EPA Action: Agency tightens rules for lead in drinking water

In other agency news: 1) Acting R&D office director named; 2) New report assesses U.S.-Mexico border water resources; 3) Permit deadline extended for oil & gas construction; 4) 54 companies join Performance Track Program; 5) Nearly one in 10 homes qualified for Energy Star in 2004; 6) Some Superfund sites to become model airplane zones; 7) Minnesota warehouse/supply firm busted for illegal hazardous waste storage, disposal; 8) El Paso disposal company officers sentenced in waste fraud scheme...

See below for the following other agency news items:
-- Acting director named for office of research and development;
-- New report assesses water resources along U.S.-Mexico border;
-- EPA extends permit deadline for oil and gas construction activities;
-- EPA welcomes 54 companies to Performance Track Program;
-- Nearly one in 10 homes qualified for Energy Star in 2004;
-- Some Superfund sites to become model airplane zones;
-- Minnesota warehouse/supply company sentenced for illegal hazardous waste storage, disposal;
-- El Paso waste disposal company officers sentenced in waste fraud scheme

EPA to strengthen protection from lead in drinking water
WASHINGTON, DC, March 8, 2005 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday it's initiating the Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan to strengthen, update and clarify existing requirements for water utilities and states to test for and reduce lead in drinking water. This action, which follows extensive analysis and assessment of current implementation of these regulations, will tighten monitoring, treatment, lead service line management and customer awareness. The plan also addresses lead in tap water in schools and child care facilities to further protect vulnerable populations.

"We need to free people from worrying about lead in their drinking water," said Ben Grumbles, EPA assistant administrator for water. "This plan will increase the accuracy and consistency of monitoring and reporting, and it ensures that where there is a problem, people will be notified and the problem will be dealt with quickly and properly."

From 1995-2004, states have concluded 1,753 enforcement actions to ensure compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), and EPA has concluded 570. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, state agencies take a lead role in enforcing the LCR.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes. Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects including behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Children six years old and under are most at risk because this is when the brain is developing. The primary source of lead exposure for most children is lead-based paint in older homes. Lead in drinking water adds to that exposure.

Drinking water does not start out containing lead. Lead is picked up as water passes through pipes and household plumbing fittings and fixtures that contain lead. Water leaches lead from these sources and becomes contaminated. In 1991, to reduce lead in drinking water, EPA issued the LCR. The LCR requires water utilities to reduce lead contamination by controlling the corrosiveness of water and, as needed, replace lead service lines used to carry water from the street to the home.

Under the LCR, if 10 percent of required sampling show lead levels above a 15 parts per billion (ppb) action level, the utility must 1) take a number of actions to control corrosion and 2) carry out public education to inform consumers of actions they can take to reduce their exposure to lead. If lead levels continue to be elevated after anti-corrosion treatment is installed, the utility must replace lead service lines.

Because virtually all lead enters water after it leaves the main system to enter individual homes and buildings, the LCR is the only drinking water regulation that requires utilities to test water at the tap. This also means that individual homes will have different levels of lead in their tap water due to the age or condition of pipes, plumbing materials and fixtures or other factors. For this reason, customer awareness and education are important components of the LCR and state and water utilities lead reduction programs.

EPA plans to propose regulatory changes to the LCR in the following areas by early 2006:

Monitoring: To ensure that water samples reflect the effectiveness of lead controls, to clarify the timing of sample collection and to tighten criteria for reducing the frequency of monitoring.

Treatment Processes: To require that utilities notify states prior to changes in treatment so that states can provide direction or require additional monitoring. EPA will also revise existing guidance to help utilities maintain corrosion control while making treatment changes.

Customer Awareness: To require that water utilities notify occupants of the results of any testing that occurs within a home or facility. EPA will also seek changes to allow states and utilities to provide customers with utility-specific advice on tap flushing to reduce lead levels.

Lead Service Line Management: To ensure that service lines that test below the action level re-evaluated after any major changes to treatment which could affect corrosion control.

Lead in Schools: The agency will update and expand 1994 guidance on testing for lead in school drinking water. EPA will emphasize partnerships with other federal agencies, utilities and schools to protect children from lead in drinking water.

