avoid having repeated environmental law violations," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator at EPA's New England Office. "EPA New England's targeted assistance program gives guidance and support to responsible metal finishers, but repeat offenders like Cambridge Plating will face enforcement actions from EPA."

Cambridge Plating has a history of noncompliance with environmental regulations, including several violations of hazardous waste laws in the past decade.

According to this week's order, Cambridge Plating failed to develop a systematic plan to ensure compliance with either the degreasing or chromium electroplating regulations of the Clean Air Act. Although Cambridge Plating installed new equipment capable of meeting the required standards, the company on numerous occasions failed to carry out the required monitoring and other steps needed to demonstrate continuous compliance.

According to the order, Cambridge Plating must now follow reporting requirements that are more extensive than the minimum requirements set out in EPA's regulations, such as reporting monthly on its compliance with TCE standards.

"Because of Cambridge Plating's failure to adequately keep track of its emissions over the past several years, EPA New England is requiring the company to go above and beyond the minimum reporting requirements," Leighton said. "In this way, the public can be assured that a close watch will be kept on the hazardous pollutants."

The company was ordered to report in advance any planned change in its strategies for complying with the TCE regulations and to follow the standards set out in the Clean Air Act regarding reporting and monitoring for chromium emissions.

The complaint against Cambridge Plating is part of a larger effort by EPA to offer assistance to companies that clean or finish metal and to educate them on relevant environmental regulations.

Much of the work with the metal industry is being done through EPA's Metal Finishing Strategic Goals Program, a three-year-old program that is encouraging metal finishers to meet aggressive pollution reduction goals by the year 2002. The national program was launched in partnership with industry groups, environmental groups and state and local regulators.

EPA efforts to control pollution by the metal finishing industry stems in part from regulations enacted in the 1990s to regulate emissions of chromium, trichloroethylene and other toxic chemicals.

More information on federal regulations and how to prevent pollution is available by calling EPA's Office of Assistance and Pollution Prevention or by visiting EPA New England's web site at: http://www.epa.gov/region1/steward/neeat/metals1.html.


The EPA and the Justice Department today announced an environmental agreement with Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC that is expected to reduce air emissions from seven petroleum refineries by more than 23,000 tons per year. The states of Minnesota and Louisiana, as well as Wayne County, Mich., are joining the settlement, which is part of the EPA's national effort to reduce harmful air pollution released from refineries.

A consent decree filed today in U.S. District Court in Detroit calls for Marathon Ashland to spend an estimated $265 million to install up-to-date pollution control equipment and significantly reduce emissions from stacks, wastewater vents, leaking valves, and flares throughout its refineries. The terms of the agreement provide Marathon Ashland with the operational and design flexibility to continue meeting the public's demand for fuel and to increase production capacity, as the company complies with clean air rules.

"This settlement will control pollution wherever it originates in the refineries," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "The settlement also is expected to facilitate efficiency upgrades and increased production of gasoline over the next eight years. We are pleased with Marathon Ashland's commitment to work with us to help clean the air and protect human health."

Under the settlement, Marathon Ashland will cut emissions by using innovative technologies, incorporating improved leak detection and repair practices, and making other pollution-control upgrades. The agreement with the Findlay, Ohio-based company will affect refineries located in Robinson, Ill.; Garyville, La.; Texas City, Texas; Catlettsburg, Ky.; Detroit; Canton, Ohio; and St. Paul Park, Minn. These refineries comprise more than five percent of the total refining capacity in the United States.

"This is a victory for the environment," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "I am pleased to be working with the EPA in our fight for cleaner air and water. Enforcing environmental law is a top priority for the Department of Justice, and I look forward to protecting our natural resources and helping ensure that companies are in compliance with the law."

Marathon Ashland also will pay a $3.8 million civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and spend about $6.5 million on two environmental projects in communities affected by the refineries' pollution. The states of Minnesota and Louisiana will each receive $50,000 of the penalty under the agreement, which also resolves alleged violations of federal hazardous waste laws at the company's refineries in Michigan and Illinois.

