EPA Action: Annual Superfund data shows continuing cleanup progress

Also in this report: Agency grants more comment on two clean air proposals; Latest sampling data from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita posted; New rule solves Fla. wastewater problem; Early release of 2004 TRI data; Cities cited for balancing development, environmental protection; EPA enforcement cuts pollution by 1B pounds, requires $10B spent on cleanup; 12 watersheds to split $9M in grants; U.S. pledges faster greenhouse gas cuts with methane program; Nominees sought for National Wetland Awards...

Nov 23rd, 2005

In other agency news:
-- EPA grants more comment time on the Clean Air Interstate Rule
-- Public comment extended on proposal to help states meet fine particle standards
-- EPA posts sampling data from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
-- New federal rule solves longstanding Florida wastewater problem
-- Early release of reporting year 2004 TRI data
-- More public comment sought on actions regulating utility mercury emissions
-- CA, FL, CT, CO cities cited for balancing development, environmental protection
-- EPA announces research fellowships
-- EPA releases performance, accountability report for FY2005
-- EPA enforcement cuts pollution by 1B pounds, requires $10B to be spent on cleanup
-- Vermillion River watershed among 12 to receive EPA grants
-- EPA, MDEQ release results of Mississippi water quality study
-- U.S., China reaffirm commitment on environmental cooperation
-- U.S., global partners pledge faster greenhouse gas reductions with methane program
-- EPA applauds Midwest brownfield redevelopment projects as national models
-- Opening of nominations for the 2006 National Wetland Awards
-- Next Water Quality Trading Conference set for May 2006
-- EPA awards $2 million for local environmental protection projects

Annual Superfund data shows continuing cleanup progress
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 23, 2005 -- The Superfund Program continues to make significant progress in cleaning up America's contaminated sites, according to annual data released yesterday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The annual summary, covering Fiscal Year 2005 (which ended Sept. 30), confirms that EPA completed work at 40 sites, for a cumulative total of 966 sites with work completed -- 62% of the top priority sites ranked on the National Priorities List. EPA conducted 665 ongoing cleanup projects at 422 sites (includes projects led by EPA, projects led by potentially responsible parties and federal facility sites). EPA funded new work at 17 projects across the country. Superfund also continued to prepare for future cleanup efforts by listing 18 new sites and proposing 12 sites to be added to the NPL...
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EPA grants more comment time on the Clean Air Interstate Rule
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 23, 2005 -- The EPA is granting the public additional time to comment on certain aspects of the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). CAIR requires 28 States and the District of Columbia to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) from power plants. Today's action will not delay implementation of the rule, which will achieve the largest reduction in air pollution in more than a decade. The agency issued the final CAIR on March 10, 2005. It has received 11 requests from states, environmental groups and power companies to reconsider certain parts of the final CAIR rule...
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Public comment extended on proposal to help states meet fine particle standards
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 23, 2005 -- The EPA is extending until Jan. 31, 2006 the public comment period on the agency's proposed rule outlining steps that state, local and tribal governments must take to reduce fine particle pollution (PM2.5) in areas that do not meet EPA's health-based air quality standards. The proposed rule, known as the PM2.5 Implementation Rule, describes the planning framework and requirements for state, local and tribal governments to consider when developing their plans to reduce air pollution to meet the PM2.5 standards. Areas meeting the standard must show how they will ensure that PM2.5 levels remain below the standards. The agency will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the Capitol Hilton, 1001 16th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036...
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EPA posts sampling data from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 22, 2005 -- The EPA released several updates on environmental sampling in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita:
"EPA Releases Air Monitoring Data for Louisiana and Mississippi"
"Sediment Sampling Data from Orleans; 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish"
"EPA Releases More Murphy Oil Sampling Data"
"Data from Five Superfund Sites in Hurricane-Affected Area Posted"
For additional information on the agency's responses to natural disasters in the 2005 hurricane season, see: www.epa.gov/katrina/.

