EPA Action: Federal plan to cut power plant pollution contested by six Northeast states

Also in this report: Owner, operator of tanker plead guilty to dumping charges; Lead & Copper Rule working group being empanelled on public education needs; Security training modules for water utilities released; Scouts encouraged to participate Oct. 18 in World Water Monitoring Day; $100 million settlement reached for cleanup of Montana reservoir; Animal feeding operation air agreement signup period extended...

In other agency news, below, see:
-- Owner, operator of tanker plead guilty to dumping charges
-- Lead & Copper Rule working group being empanelled on public education needs
-- Security training modules for water utilities released
-- Scouts encouraged to participate in World Water Monitoring Day on Oct. 18
-- $100 million settlement reached for cleanup of Milltown Reservoir
-- Animal feeding operation air agreement signup period extended

Federal plan to ensure power plant pollution cuts contested by six Northeast states
WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 8, 2005 -- A proposal unveiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month to ensure power plant pollution cuts is being contested by several Northeast states that claim, according to Associated Press reports, that new rules governing power plants' use of water will cause continued fish kills and other environmental harm.

The regulations outline how power plants nationwide can use water from bays, rivers, lakes, oceans and other waterways for cooling. Older, largely fossil-fuel driven plants more likely in these Rust Belt states, however, draw in large amounts of water for cooling. And scientists and environmentalists have expressed concern because the process often kills fish, larvae and eggs while the water is being drawn or as it's heated.

These states have asked the court to reject a section of the rule that allows power plant operators to avoid installing technology to sharply reduce the amount of water a plant needs to draw. Currently, plants can continue to take in large amounts of water, if they restore any environmental damage caused.

Filed July 5 in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, the lawsuit is lead by Rhode Island because of the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Mass., a coal-fired plant that uses mostly Rhode Island water for cooling operations. Rhode Island is joined in the suit by Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, with initial arguments expected in March.

The AP report noted that the R.I. plant, located near the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border and purchased by Dominion last January, currently takes in about a billion gallons of water daily from Mount Hope Bay, an amount equivalent to draining the 14-square mile body of water about seven times a year. Water returned to the bay is 30 degrees warmer than when drawn in, according to EPA analyses. In October 2003, the EPA and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit requiring Brayton Point to cut its water intake by 94%. The plant appealed to the Environmental Appeals Board in Washington.

In announcing the proposal, the EPA stated Aug. 1 it was to ensure emissions reductions required under the landmark Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) are achieved. As such, the agency is proposing a federal implementation plan (FIP) to require power plants in CAIR states to participate in one or more of three separate cap and trade programs. As part of this action, it's responding also to North Carolina's March 2004 petition under section 126 of the Clean Air Act.

"With today's action, we are another step closer to cutting and capping power plant pollution in the eastern United States by almost 70% below today's levels," said Jeff Holmstead, EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation. "North Carolina is reducing pollution already, and our action will make the state's air cleaner still, ensuring that it meets federal air quality standards on time."

The proposed FIP would require power plants in the 28 CAIR states and the District of Columbia to participate in cap and trade programs to reduce annual sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, annual nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, and ozone season NOx emissions. EPA also is proposing the FIP for New Jersey and Delaware, based on a proposal to include those states in CAIR for fine particle pollution.

The FIP would not limit states' flexibility in meeting their CAIR requirements. EPA would withdraw the federal plan for any state once that state's own plan for meeting CAIR requirements is in place.

CAIR will permanently cap emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the eastern United States. When fully implemented, CAIR will reduce SO2 emissions in 28 Eastern states and the District of Columbia by more than 70% and NOx emissions by more than 60% from 2003 levels. This will result in more than $100 billion in health and visibility benefits per year by 2015 and will substantially reduce premature mortality in the eastern United States. These benefits will continue to grow each year with further implementation.

The emission reductions under CAIR will satisfy the portion of a North Carolina petition seeking reductions in fine particle-forming emissions from upwind states. As part of today's proposal, EPA is finding that emissions from 10 states significantly contribute to fine particle pollution in North Carolina. The agency is proposing to address that portion of the petition through the proposed FIP.

EPA's analyses also show that upwind states don't contribute to ozone problems in North Carolina, which is expected to meet the 8-hour ozone standard by 2010. Based on those analyses, EPA is proposing to deny the portion of North Carolina's petition related to ozone.

North Carolina filed the petition under Section 126 of the Clean Air Act, which authorizes states to ask EPA to set emission controls for major emissions sources in upwind states, if EPA finds that the sources significantly contribute to nonattainment problems in downwind states. Under a consent agreement, EPA must issue a final response to the petition by March 15, 2006.