In addition, the agency will convene a workshop in mid-2005 to discuss actions that can be taken to reduce the lead content of plumbing fittings and fixtures. EPA will also promote research in key areas, such as alternative approaches to tap monitoring and techniques for lead service line replacement.

The Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan arose from EPAs analysis of the current adequacy of LCR and state and local implementation. From 2004-2005, EPA collected and analyzed lead concentration data and other information required by the regulations; carried out a review of implementation in states; held four expert workshops to further discuss elements of the regulations, and worked to better understand local and state efforts to monitor for lead in school drinking water, including convening a national meeting to discuss challenges and needs.

EPA's review of state and utility implementation shows that the LCR has been effective in more than 96 percent of water systems that serve 3,300 people or more. EPA will add elements and actions to the Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan as needed based on results of any further research, analysis, and evaluation.

More information on National Review of LCR Implementation and Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan is available online at: www.epa.gov/safewater/lcrmr/lead_review.html. Information about lead in drinking water is available online at: www.epa.gov/safewater/lead or by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791. Information about lead around the home is available online at: www.epa.gov/lead or from EPA's National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

Following are other agency developments which may interest you:

Acting director named for office of research and development
President Bush has designated E. Timothy Oppelt to be Acting Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development at EPA. Oppelt has worked at EPA for 34 years, conducting research and directing national pollution control technology programs. Oppelt's career exemplifies the use of research that leads to important practical applications. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, Oppelt formed EPA's National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC). This highly specialized laboratory has developed technologies and guidance to prevent and mitigate possible chemical or biological threats to buildings and drinking water infrastructure. To accomplish this, Oppelt successfully coordinated the work of NHSRC with 18 other research groups in the departments of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of Energy and Health and Human Services. In the 1980's, his direction of EPA research on hazardous waste management led to national regulations and standards under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. In 1988, Oppelt was named Director of EPA's Risk Reduction Engineering Research Laboratory in Cincinnati. In 1995, he became Director of the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL). Under his direction, NRMRL developed the Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation Program which has produced over 200 innovative cleanup technologies. Oppelt holds degrees in civil and sanitary engineering from Cornell University and an MBA from Xavier University.

New report assesses water resources along U.S.-Mexico border
Those who decide the fate of the U.S.-Mexico border region's scarce water resources must seize every opportunity to think and act strategically. That's the conclusion reached by the Good Neighbor Environmental Board in its latest report released today: Water Resources Management on the U.S.-Mexico Border. The board, an independent advisory committee managed by EPA, advises the U.S. president and congress on environmental conditions in the border region.

The report reveals that limited supplies, pockets of poverty, a combination of jurisdictional gaps and overlaps, and many other challenging issues all conspire to make water resources management in this region difficult.

To better manage the region's water resources, the report recommends three key actions:

Institutions - Clarify current responsibilities held by U.S.-Mexico border-region institutions responsible for managing water resources. Identify jurisdictional gaps and overlaps, interpret missions to reflect changing circumstances, and leverage opportunities for stronger cross-institutional collaboration.

Data - Develop and sign formal U.S.-Mexico border-region water resources data agreements. Such agreements should support the collection, analysis and sharing of compatible data across a wide range of uses so that border-region water resources can be more effectively managed.

Strategic Planning - Implement a 5-year U.S.-Mexico border-region integrated water resources planning process. Using a stakeholder-driven watershed approach, address immediate concerns in critical areas while pursuing collaborative longer-term strategies.

Good Neighbor Environmental Board members include representatives from U.S. border states consisting of senior officials in business and industry, state and local government, federal agencies, ranching and grazing, non-profit groups, tribes, and the academic community. Each year, they meet several times in different communities along the U.S. side of the border. Members also have extensive networks across the border that include families, friends and professional contacts.

To obtain a copy of the new report, call 1-800-490-9198 and request the document by number, EPA 130-R-05-001. To view an electronic copy of the report or to obtain more information about the Board, go to its web site at: www.epa.gov/ocem/gneb.

