EPA Action: America celebrates Wetlands Month
In other agency news: Ten final, seven proposed Superfund sites announced; U.S. Greenhouse Gas 2003 Inventory submitted to UN; S.C. developer pleads to wetlands violation; Man indicted in Idaho wastewater plant case; Minn. metal finisher sentenced in sewer line case; Iowa dairy farmer convicted of violating Clean Water Act; CSO agreement reached with Louisville, county; EPA web postings include Safewater annual report, lab certifying manual; USAF, Johnson & Johnson top EPA Green Power list...
In other agency developments below:
-- Ten final, seven proposed Superfund sitess announced;
-- U.S. Greenhouse Gas 2003 Inventory submitted to UN;
-- EPA to discuss air quality with Chinese officials at DC meeting;
-- S.C. development company pleads to wetlands violation;
-- Man indicted in Idaho wastewater plant case;
-- Minn. metal finisher sentenced in sewer line case;
-- Iowa dairy farmer convicted of violating Clean Water Act;
-- CSO agreement reached with Louisville, Jefferson County;
-- New EPA web postings include Safewater annual report, lab certifying manual;
-- USAF, Johnson & Johnson top EPA Green Power list...
America celebrates Wetlands Month
WASHINGTON, DC, April 29, 2005 -- During the month of May, the nation will celebrate the 15th annual American Wetlands Month.
This year's theme is "It Pays to Save Wetlands" and focuses on the economic benefits that wetlands provide. In addition to replenishing and cleaning water supplies and reducing flood risks, wetlands are important spawning grounds for the fishing industry, essential habitat for many wildlife species and provide places for recreational activities like birding, canoeing and hunting.
Throughout the month, the Environmental Protection Agency will join with elected officials, local and state environmental agencies, corporate officers, representatives from environmental groups, and individual citizens at local wetlands events across the country. Events will educate, involve and engage Americans who want to better understand the value of one of Earth's most important ecosystems. EPA's wetlands goals are to increase the quantity and quality of wetlands nationwide.
To kick-off the month's events, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water Benjamin Grumbles will speak at Wetlands Awareness Day at Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, Va., on May 1.
Following are other Agency developments that may interest you:
Ten final, seven proposed Superfund sites announced
WASHINGTON, DC, April 27, 2005 -- A battery recycling plant, a sheet-metal manufacturer, a zinc smelter and a gold mine are among 10 new sites just added to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. The sites were selected because of their degree of risk to human health and to sensitive environments. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also proposed that an additional seven sites be added to the list. Contaminants found include cadmium, tetrachloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride, mercury, dioxins, zinc, lead and arsenic, among others.
The just-added "final" sites bring the total to 1,245 on the NPL. Altogether, there are 1,309 final and proposed sites on the list. Sixty-four sites have been proposed and are awaiting final agency action: 58 in the general Superfund section and 6 in the federal facilities section.
Once a site is suggested for inclusion on the NPL, EPA conducts a preliminary assessment to distinguish, based on readily available information, between sites that pose little or no threat to human health and the environment and sites that may require further investigation. The assessment also identifies sites requiring possible emergency action.
When the preliminary assessment is complete, if further investigation is necessary, EPA conducts a site inspection to determine what hazardous substances are present, whether these substances are being released to the environment and if they have reached nearby targets.
Sites may be placed on the NPL through various mechanisms:
-- Numeric ranking established by EPA's Hazard Ranking System.
-- Designation by states or territories of one top-priority site regardless of score.
Meeting all three following requirements:
-- The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the U.S. Public Health Service has issued a health advisory that recommends removing people from the site;
-- EPA determines the site poses a significant threat to public health; and
-- EPA anticipates it will be more cost-effective to use its remedial authority (available only at NPL sites) than to use its emergency removal authority to respond to the site.
EPA tries to identify and locate the parties potentially responsible for such contamination. Such parties agree, on average, to initiate or pay for 70 percent of cleanups. When no parties can be located, EPA conducts in-depth inspections to determine the full extent of the contamination before starting significant construction at the site. These inspections may take several years due to the nature of sampling and testing.
For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for these final and proposed sites, go to: www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm. A complete list of the newly added sites is at: http://punix1.sradev.com/oerrpage/web/superfund/news/npl_042705.htm.