The EPA will hold public hearings on this proposal on Sept. 14 at its offices in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Sept. 15 at its offices in Washington, D.C. The agency also will accept written public comment for 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register. To learn more about this action, visit: http://epa.gov/cair/rule.html.

Additional reporting above drawn from N.Y.'s Newsday newspaper.

Owner, operator of tanker plead guilty to dumping charges
WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 4, 2005 (U.S. Newswire) -- On July 14, 2005, Fairdeal Group Management SA, a ship operator based in Greece, and Fair Voyager Maritime SA, a ship owner based in Liberia, each pleaded guilty to charges that included dumping sludge and oily bilge water into international waters and obstruction of justice. The companies were immediately sentenced by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to pay a $1,050,000 fine and engage in community service by donating $450,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The crimes took place between April 21, 2004, and Nov. 20, 2004, when the crew of the Motor Transport Fair Voyager used a bypass pipe to dump as much as 60 tons of sludge and 40 tons of oily bilge water into the ocean. The companies and crew also obstructed justice by making false entries in an oil record book. Dumping tons of pollutants into the oceans can harm aquatic life, the environment, and the health of humans, who may become exposed to the pollutants in sufficient quantities under certain circumstances. The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and the New York Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York.

Nominees sought for Lead & Copper Rule working group on public education needs
WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 3, 2005 (WaterNews) -- The EPA is announcing the formation of a working group of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council on the public education requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule. We are asking all interested persons to nominate qualified individuals to serve on the working group. EPA is reviewing the public education requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule and asking the Council to provide their comments and recommendations to ensure that at risk populations are receiving the necessary information to protect themselves from exposure to lead. Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified individuals for membership on the working group. A Federal Register notice was published on July 22, 2005, announcing our call for nominations. The notice describes the general description of the working group charge, the criteria for selecting members, and the specific directions for submitting member nominations. We are asking that nominations be submitted via U.S. mail on or before August 22, 2005. Address all nominations to Elizabeth McDermott, Designated Federal Officer, National Drinking Water Advisory Council Working Group on Public Education, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, Mail Code 4606M, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460. Or contact her at mcdermott.elizabeth@epa.gov or 202-564-1603 for more information.

Security training modules for water utilities released
Through an EPA grant, drinking water and wastewater utilities now have comprehensive training modules to incorporate enhanced security measures into facility design, operation and management. These modules are based on the three recently-released interim voluntary security guidance documents developed by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The training modules provide a tool to inform managers, operations personnel, design professionals, and regulatory officials involved in drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities with detailed practical assistance for implementing improved security measures in new and existing facilities of all sizes. Training modules are provided in MS Word, MS PowerPoint and PDF formats on a CD-ROM, and are available free of charge. To request a copy of the CD, send an email to wise@asce.org. The guidance documents are available at: www.asce.org/static/1/wise.cfm.

Scouts encouraged to participate Oct. 18 in World Water Monitoring Day
America's Clean Water Foundation (ACWF) is partnering with EPA, the Girls Scouts of the USA, and the Boy Scouts of America to encourage broader participation in World Water Monitoring Day on Oct. 18. ACWF provided a WWMD banner and fact sheets for EPA's exhibit along the Conservation Trail at this year's Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort AP Hill, VA. ACWF also developed a flyer with information and tips for Girl Scout Councils and troops interested in participating in WWMD. This information is available on the Linking Girls to the Land Web site at www.epa.gov/linkinggirls/. The Linking Girls to the Land Web site includes information about other environmental activities for Girl Scouts, including the Get with the Land and Water Drop Patch projects, along with programs sponsored by other federal agencies.

$100 million settlement reached for cleanup of Milltown Reservoir
WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 2, 2005 (U.S. Newswire) -- The Atlantic Richfield Co. and NorthWestern Corp. have agreed to complete a $100 million-plus cleanup of the Milltown Reservoir, removing millions of cubic yards of contaminated sediments and decommissioning and removing the Milltown Dam, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. The State of Montana and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are also signatories to the settlement.

This agreement will result in the cleanup of decades' worth of contamination caused by the downstream transport of mining wastes from extensive upstream operations in Butte and Anaconda. It will lead to safer drinking water for Milltown residents, improved native and sport fishing, local economic redevelopment, and improvement of conditions in the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers in southwestern Montana. The agreement follows other settlements with Atlantic Richfield in the Clark Fork Basin under which cleanups will proceed and the state and federal governments' costs will be reimbursed. The parties plan to continue their negotiations in an effort to reach further agreements on the cleanup of other locations in the Clark Fork Basin contaminated by mining wastes.