New federal rule solves longstanding Florida wastewater problem
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 18, 2005 -- Following extensive study, analysis and development, the EPA has finalized an approach to disposal of wastewater that offers greater protection for underground sources of drinking water and potential savings for wastewater treatment facilities in Florida. The Underground Injection Control (UIC) rule sharply reduces the possibility of contamination from wastewater injected into deep wells. Facilities may opt for one of several approaches as long as their action brings them into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Those that use the UIC method must have industrial pretreatment so that various sources of effluent remove major contaminants before the water enters the wastewater treatment plant. Treatment facilities, in turn, add a secondary level of treatment and then high-level disinfection to inactivate pathogenic organisms. This results in water that meets the same standard as is required by the State of Florida for reuse water applied on lawns, golf courses and similar applications...
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Early release of reporting year 2004 TRI data
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 17, 2005 -- To better inform communities, EPA today released the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) facility-level data for Reporting Year 2004. These data are being released through the Electronic Facility Data Release (e-FDR), which displays the TRI data exactly as received by EPA - one form for each chemical at a facility. Many stakeholders have requested that EPA share TRI data sooner and in the format received, without waiting for further analysis, and this is the second year that EPA is doing an e-FDR. The "raw" data released today is not grouped and as easily searchable as the traditional Public Data Release (PDR), which also includes more quality checks, national trends and analysis. The e-FDR is intended to get data to communities faster - not to replace the PDR. EPA will still publish the complete PDR in spring 2006...
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More public comment sought on actions regulating utility mercury emissions
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 16, 2005 -- The EPA was to hold a hearing Thursday, Nov. 17, 2005, to provide opportunity for additional public comment. The agency is granting requests for additional comment on the first-ever rule to regulate mercury emissions from power plants. Finalized in March, 2005, these rules will result in approximately 70% reductions in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants when fully implemented. It's granting the public additional time for comment on portions of its 112 Revision rule, the methods the EPA used to assess the amount of utility-attributable mercury levels in fish tissue and the public health implications of those levels, and the legal issues underlying the decision. The agency will also take comment on certain aspects of the Clean Air Mercury Rule, the cap-and-trade approach that the agency will use to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants...
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CA, FL, CT, CO cities cited for balancing development, environmental protection
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 16, 2005 -- The EPA today presented its 2005 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement to five communities in California, Florida, Connecticut and Colorado for innovative approaches to development that strengthen community identity and protect the environment. As communities around the country look for ways to grow that protect and enhance their natural environments and create prosperity, many are turning to smart growth strategies. They are cleaning and reusing previously developed land; providing more housing and transportation choices; preserving critical natural areas; and developing vibrant places to live, work, shop and play. In addition to creating great communities, these smart growth strategies also protect the quality of our air, water and land...
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EPA announces research fellowships
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 16, 2005 -- The EPA today announced the award of 165 research fellowships for students pursuing degrees in environmental studies, with a total of nearly $10 million in awards. The agency sponsors several fellowship programs designed to ensure a well-trained scientific workforce that can address future environmental issues. The Science to Achieve Results (STAR) graduate fellowship program supports masters and doctoral candidates in environmental fields at accredited U.S. colleges or universities. For 2005 awards, more than 1700 applicants competed for 128 STAR fellowships. Research fellows represent 110 universities in 43 states and the District of Columbia, with students pursuing degrees in biology, toxicology, ecology and environmental sciences...
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EPA releases performance, accountability report for FY2005
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 16, 2005 -- The EPA has released the agency's Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2005, meeting the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and other management legislation. The 1993 GPRA requires federal agencies to report to Congress annually on the results of their activities during the fiscal year. Among the report's highlights:
• EPA announced new clean air rules for mercury and interstate air pollution that are expected to dramatically reduce emissions of pollutants from power plants.
• EPA launched a "Clean Diesel Campaign" to reduce emissions from new and existing diesel engines. The campaign includes regulatory and voluntary efforts to reduce emissions of particulate matter and ozone.
• EPA and state partners attained water quality standards in an additional eight% of waters previously identified as impaired.
• EPA completed cleanup of 40 sites on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) for a cumulative total of 966 sites cleaned up, more than 64% of the sites on the NPL.
• In FY 2005, EPA announced $76.7 million in brownfields grant funding to recipients in 45 states. (Since the beginning of the program, brownfields grantees have assessed 7,752 properties and attracted $7.2 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding, creating 33,599 jobs.)
• EPA reduced, treated, or eliminated more than 1.1 billion pounds of pollutants as a result of agency enforcement actions...
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EPA enforcement cuts pollution by 1B pounds, requires $10B to be spent on cleanup
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 15, 2005 -- EPA enforcement actions in fiscal year 2005 resulted in legal commitments by companies, governments and other regulated entities to reduce a projected 1.1 billion pounds of pollution and require that they spend a record $10 billion to come into compliance with environmental laws. This is an increase of $5 billion over last year. EPA's criminal enforcement program helped successfully prosecute some of the largest environmental crimes in history in FY 2005, with judges imposing significant sentences and large criminal fines. Most annual measures of the agency's enforcement and compliance activity surpassed or kept pace with previous years, indicating continued progress in deterring violations of the nation's environmental laws. Among the environmental benefits resulting from agency actions during FY 2005, EPA estimates that 28.2 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and 1.6 billion cubic yards of contaminated water will be cleaned up; 1,900 acres of wetlands will be protected; and the drinking water of more than 8 million Americans be safer. Criminal defendants will pay $100 million in criminal fines and restitution and serve more than 186 years in jail. Our 10 biggest air pollution cases will reduce more than 620 million pounds of pollutants annually and that will produce annual human health benefits valued at more than $4.6 billion. The benefits include reductions in premature mortality, bronchitis, hospitalizations and work days lost...
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Vermillion River watershed among 12 to receive EPA grants
CHICAGO, Nov. 15, 2005 -- The EPA Region V Office announced the agency has chosen the Vermillion River watershed in Minnesota to receive a $675,000 Targeted Watershed Grant. It is among 12 watersheds nationwide eligible to receive part of $9 million for innovative water quality protection projects.