EPA extends permit deadline for oil and gas construction activities
EPA today announced it will extend from March 10, 2005 until June 12, 2006 the deadline for stormwater permit coverage for construction activities at oil and gas exploration, production, processing, and treatment operations and transmission facilities that disturb between one and five acres of land.

Construction activities included in this extension represent less than 10 percent of all construction activities nationwide that disturb at least one acre of land.

The Agency needs more time to consider comments raised by stakeholders and to consider the economic, legal and procedural implications related to controlling stormwater discharges from these sites.

Stormwater permits control pollutants in runoff from rain and snowmelt. EPA defines land disturbance, generally, as clearing, grading, and excavating activities.

During the next 15 months, EPA intends to complete an economic impact analysis; evaluate several regulatory options for addressing these stormwater discharges; and evaluate practices and methods used to control stormwater discharges from these sites. EPA intends to hold at least one public meeting with stakeholders to exchange information on current industry practices and their effectiveness in protecting water quality.

EPA intends to develop and propose a regulation that would address stormwater discharges from these oil and gas construction sites. This rule, to be proposed by Sept. 12, 2005, will be made available to the public for review and comment. A copy of the extension and information about EPA's stormwater program is available at: www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater.

EPA welcomes Coke, Firestone, 52 other plants to 'Performance Track'
-- Program dedicated to environmental improvements beyond current regulatory requirements
WASHINGTON, DC, March 4, 2005 -- The EPA is today announcing 54 facilities from 25 states and Puerto Rico as new members in the National Environmental Performance Track Program. Performance Track rewards facilities that voluntarily exceed regulatory requirements, implement systems for improving environmental management; work with their communities, and set three-year goals for improvements in environmental performance. Only facilities with a record of sustained compliance with environmental requirements are eligible to participate in this program.

"Performance Track recognizes these facilities as environmental leaders because they deliver results beyond what is expected or required by law," said EPA Acting Administrator Steve Johnson. "These facilities demonstrate on a daily basis that economic prosperity and environmental protection can go hand in hand."

New Performance Track members have made strong commitments in a wide range of categories. For example, the Coca-Cola North America Ontario Syrup Plant in Ontario, Calif., has committed to reducing its water use by more than 2.2 million gallons over the next three years, more water than needed to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools. Fuji Hunt Photographic Chemicals in Orange Park, Fla., has committed to eliminating its use of the hazardous chemical hexane, preventing almost 264,000 pounds per year of this contaminant from entering the environment. The Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire facility in LaVergne, Tenn., has committed to reducing its annual energy use by 162,930 MMBtus, the average amount of energy 1,550 households use in one year.

Eighteen companies with existing Performance Track facilities have expanded their membership today:

-- 3M, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., added two new facilities, in Brookings, S.D., and Decatur, Ala., for a total of 14 in Performance Track;
-- Baker Petrolite, headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas, added one new facility in Houston, Texas, for a total of three;
-- Baxter Healthcare Corporation, headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., added two new facilities, in McGaw Park, Ill., and Round Lake, Ill., for a total of 10;
-- Bridgestone/Firestone, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., added one new facility in LaVergne, Tenn., for a total of six;
-- Forever Resorts, headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., added nine new facilities: Badlands Lodge in Interior, S.D.; Big Bend Resorts/Chisos Mountain Lodge in Big Bend National Park, Texas; Callville Bay Resort and Marina in Las Vegas; Fairholme Store and Marina in Port Angeles, Wash.; Hurricane Ridge Lodge in Port Angeles, Wash.; Lake Amistad Resort and Marina in Del Rio, Texas; Lake Crescent Lodge in Port Angeles, Wash.; Mammoth Cave Hotel in Mammoth Cave, Ky.; and the Marina at Lake Meredith in Fritch, Texas, for a total of 13 facilities in the program;
-- Fuji Hunt, headquartered in Allendale, N.J., added one facility in Orange Park, Fla., for a total of two;
-- Georgia-Pacific, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., added two facilities, in Vienna, Ga., and Columbus, Ohio, for a total of three;
-- Hewlett-Packard, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., added two facilities, in Boise, Idaho, and Corvallis, Ore., for a total of three;
-- Interface Fabrics, headquartered in Guilford, Maine, added one facility in East Douglas, Mass., for a total of three;
-- International Paper, headquartered in Stamford, Conn., added three new facilities, Hamilton Mill in Hamilton, Ohio, and Arizona Chemical facilities in Port St. Joe, Fla., and Valdosta, Ga., for a total of 17 facilities;
-- Johnson and Johnson, headquartered in New Brunswick, N.J., added one new facility, the ALZA Corporation, Mountain View, Calif., for a total of 40;
-- Marathon Ashland, headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, added its headquarters facility for a total of two facilities in Performance Track;
-- Montenay Power Corporation, headquartered in New York, N.Y., added one facility in York, Pa., for a total of three;
-- New Hampshire Ball Bearings, headquartered in Chatworth, Calif., added two facilities: its corporate headquarters in Chatworth, Calif., and a facility in Laconia, N.H., for a total of three;
-- Pfizer Inc., headquartered in New York, N.Y., added two facilities, in Holland, Mich., and White Hall, Ill., for a total of seven;
-- Rockwell Collins, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, added one facility in Atlanta, Ga., for a total of 10;
-- Spartech Corporation, headquartered in Clayton, Mo., added three facilities in Paulding, Ohio, Donora, Pa., and Arlington, Texas, for a total of four; and
-- Teradyne, headquartered in Boston, added one facility in Nashua, N.H., for a total of two facilities in Performance Track.

Other new Performance Track members include:
-- Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine;
-- BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing, Tuscaloosa, Ala.;
-- Brooklyn Navy Yard Cogeneration Partners, Brooklyn, N.Y.;
-- Covanta Mid-Connecticut, Inc., Hartford, Conn.;
-- Hunter Douglas Tupelo Center, Tupelo, Miss.;
-- IMCO Recycling, Saginaw, Mich.;
-- Karl Schmidt Unisia, Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind.;
-- Osram-Sylvania Products, Inc., Hillsborough, N.H.;
-- Schering-Plough Products L.L.C., Las Piedras, Puerto Rico.;
-- SEMASS Resource Recovery Facility, Rochester, Mass.;
-- Sharp Manufacturing Company, Memphis, Tenn.;
-- Southeastern Connecticut Resource Recovery Facility, Preston, Conn.;
-- Weyerhaeuser Structurwood, Grayling, Mich.;
-- World Resources Company, Pottsville, Pa.; and
-- Xerox Supplies Manufacturing Plant, Oklahoma City, Okla.

EPA also welcomes the following federal facilities: Capulin Volcano National Monument in New Mexico, and Performance Track's first National Forest, the Wallowa Whitman National Forest in Oregon.

Since the program's inception in June 2000, Performance Track membership has grown and produced solid environmental results. The program currently has over 350 members in 46 states and Puerto Rico. To date, Performance Track members have collectively reduced their water use by 1.3 billion gallons and their generation of solid waste by nearly 970,000 tons, increased their use of reused or recycled materials by nearly 77,000 tons, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 67,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Performance Track encourages participation by all-size facilities. The major industries are represented, with manufacturers of chemical, electronic and electrical, and medical equipment composing nearly 40 percent of the current members. The public sector is also represented by members such as national defense installations, postal facilities, and municipalities. Performance Track provides incentives that promote high levels of environmental performance and a learning network in which best practices are shared. These benefits translate to greater efficiency and reduced costs for both Performance Track facilities and environmental regulators.

In a related issue, on Feb. 24, EPA recognized corporate-wide environmental leadership for the first time under Performance Track. Historically a facility-based program, Performance Track added this Corporate Leader designation to recognize companies that have demonstrated a commitment to company-wide environmental excellence.

For more information on Performance Track membership benefits, visit: www.epa.gov/performancetrack/benefits. For information on the program in general, visit: http://www.epa.gov/performancetrack/ For more information on the Corporate Leader designation, visit: www.epa.gov/performancetrack/corporateleaders.

