EPA Action: Largest civil administrative penalty ever levied for DuPont PFOA violations

Also in this report: Agency changes water discharge rule for iron, steel plants; Chicago gets new water conservation group; Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy released; $50M committed to Ashtabula River cleanup; Guidebook details control of urban runoff pollution; Comments sought on proposed multi-sector permit for stormwater discharges; EPA, Army Corps, NJDOT launch Passaic River cleanup test project; EPA research ship docks in Baltimore; Agency amends oil spill rule...

In other news below:
-- Agency changes 'water bubble' rule for iron, steel plant effluent limit guidelines
-- Tools to help small drinking water utilities control arsenic released
-- Comment period open on Lac du Flambeau Band clean water application
-- Maine mill owner agrees to pay $12,000 to settle clean water violations
-- New water conservation organization to be headquartered in Chicago
-- Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy now available
-- Md. town, Pa. county honored for operation of wastewater facilities
-- At $50 million, Ashtabula River cleanup to be nation's largest Legacy Act project
-- Guidebook details control of urban runoff pollution
-- Comments sought on proposed multi-sector permit for stormwater discharges
-- Greek shipping company to pay $1 million fine in oil pollution case
-- States join Energy Star challenge to cut costs by 10% or more
-- EPA, Army Corps, NJDOT launch Passaic River dredging, decontamination test project
-- New environmental research ship docks in Baltimore
-- Agency amends oil spill rule
-- Utility sector leaders pursue energy efficiency as solution to rising energy costs
-- Mo. city ordered to clean up sewage spill, notify residents, develop plant safeguards

Largest civil administrative penalty ever levied for DuPont PFOA violations
WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 14, 2005 -- Granta Y. Nakayama, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator for the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Unit, was set to announce the largest civil administrative penalty the agency has ever obtained under any federal environmental statute -- against DuPont for violations related to the synthetic chemical Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), a key component in the manufacture of Teflon®, under provisions of both the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

A teleconference was to be held at 2:30 p.m. with reporters to discuss the enforcement action that included Nakayama and Susan Hazen, principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances.

For the full press release, click here.

Agency changes 'water bubble' rule for iron, steel plant effluent limit guidelines
WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 14, 2005 -- In a final rule, the EPA yesterday announced it's amending certain provisions of the regulations establishing effluent limitations guidelines, pretreatment standards and new source performance standards for the Iron and Steel Manufacturing Point Source Category. In 2002, EPA also promulgated amendments to these regulations. The earlier regulations authorized for direct discharges of pollutants the establishment of limitations applicable to the total mass of a pollutant discharged from more than one outfall -- a "water bubble."

The effect of such a water bubble was to allow a greater or lesser quantity of a particular pollutant to be discharged from any single outfall so long as the total quantity discharged from the combined outfalls did not exceed the allowed mass limitation. Among the changes adopted in the 2002 amendments was a provision that prohibited establishment of a water bubble for oil and grease effluent limitations. Based on consideration of new information and analysis, EPA is reinstating the provision authorizing alternative oil and grease limitations with certain restrictions. Today's final rule also corrects errors in the effective date of new source performance standards for direct and indirect discharges of pollutants.

This final rule is effective on Jan. 12, 2006. It involves discharges from existing and new facilities engaged in metallurgical cokemaking, sintering, ironmaking, steelmaking, direct reduced ironmaking, briquetting, and forging.

The EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID No. EPA-OW-2002-0027. All documents in the docket are listed on the http://www.regulations.gov website. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form from the Water Docket, EPA Docket Center, EPA West Building, Room B102, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20460. The telephone number for the Water Docket is 202-566-2426.

For further information, contact, Elwood H. Forsht, Engineering and Analysis Division, Office of Water, at 202-566-1025 or forsht.elwood@epa.gov.

For the full listing of this report in the Federal Register, click here

Among other recent EPA headlines:
Tools to help small drinking water utilities control arsenic released -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 14, 2005 -- The EPA has released a set of user-friendly multimedia products to help small drinking-water utilities meet revised regulations to control arsenic. The tools will provide owners and operators with information to guide them in making treatment decisions. The anchor product of this suite of tools is the Arsenic Virtual Trade Show, a learning portal for arsenic-treatment technology. The website features a database of vendors, a treatment "decision tree," and tips for evaluating and selecting treatment providers. To launch the Arsenic Virtual Trade Show, go to: www.arsenictradeshow.org...