The grant will be given to the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization to protect a high-quality trout stream in an urbanizing area through the development of a trading program. The EPA grant with $250,000 in matching local funds will be used to preserve the cold water inflows that make the river a perfect trout habitat. It will allow landowners to buy or trade infiltration and buffering functions. The 372-square-mile watershed is the largest in the Twin Cities region.

"The goal of EPA's Targeted Watersheds Grant Program is to build on the successes of innovative local initiatives such as the Vermillion River project," said EPA Regional Administrator Tom Skinner. "This is what can be accomplished when people from all walks of life sit at the same table and work collaboratively. This kind of community effort improves water quality, and it improves the quality of life."

"Of course, we're honored that EPA chose our application as one of their 2005 winners," said Dakota County Board Commissioner Joseph A. Harris. "We will now be able to put our work plan into action much more quickly than we had originally thought we could. The end result will be preserving and restoring the Vermillion River to a healthy, sustainable water body using sound scientific and economic criteria to manage land uses within the watershed."

Sheryl Corrigan, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner, said, "This generous grant will enable the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Association to make significant progress in protecting water quality in this unique and important watershed in our metropolitan area. It will build on the progress made with the help of an earlier EPA grant for $57,800 awarded in 2000. Together these grants are helping the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency achieve its goal of reducing nonpoint-source pollution of the state's rivers and improving the water quality essential to Minnesota's future growth."

Other watersheds that received 2005 grants under this program include the Skagit, WA, Willamette River, OR, Trinity River/Lower Klamath, CA, Upper Sevier River, UT, Tangipoha River, LA, Little River, TN, Cheat River, W.V., Tuttle Creek Lake, NE/KS, Huff Run, OH, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, and Presumpscot River/Cascoe Bay, ME. Project summaries are available at: www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/initiative/2005projsumm.html.

The three-year-old Targeted Watersheds Grant Program fosters community-based initiatives to help protect, preserve and restore local or regional watersheds. More information about this year's selections and the grants program is at www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/initiative/2005/2005grantsolicit.html.