"We are pleased that Atlantic Richfield and the NorthWestern Corporation have agreed to the cleanup and restoration of the Milltown Reservoir area," said Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Today's settlement follows other important settlements in the Clark Fork Basin and will substantially improve the environment and restore valuable natural resources for the people of Montana. This settlement adds to the momentum created by earlier agreements. We hope today's agreement will keep the parties focused on securing cleanup in the Basin by cooperation rather than litigation and will lead to similar future successes."

Under the consent decree, the Atlantic Richfield Company-a subsidiary of British Petroleum-has agreed to remove almost 2.5 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Milltown Reservoir. The Milltown Dam spillway and related structures will be removed so that recontamination does not occur and so that the cleanup of polluted ground water at the site will be completed quickly. Following this work, the State of Montana, acting as the lead natural resource damage trustee, will implement a streambank channelization and revegetation effort that will enhance fish habitat and be compatible with redevelopment of the area.

"Today's agreement is an important milestone that sets the stage for the long-awaited cleanup of this area. I commend all the parties involved on their ability to come to agreement for the greater public and environmental good," said Robbie Roberts, EPA's Regional Administrator in Denver, Colorado. "The cleanup that will result from this agreement is a tremendous undertaking and a testimony to the leadership of the State of Montana and Missoula County. We are removing a dam to give new life to these rivers and the local community."

The settlement also requires that both Atlantic Richfield and NorthWestern provide funds historic preservation; bull trout mitigation; removal of the nearby Stimson Dam, mitigation for a State-owned bridge and highway; reimbursement for past and future federal response and oversight costs related to the Milltown project.

"I salute the excellent work reflected in this settlement," said United States Attorney William Mercer for the District of Montana. "It illustrates how the public interest is served best in many instances when parties agree to forego litigation and focus instead on building an agreement that significantly improves conditions in our state."

The EPA anticipates that the remediation and restoration will occur over the next six to seven years. Redevelopment efforts will be spearheaded by the Milltown Redevelopment Working Group, a local community-based organization that has crafted a site reuse plan which has been adopted by the Missoula County Commissioners. Its implementation is scheduled to follow remediation and restoration of the sites.

The agreement will be the subject of a 30-day public comment period beginning with publication of the Federal Register notice for the settlement.

During the public comment period, the consent decree may also be examined on the Department of Justice website, at: www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html.

The consent decree and other information related to the Milltown Site are available on the internet at: www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/sites/mt/milltowncfr/reservo irou.html or www.epa.gov/region8/.

Comments should be sent to: John C. Cruden Deputy Assistant Attorney General Environment and Natural Resources Division U.S. Department of Justice P.O. Box 7611 Washington, DC 20044-7611. Refer to U.S. v. Atlantic Richfield Company (D.Mt.), DOJ Case Number 90-11-2-430.

Animal feeding operation air agreement signup period extended
WASHINGTON, DC, July 29, 2005 -- The EPA is extending the sign-up period for the Animal Feeding Operation Air Compliance Agreement, until Aug. 12, 2005. EPA granted the extension in response to requests to provide interested operators adequate time to complete the paperwork necessary to participate in the agreement. This agreement is part of the agency's ongoing effort to minimize air emissions from certain animal feeding operations, also known as AFOs, and to ensure that they comply with the Clean Air Act and other laws. To date, more than 1,000 operators have signed agreements. The participants represent a cross-section of the animal industry sector, including swine, egg-layers and meat birds, and dairy operations. Over the past two years, EPA has worked extensively to hear and address the concerns of all the major stakeholders on these issues, including state and local governments, citizen groups, national environmental groups, and the AFO industry. Instructions on how to sign up and related materials on the Animal Feeding Operation Air Compliance Agreement can be found in the Federal Register and on EPA's website at: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/agreements/caa/cafo-agr-0501.html

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In earlier EPA updates, see: "EPA Action: $1B SSO settlement reached with Baltimore, Washington sewer agencies" -- ALSO in this report (July 29, 2005): Office of Water launches new Watershed Discussion Board; Better beach health spotlighted in new U.S. data; Partnership to improve water security in U.S., Israel; Sixteen leaders in pesticide stewardship recognized; Comments sought on pesticide review process; Agreement will lead to better understanding of PFOA sources; Agency settles AEP, Sewall Gear chemical release cases; cites Minn., Mich. companies; Agency orders businessman, companies to cleanup Long Beach abandoned plating shop; Two men charged with violating Clean Water Act in Tennessee; Oil company in Readsboro to pay $15,000 for violations of oil regulations; Agency releases EPA Tribal Water Plan; Consent decree filed in Gloucester CWA suit; Great Lakes Regional Collaboration strategy released; EPA clarifies industrial startup, shutdown and malfunction requirements...

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