U.S. Greenhouse Gas 2003 Inventory Submitted to UN
EPA has submitted the "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2003" to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The major finding in this year's report is that overall emissions increased by 0.6 percent from 2002 to 2003, though emission levels in 2003 still remained below 2000 emission levels. This increase was due primarily to moderate economic growth in 2003, which increased demand for electricity and fossil fuels. The price of natural gas escalated dramatically in 2003, causing some electric power producers to switch to coal, which led to a higher carbon intensity in the fuels used to produce electricity. Colder winter conditions brought on more demand for heating fuels, primarily in the residential sector. Overall, emissions have grown by 13 percent from 1990 to 2003, while the U.S. economy has grown by 46 percent over the same period.
Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases were 6,900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2003. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. Fossil fuel combustion was the largest source of emissions, accounting for 80 percent of the total.
The "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2003" is prepared annually by the EPA, in collaboration with experts from a dozen other federal agencies, and is one of the most comprehensive analyses of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
The report is available online at: www.epa.gov/globalwarming/publications/emissions.
EPA to Discuss Air Quality with Chinese Officials at April 27-28 Meeting in D.C.
EPA will host environmental officials from China on April 27 and 28 at a meeting of an EPA-China working group on clean air and energy. The officials will discuss how the EPA can assist China in addressing its air pollution problems.
This is the second meeting of the working group, which was established in December 2003 to promote cooperation between EPA and China's State Environmental Protection Administration on air quality and clean energy programs. They include: programs aimed at improving fuel quality; assistance in understanding and managing urban and regional air quality; market-based emissions trading programs to help reduce pollution from power plants; and energy efficiency labeling similar to EPA's Energy Star program.
During their stay in the United States, the delegation from China also will meet with air staff at EPA's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., and with Regional office officials in New York City and San Francisco.
Chinese and EPA officials will be available to answer media questions at a public forum at 2 p.m. Thursday following the meeting at the Woodrow Wilson International Center (Reagan Building) 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.
For more information on joint environmental efforts between the U.S. and Asian nations, visit: www.epa.gov/international/regions/Asia/.
Enforcement Wrap-up for the Week of April 27, 2005
South Carolina Development Company and Individual Plead to Wetlands Violation: Crossings Development Company, LLC, which owns a 429-acre tract in Richland County, S.C., and Matthew D. Congdon of Columbia, S.C., each pleaded guilty on April 8 in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina in Columbia to violating the Clean Water Act by filling wetlands without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Despite being advised by two consultants that wetlands existed on the 429-acre tract, the defendants began work in the wetlands without a permit in June 2003. The result was that approximately 45 acres of wetlands were filled or otherwise adversely affected. Wetlands are protected because they not only provide habitat for plants and animals in the watershed, but they absorb nutrients, sediment, and other pollutants before they reach rivers, lakes, and other water bodies. Crossings Development agreed to pay a fine of $1,100,000. Congdon faces a maximum prison sentence of not more than one year and/or a potential fine of not less than $2,500 nor more than $25,000 per day of violation, when sentenced. Final sentences will be determined by the court. The case was investigated by the Columbia, S.C., Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Columbia, S.C.
Man Indicted in Idaho Wastewater Treatment Plant Case: Raymond K. Shakleford of Bozeman, Mont., the Idaho representative for Quality Water Systems Inc., also of Bozeman, was indicted on April 13 in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho on multiple counts of mail fraud in connection with false representations that he allegedly made to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality in support of applying for permits to construct wastewater treatment systems. Quality Water Systems designs, sells and operates Sequencing Batch Reactor, (SBR), wastewater treatment systems. These systems are specifically designed for communities that cannot be hooked up to public sewers. One of these SBR systems was built on Eagle Island which is located in the middle of the Boise River. Shakleford allegedly used falsified data from this system to request applications for 12 additional systems to be built in Idaho. Some areas of Idaho have a concern regarding nitrate concentration in their groundwater and building wastewater treatment systems based on false data could lead to increased nitrate concentrations in groundwater. The case was investigated by the Boise Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Boise.