EPA, MDEQ release results of Mississippi water quality study
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 10, 2005 -- The EPA and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) have completed a water quality study along major bay systems on the Mississippi coast following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that showed few chemicals of concern in bays and rivers where samples were taken. The study looked for any serious short term problems with water quality. EPA and MDEQ specifically targeted areas with the greatest potential for environmental harm because of the proximity to industrial or municipal areas. Overall, the sampling data show that few water quality criteria were exceeded during the study. In areas where elevated contamination levels were found, EPA and MDEQ will continue to evaluate the need for additional site specific studies to determine if there are any further adverse environmental impacts. Samples collected show bacteria concentrations at or below levels EPA considers suitable for swimming...
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U.S., China reaffirm commitment on environmental cooperation
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 8, 2005 -- To protect the global environment for future generations, EPA works with many international partners. Today, the inaugural meeting of the Joint Committee on Environmental Cooperation (JCEC) was held in Washington by the USEPA and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) of the People's Republic of China. The meeting was co-chaired by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and SEPA Minister Xie Zhenhua, with more than two dozen senior environment officials from the United States and China in attendance. The JCEC was established in December 2003 by a Memorandum of Understanding on environmental Scientific and Technical Cooperation signed by the USEPA and SEPA. The memorandum outlined a number of potential collaborative areas, with an immediate focus on prevention and management of air pollution, water contamination, and the environmental impacts of toxic substances. Each of these three areas is the subject of a separate annex to the agreement and managed by a joint working group...
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U.S., global partners pledge faster greenhouse gas reductions with methane program
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 7, 2005 -- U.S. government officials and their counterparts in 16 countries committed to accelerated action to recover and use methane as a clean energy source at the second annual Methane to Markets Partnership meeting, which concluded Nov. 4. Key actions include the addition of Ecuador as the 17th member of the partnership and a commitment from the partners to increase participating countries and the number of projects worldwide. To date, 17 countries have joined the Methane to Markets Partnership and committed to advancing cost-effective, near-term methane recovery and use as a source of clean energy. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 23 times as effective as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere...
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EPA applauds Midwest brownfield redevelopment projects as national models
CHICAGO, Nov 7, 2005 -- EPA Regional Administrator Thomas V. Skinner recently presented several Midwest communities and organizations with certificates of appreciation for outstanding brownfields work. The recognition for commitment to excellence came as part of this year's National Brownfields Conference in Denver. Brownfields are abandoned or contaminated industrial sites. Honored projects included Northwestern Steel & Wire, Sterling, IL; Newporte Landing, LaPorte, IN; Mason Run, Monroe, MI; Hmong Funeral Home, St. Paul, MN; St. Michael's Hospital, Cleveland, OH; King & Hadley Cleanup, Milwaukee, WI; and the Milwaukee Community Service Corps Brownfields Job Training Pilot...
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Opening of nominations for the 2006 National Wetland Awards
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 3, 2005 (WaterNews) -- Nomination forms for the 2006 National Wetlands Awards Program are now available. The Awards will be given in six categories: Education and Outreach; Science Research; Conservation and Restoration; Landowner Stewardship; State, Tribal, and Local Program Development; and Wetland Community Leader. To download the nomination form, please visit the Environmental Law Institute's website at www2.eli.org/nwa/nwaprogram.htm. The deadline for submitting nominations is Dec. 15. For more information or questions about the National Wetlands Awards Program, please e-mail wetlandsawards@eli.org, or contact Jared Thompson at 202-939-3247. For information about American Wetlands Month, contact Judy Bailey at 202-566-1380. Program co-sponsors are the Environmental Law Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Federal Highway Administration.

Next Water Quality Trading Conference set for May 2006
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 3, 2005 (WaterNews) -- The Second National Water Quality Trading Conference will be held May 23-25, 2006, in Pittsburgh, PA. The conference is hosted by EPA and USDA and sponsored by a number of organizations, agencies, and companies. A one-day pre-conference workshop on Trading Basics, taught by EPA, will be held on May 22, 2006. For details, including a call for abstracts, go to: http://cfpub2.epa.gov/npdes/courseinfo.cfm?program_id=0&outreach_id=267&schedule_id=851. For other information please contact Virginia Kibler at 202-564-0596 or kibler.virginia@epa.gov or Carl Lucero at 301-504-2222 or Carl.Lucero@wdc.usda.gov.

EPA awards $2 million for local environmental protection projects
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 3, 2005 -- Twelve communities across the United States received a share of $2 million in EPA grants to reduce the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals and enhance community education. The grants, awarded under EPA's new Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program, will help communities develop collaborative strategies to achieve local environmental protection goals. Award recipients will address a wide variety of environmental health issues in both rural and urban areas. Examples of projects include a watershed management and air toxics plan in New Haven, Conn., an air toxics reduction program in the Grace Hill community of St. Louis, Mo., and an outreach program to protect against contamination in lakes and drinking water in Muskegon County, Mich...
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In earlier agency reports: EPA Action: Agency, 24 domestic airlines reach drinking water agreement -- Also in this report (Oct. 20, 2005): No changes for air toxics standards for three industries; World Water Monitoring Day celebrated with Salem, Mass., youth; Interim groundwater cleanup set for Calif.'s Omega Chemical Superfund site; EPA awards $1.07M grant to the Guam Waterworks Authority; Two Ky. water utilities win 2005 Consumer Confidence Report award; Missouri River Communities Network to get $96K EPA grant; Port of Seattle reaches sampling settlement at Superfund site; Brownfields conference hosts mining towns, watersheds revitalization workshop; Hawai'i DOT to pay $1M for stormwater violations; Some hurricane relief firms ordered to stop delivering water...

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