Nearly one in 10 homes qualified for Energy Star in 2004
Nearly 10 percent of all homes built in 2004 qualified for Energy Star, according to an EPA report. Since 1995 more than 350,000 of the nation's new homes have met Energy Star ratings, saving homeowners an estimated $200 million and eliminating approximately 4 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions of about 150,000 vehicles.

Home energy use accounts for nearly 17 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 15 percent of energy consumption nationwide. For the past 10 years, EPA has been working with the housing industry, utilities, states, and independent energy efficiency home ratings professionals to bring increased energy efficiency to the homebuilding industry. Today more than 2,500 builders are committed to building Energy Star qualified homes, and in some markets 20 to 40 percent of new housing starts earn the Energy Star.

New homes that qualify for the Energy Star designation use about 30 percent less energy than a home built to the model energy code without compromising comfort or quality. Energy Star qualified homes can be found in every state and the District of Columbia. States with the most Energy Star qualified homes include Texas, with more than 91,000 qualifying homes, California with more than 52,000 qualifying homes, and Arizona, with more than 41,000 qualifying homes. States with at least 10 percent of new homes earning the Energy Star in 2004 include Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont.

For more information, or a copy of the report, "A Decade of Change in Homebuilding with Energy Star, visit: www.energystar.gov or call the Energy Star Hotline at 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937).

Some Superfund sites to become model airplane zones
The EPA's Office of Superfund Remediation & Technology Innovation has agreed to permit the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) to use reclaimed Superfund sites for model airplane meets. In return, the hobbyist organization will mow and otherwise maintain those portions of the sites they use.

The EPA will determine which sites match the AMA's desired physical characteristics and be most appropriate for the academy's use. The resulting listed sites will be made available for further development. "We expect the partnership with the Academy of Model Aeronautics to help many communities return Superfund sites to productive and appropriate use," said Superfund Director Mike Cook. "It is part of the added priority EPA has placed on land revitalization and reuse so that once-contaminated land can once again become an asset to the community."

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, headquartered in Muncie, Ind., is described as "the world's largest sport aviation organization." It claims 170,000 members in 2,500 chapters in the United States.

For more information, go to: www.epa.gov/superfund/programs/recycle/news/modelair.htm.

Enforcement Wrap-up for the Week of March 3
Minnesota warehouse/supply company sentenced for illegal hazardous waste storage and disposal -- Roof Depot, which owned a store in Minneapolis, Minn., was sentenced on Feb. 16 in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by illegally storing and disposing of hazardous wastes. The court ordered Roof Depot to pay a $75,000 criminal fine, pay restitution of more than $36,000 to the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services (HCDES) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, pay an additional $50,000 in restitution to the Midwest Environmental Enforcement Association, provide in-kind contributions of goods worth $190,000 to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, serve five years probation and pay a special assessment of $400. In September 1998, the company brought several pallet-loads of hazardous waste roofing cement, strippers and solvents to its facility on 28th St. in Minneapolis and stored them behind some buildings under a tarp. In March 1999, these hazardous wastes were buried in an unloading dock area that the company was filling and grading. The case was investigated by the Minneapolis Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division with the assistance of the City of Minneapolis and HCDES. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis.

El Paso waste disposal company officers sentenced in waste fraud scheme -- Hector Villa and Denise Y. Villa-Aceves, principals in Villafam Contracting Services, LLC, in El Paso, Texas, were sentenced on Feb. 16 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in El Paso for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud the City of El Paso. From April 1999 to July 2003, the defendants were involved in a scheme to submit fraudulent invoices to the city. The defendants inflated the amounts they charged for the hazardous waste their company collected and disposed of under a contract with the city. Hector Villa was ordered to serve five years in prison, pay $685,410.35 in restitution to he City of El Paso and will be placed on three years of court supervision when he is released from prison. Denise Y. Villa-Aceves was sentenced to three years of probation and was ordered to perform 300 hours of community service. The case was investigated by the El Paso Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. The U.S. attorney's office in El Paso prosecuted this case.

For additional EPA reports across the country by region, see: www.epa.gov/newsroom/#map.

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