The new control technologies and programs to be implemented at Marathon Ashland's refineries will reduce pollutants that can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma: nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate emissions, carbon monoxide, benzene and volatile organic compounds. The agreement also should lead to a substantial reduction in the number and severity of flaring incidents and should ensure the refineries' compliance with national emissions standards for benzene waste and with leak detection and repair requirements. The agreement resolves past violations of the Clean Air Act New Source Review requirements, which result when facilities fail to apply for permits and install up-to-date pollution controls when they undertake certain types of modifications.

Also today, the Justice Department on behalf of the EPA reached a separate agreement with Marathon Ashland that will reduce benzene emissions at its refinery in Robinson, Ill. This settlement, filed in U.S. District Court in Benton, Ill., calls for the company to enclose its sewer system and wastewater treatment plant. In addition, Marathon Ashland will pay a $1.67 million civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and spend another $125,000 on an emergency response project.

In March 2001, similar agreements were reached with Motiva Enterprises, Equilon Enterprises, and Deer Park Refining Limited Partnership, which will reduce air pollution at nine refineries across the country. The Marathon Ashland agreement is the federal government's fourth global settlement with refining companies in 2001. Together, these settlements provide for a comprehensive, cooperative approach to addressing these environmental problems across the industry, comprising nearly 30 percent of the total U.S. capacity, and reducing air emissions by nearly 150,000 tons per year.

Because the petroleum refining companies negotiated in good faith, these settlements have been reached without litigation.


On May 16, EPA issued a final rule that retains and slightly modifies the mixture rule and the derived-from rule. The mixture and derived-from rules ensure that hazardous wastes that are mixed with other wastes or that result from the treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous wastes do not escape regulation and thereby cause harm to human health and the environment.

According to EPA, the revisions will narrow the scope of the mixture and derived-from rules, tailoring the rules to more specifically match the risks posed by particular wastes. The first revision is an expanded exclusion for mixtures and/or derivatives of wastes listed solely for the ignitability, corrosivity, and/or reactivity characteristics. Under this final rule, all wastes listed solely for an ignitability, reactivity and/or corrosivity characteristic (including mixtures, derived-from and as generated wastes) are excluded once they no longer exhibit a characteristic.

The second revision is a new conditional exemption from the mixture and derived-from rules for ``mixed wastes'' (that is, wastes that are both hazardous and radioactive), provided the mixed waste is handled in accordance with 40 CFR 266, Subpart N. This Subpart, explains the eligibility requirements for this exemption, and includes several conditions and requirements for the exempted waste.


Two EPA scientists have developed an innovative way to detect potentially dangerous molds much faster and with more accuracy. The new technology can be used to detect the mold Stachybotrys, commonly known as "black mold" and more than 50 other possibly problematic molds.

Molds typically grow in buildings affected by water damage and have been found in homes, hospitals, schools, and office buildings. It is estimated that about 50 to l00 common indoor mold types have the potential for creating health problems. Exposure to mold has been identified as a potential cause of many health problems including asthma, sinusitis, and infections. It is also believed that molds play a major role in cases of sick building syndrome and related illnesses.

Drs. Stephen J. Vesper and Richard Haugland at the EPA Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio have developed a DNA-based system that allows rapid identification and quantification of molds in a matter of hours. Current methodologies require days or weeks to identify molds before remedial action can be taken. With the new technology, up to 96 analyses can be run simultaneously by laboratory technicians, reducing the labor required to analyze samples while significantly increasing the accuracy and validity of the analysis. The new technology also enables scientists to make risk assessments by identifying which mold is present and in what numbers.

In recognition of their work in developing the technology, the EPA scientists received the prestigious Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. They were in competition with researchers from all the Federal laboratories.

Technology is being introduced by the Environmental Technology Commercialization Center, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, one of the agency's technology transfer centers that assists U.S. industries in the licensing of EPA technologies. The technology is available for licensing on a non-exclusive basis by laboratories, indoor air quality specialists, or other environmental professionals. Aerotech Laboratories, Inc., a small Arizona business, is the first licensee under this government patent.

Additional information on molds is available at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/index.html.