EPA announces comment period on Lac du Flambeau Band clean water application -- CHICAGO, Dec. 13, 2005 -- The EPA's Region 5 Office has announced that comments from the state of Wisconsin are due Jan. 20 on the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's application to administer its own water quality standards program under the Clean Water Act...

Maine mill owner agrees to pay $12,000 to settle clean water violations -- BOSTON, Dec. 13, 2005 -- The owner of a commercial building in downtown Biddeford, Maine, agreed recently to pay $12,000, to settle EPA claims that it violated oil spill prevention requirements under the federal Clean Water Act. According to the settlement, MCMAQ LLC of Biddeford failed to respond to an information request, failed to prepare and put in place a spill prevention plan, and in October 2003 discharged oil from its Lincoln Mill facility into a canal that drains into the Saco River, in violation of federal clean water laws. MCMAQ is a carpentry contractor that owns a commercial office building known as Lincoln Mill. The settlement stems from an inspection of the facility in January 2004 by EPA's New England office. The inspection resulted from a referral of the matter by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection...

New water conservation organization to be headquartered in Chicago -- CHICAGO, Dec. 12, 2005 -- EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Executive Director of the California Urban Water Conservation Council Mary Ann Dickinson announced that the headquarters of a new water conservation organization will be in Chicago. The organization, the Alliance for Water Efficiency, will be a clearinghouse and advocate for water efficiency research, evaluation and education. The announcement follows a Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Conveners Meeting in Chicago on Dec. 3, where the conveners signed the "Great Lakes Declaration" and "Framework" documents affirming the commitment to the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration process and the development of a comprehensive strategy to further protect and restore the Great Lakes. The Framework document signed established eight issue area strategy teams, comprised of representatives from all sectors of the Great Lakes community, as the working bodies responsible for drafting action plans that will be used for the development of the Great Lakes Strategy. The Strategy Teams completed their draft documents in late June, and a draft strategy document was released for public review and comment at "Summit I" on July 7 in Duluth, Minn.. The 60-day public comment on the draft strategy ended Sept. 8. In addition, six public meetings were held in locations throughout the Great Lakes basin in order to obtain further public input. The Executive Committee and Issue Area Strategy Teams met on Oct. 6-7, 2005 in Rochester, N.Y., to review public comments and begin finalizing the strategy. For more information on EPA's water conservation program: www.epa.gov/owm/water-efficiency/...

Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy now available -- EPA outlines next federal actions -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 12, 2005 -- EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson joined other federal, state, local and tribal officials at an event today in Chicago to unveil the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy that will serve as a blueprint for prioritizing future actions to restore and enhance the lakes. The administrator also committed to specific actions among federal agencies to accelerate cleanup of contaminated sediment, return another 200,000 acres of wetlands to ecological health in equal partnership with the states, reduce the spread of invasive species and make beaches cleaner. The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 authorizes $270 million in funding over five years for cleanups of contaminated hot spots at 31 areas of concern in the United States. In 2004, the first year funds were available, Congress appropriated $9.9 million. In 2005, Congress appropriated $22.3 million, and $30 million will be available in 2006. President Bush requested $50 million in 2006...

Md. town, Pa. county honored for operation of wastewater facilities -- PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 12, 2005 -- The EPA presented the town of Denton, Md., and Kent County, Pa., each with a regional award for excellence in operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment facilities...

EPA, state and local partners will fund $50 million cleanup of Ashtabula River - nation's largest Legacy Act cleanup -- CHICAGO, Dec. 9, 2005 -- EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson today announced a federal-state-local agreement to fund and carry out a $50 million cleanup of contaminated sediment from the Ashtabula River in Ohio. This cleanup project, under the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002, is the largest to date in terms of scope and cost and Ohio's first. The Legacy Act is a special initiative to clean up 31 pollution hot spots on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes. The agency in cooperation with the Ashtabula City Port Authority will clean up 600,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment from a one-mile stretch of river, a tributary to Lake Erie. The cost of this fourth Legacy Act cleanup will be split evenly by EPA and the Ashtabula City Port Authority and its partners. The State of Ohio will provide $7 million as part of the Port Authority's cost share. The work, expected to be completed in 2009, will be done in close cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, the Corps will conduct navigation dredging downstream of the project area...