Minnesota Metal Finisher Sentenced in Sewer Line Case: Kenneth Heroux, owner of Hardcoat Inc., in St. Louis Park, Minn., was sentenced to pay a $20,000 fine, serve three years' probation and perform 225 hours of community service on April 14 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He was convicted in November 2004 on two counts of making false statements to officials from the U.S. EPA and Hennepin County. The defendant falsely told state and federal investigators that a sewer pipe used to discharge pre-treated industrial wastes from the Hardcoat facility did not show any problems with leakage. In reality, the pipe had several breaks through which pre-treated industrial wastes could have leaked. The defendant replaced the pipe, but he knowingly made a false statement to officials about the fact that the pipe had been compromised. Sewage pipes that have breaks create a potential source for groundwater pollution. The case was investigated by the Minneapolis Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis.
Iowa Dairy Farmer Convicted of Violating Clean Water Act: Carl Simon, owner and operator of Simon Dairy in Farley, Ia., was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison, pay a $5,000 administrative penalty that had been assessed earlier by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and serve one year of supervised release on April 6 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids as a result of his conviction on four counts of violating the Clean Water Act. The charges arose from the defendant's illegal dumping of cow manure and waste milk into Hogan's Branch, a tributary of the Mississippi River. The illegal discharges occurred between May of 2003 and January of 2004. Simon illegally disposed of the cow manure by using two foot trenches dug from his dairy manure lagoon to a steep embankment overlooking Hogan's Branch. He illegally discharged the waste milk into Hogan's Branch by using a four-inch PVC pipe. Simon has an extensive enforcement history with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and was previously placed under an administrative order and fined $5,000 for illegal discharges into the Branch. He refused to pay the fine or make any of the changes in his disposal practices required by the administrative order. Dumping cow manure and waste milk into surface waters can make the waters unfit for human use and can harm fish and wildlife. The case was investigated by the Iowa attorney general's office, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the IDNR and the St. Louis Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Cedar Rapids, Ia.
Clean Water Act Agreement Announced With Louisville and Jefferson County
WASHINGTON, DC, April 25, 2005 -- The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Commonwealth of Kentucky's Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC) jointly announced today a comprehensive Clean Water Act settlement with the Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD). The settlement ensures that MSD will make extensive improvements to its sewer systems to eliminate unauthorized discharges of untreated sewage and to address problems of overflows from sewers that carry a combination of untreated sewage and storm water at a cost likely to exceed $500 million. Throughout the year, MSD's sewer systems are overwhelmed by rainfall resulting in unlawful discharges of untreated sewage and overflows of combined sewage into the Ohio River and its tributaries totaling billions of gallons each year.
The Commonwealth filed a civil suit against MSD in state court in February, 2004 and has been negotiating since that time with MSD to reach an agreement. A consent decree, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Louisville, represents the combined efforts of both the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the United States, which have entered into this settlement as plaintiff and intervening plaintiff, respectively.
The consent decree will require MSD to: propose and implement specific corrective action plans to bring overflows from its combined sewers that carry a combination of both untreated sewage and storm water into compliance with water quality standards; propose and implement specific corrective action plans to eliminate unauthorized discharges from its sanitary sewers that carry just untreated sewage (the worst discharges, representing approximately 75 percent of the total, must be addressed by no later than 2013); improve its management, operation and maintenance programs to prevent future overflows; and respond to overflows when they occur.
"This settlement represents a monumental step forward in improving water quality in the Commonwealth of Kentucky," Governor Ernie Fletcher said. "These issues have never been addressed in a meaningful way in Kentucky, and the cooperation of federal, state and local entities was key to moving forward expeditiously. It's a win win win."
"Old sewage systems across our nation allow significant water pollution to occur," said Thomas V. Skinner, EPA's Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "The Louisville settlement is a great example of the progress that can be made when federal, state and local governments work together. Collaboration like this can be a model for other cities to achieve cleaner water, faster."
"This joint enforcement action represents tremendous team work between federal and state partners that will bring long-term, significant environmental improvements to the Louisville area and the Ohio River system," said Kelly Johnson, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This case is another outstanding example of how federal and state agencies can work together to achieve compliance with our environmental regulations."