Guidebook details control of urban runoff pollution -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 8, 2005 -- The EPA has released a guidebook on managing runoff pollution caused by urban activities. National Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Urban Areas is an information source for states and cities to use in their pollution-management programs for protecting waterways. Nonpoint source pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many sources. They include contaminated runoff from paved surfaces, malfunctioning septic systems, pet wastes, over-applied fertilizers and pesticides, improperly disposed household chemicals, and motor-vehicle fluids...

Comments sought on proposed multi-sector permit for stormwater discharges -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 7, 2005 -- The EPA is seeking comments on a proposed reissue of the Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). The new permit contains several changes from its predecessor, including: 1) fast and easy electronic application, 2) a 30-day public notice for permit applications, 3) electronic submission of monitoring results, and 4) updated monitoring schedules. As part of the reissue process, EPA is publishing a notice of the proposal in the Federal Register and is accepting public comments for a 45-day period. During the comment period, EPA will hold one public meeting at the agency's Washington, D.C. headquarters on Dec. 20, 2005, to answer questions about the MSGP. The MSGP regulates stormwater discharges from 29 categories of industrial facilities in states, territories and other areas not authorized to implement EPA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System. For a copy of the proposed MSGP, visit the NPDES website at: www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/msgp. For supporting documents filed with the Federal Register notice, click here...

Greek shipping company to pay $1 million fine in oil pollution case -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 7, 2005 -- Karlog Shipping Company Ltd., of Piraeus, Greece, plead guilty on Nov. 16 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to obstructing justice by concealing the release of oil into the ocean from the Motor Vessel Friendship. Karlog Shipping was ordered to pay a $1 million fine, develop a fleet-wide court-monitored environmental management system and serve three years' probation. In addition, Panagiotis Kokkinos, the ship's chief engineer, and Athanasios Chalkias, the ship's fitter, have also each pleaded guilty in connection with their role in ordering crew members to make false statements to the Coast Guard regarding discharges of oil from the ship. Each man was sentenced on Oct. 6 to 30 days in prison and three years' probation...

States join Energy Star challenge to cut costs by 10% or more -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 6, 2005 -- More than half the states across the nation and the District of Columbia are joining with the EPA to address critical energy issues at the local level in conjunction with EPA's Energy Star Challenge. Communities across the United States are facing higher energy prices this winter. The Energy Star Challenge calls on businesses, governments, schools, and other agencies to improve their energy efficiency by 10% or more. EPA estimates that if each building owner met this challenge, by 2015 Americans would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 million metric tons (carbon equivalent) -- equivalent to the emissions from 15 million vehicles, while saving about $10 billion. Most facilities can save up to 30% on their energy bills each year through cost-effective energy efficiency improvements...

EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, NJDOT launch Passaic River dredging, decontamination test project -- NEW YORK & TRENTON, NJ, Dec. 6, 2005 -- The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) this week began an environmental dredging test project on the lower Passaic River in New Jersey. This week's removal of 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from a 1.5-acre area in the Passaic River near downtown Newark kicks off a two-part evaluation of environmental dredging and sediment decontamination technologies. The environmental dredging and decontamination pilot study is part of the Lower Passaic River Restoration Project, an ongoing joint effort conducted by NJDOT, EPA and the Corps with support from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...

New environmental research ship docks in Baltimore -- BALTIMORE, Dec. 5, 2005 -- EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh today hosted a tour of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's new Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold. The 224-foot ship, docked in Baltimore's Inner Harbor today, is a floating scientific laboratory that helps EPA monitor public health and environmental threats to our oceans, bays, and estuaries. The Bold is equipped to support EPA's ocean monitoring and educational tasks, carrying an array of sophisticated instruments to collect data on the state of our nation's oceans and coastal waters. The converted Navy vessel has onboard laboratories, an operating crew of 19 and can accommodate 20 scientists. EPA initiated surveys on the Bold in August. The OSV Bold is EPA's only coastal and ocean monitoring vessel. Beginning Dec. 6, the Bold will begin monitoring the impacts of dredge disposal from the Baltimore Channel. Today's tour coincided with the beginning of EPA's Emergency Preparedness, Prevention, and Hazmat Spills conference taking place at the Inner Harbor Hyatt and Sheraton Baltimore, Dec. 5-7...

EPA celebrates nation's cleaner environment on agency's 35th anniversary -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 2, 2005 -- The EPA celebrated its 35th anniversary today by citing the significant progress made in pollution reduction and protecting the health of all Americans. Since its creation by President Richard Nixon on Dec. 2, 1970, EPA has been instrumental in creating a cleaner, healthier environment. Between 1970 and 2004, total emissions of the six major air pollutants dropped by 54%. This is particularly impressive when noted that the gross domestic product increased 187%, energy consumption increased 47%, and U.S. population grew by 40% during the same time, proof that economic growth and environmental protection do go hand in hand. Through land restoration efforts, 600,000 acres of contaminated land now provide ecological, economic, and recreational benefits. Just last year alone, EPA and its partners took action to restore, enhance, and protect nearly 830,000 acres of wetlands. In the enforcement area, EPA since 1995 has received commitments from industry to spend more than $35 billion on environmental improvements, reducing more than 10 billion pounds of pollutants

Agency amends oil spill rule -- (12/2/05) Today, the EPA proposed modifications and compliance extensions for the oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule. EPA is proposing to streamline requirements for qualified facilities, qualified oil-filled operational equipment, and airport mobile refuelers. The proposal also offers a separate extension of the compliance date for farms and the removal of certain SPCC requirements for animal fats and vegetable oils. In order to allow facilities that may be affected by the final rule the necessary time to apply the provisions, EPA is also proposing to extend the compliance deadline by which all facilities must prepare or amend and implement their SPCC Plan to Oct. 31, 2007. The agency also wants to provide members of the regulated community with sufficient time to understand the full impact offered in today's proposal in light of the information contained in the forthcoming "SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors" document. Finally, the effects of the recent hurricanes on many industry sectors could have adversely impacted their ability to meet the upcoming compliance dates if no extension is provided. For more information, click here...

Utility sector leaders pursue energy efficiency as solution to rising energy costs -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 2, 2005 -- More than 50 organizations, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have developed a leadership group to launch an aggressive new national commitment to energy efficiency. The joint effort could substantially increase utility funding for energy efficiency and could save customers $200 to $300 billion on energy bills over the next 15 to 20 years. The leadership group is co-chaired by Diane Munns, member of the Iowa Utilities Board and president of the Natural Association Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Cinergy. In addition to the federal agencies, the group is made up of representatives from leading gas and electric utilities, state agencies, energy service providers, environmental/energy efficiency organizations, and energy consumers...

Mo. city ordered to clean up sewage spill, notify residents, develop plant safeguards -- ST. LOUIS, MO, Dec. 2, 2005 -- The EPA has issued an administrative compliance order to the City of Nixa, Mo., to address continued removal and other follow-up actions related to the discharge of wastewater sludge from the City's wastewater treatment plant earlier this week. On Nov. 28 and 29, about 400,000 gallons of wastewater sludge overflowed from one of the plant's basins. The City began clean-up activities after it discovered the release Nov. 29. The release impacted about two-thirds of a mile of an unnamed tributary of Finley Creek...

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In earlier agency reports: "EPA Action: Study pans agency's idea to ease waste reporting" -- Also in this report (Dec. 2, 2005): Agency urged to order Katrina cleanup; Agency proposes modification of industrial stormwater discharge rules; Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico watershed meeting convened in Memphis; Sustainability projects funded at 41 universities; Water quality standards for Grand Portage Indian Reservation approved; Surveyor pleads guilty in North Carolina wetlands case...

For the latest EPA news releases, click here.

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