MSD was created to provide sanitary sewer and storm water drainage service for residential, commercial, and industrial entities throughout the City of Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky. MSD is responsible for the operation and maintenance of six major regional wastewater treatment facilities, 21 minor treatment plants, and approximately 3,000 miles of sewer lines. Approximately 23 percent of these sewer lines are served by a combined system of single pipes that carry both untreated sewage and storm water to the Morris Forman Waste Water Treatment Plant. The remaining 77 percent of MSD's system carries untreated sewage separate from storm water. The capacity of MSD's sewer systems can be overwhelmed after rainfall, resulting in unauthorized discharges averaging 175 million gallons of untreated sewage from the separated system annually. In 2004 alone, however, MSD's separated system experienced over 500 million gallons of unauthorized discharges of untreated sewage. In addition, rainfall events cause combined sewer overflows (or CSOs) of untreated sewage and storm water totaling an average of 4.5 billion gallons annually. These unauthorized discharges and CSOs have affected water quality in the Ohio River and its tributaries, including Beargrass Creek.
The consent decree also requires MSD to pay a civil penalty of $1 million to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and, under Commonwealth supervision, perform $2.25 million in Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs). The purposes of the SEPs are to provide public health screenings for residents of neighborhoods adjacent to the industrialized areas of the western portion of Louisville; perform, or provide funding for groups that will perform, efforts to raise environmental awareness and stewardship for the local and regional community; and convert and reclaim the former Lee's Lane Landfill into an area for public use.
"This settlement reflects our commitment to work with state and local agencies to resolve legal disputes cooperatively and in the best interests of the public," commented Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. "We are pleased that EPA and the Commonwealth of Kentucky are collaborating as plaintiffs in this settlement, as it will go a long way toward improving the health of the Ohio River and its tributaries in the Louisville area."
"Protecting the Commonwealth's waters is one of the top priorities of our Cabinet," added Kentucky EPPC secretary LaJuana Wilcher. "We plan to continue working with other communities on wet weather issues such as CSOs and storm water. That's vital to improving our water quality."
In the past, the United States has reached similar agreements with numerous municipal entities across the country including Mobile; Jefferson County (Birmingham), Alabama; Atlanta; Knoxville; Miami; New Orleans; Toledo; Hamilton County (Cincinnati), Ohio; Baltimore; and Los Angeles.
The proposed consent decree with MSD is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval before becoming effective.
For more information, go to: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/louisville.html.
President Bush, EPA Honor Young Environmentalists from 10 States at White House
WASHINGTON, DC, April 21, 2005 -- President George W. Bush and Steve Johnson, EPA Acting Administrator, today welcomed students from across the nation to the White House to honor their achievements in environmental protection. The 2004 President's Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA) were presented to 30 students at a ceremony in the East Room at the White House.
The winners come from Middletown, R.I.; Staten Island, N.Y.; Saint Paul, Va.; Cairo, Ga.; Chesterland, Ohio; Del City, Okla.; Lincoln, Neb.; Hyrum, Utah; Chino Hills, Calif.; and Salem, Ore.
"I am impressed by the environmental commitment these young people have shown," stated Acting Administrator Johnson. "Their projects demonstrate the enthusiasm for improving our environment that I see in youth across the country."
PEYA has been presented annually since 1971 to honor students in kindergarten through twelfth grade who develop projects that help protect local environments and promote local environmental awareness in their communities.
Each student receiving an award developed an innovative project that promotes awareness and encourages people of all ages to protect their environment through community involvement.
Examples of projects getting awards include: building nesting boxes on Staten Island; monitoring water quality in a local stream and educating the community to protect it; studying groundwater and organizing community events to teach others about its importance; and restoring habitat for the endangered Fenders Blue Butterfly.
Winners were selected from among applicants to EPA's 10 regional offices. Regional EPA panels judge projects on environmental need, accomplishment of goals, long-term environmental benefits and positive impact on local communities. The panels also consider project design, coordination, implementation, innovation and soundness of approach.
More information on the PEYA Program, as well as a listing of the 2004 award winners and their project descriptions, is available at: www.epa.gov/enviroed/peya2004.html#top.
New EPA website postings include Safewater annual report, certifying lab manual
WASHINGTON, DC, April 20, 2005 -- Recent additions to the EPA website include the following:
-- "FY2004 Safe Drinking Water Hotline Annual Report" at www.epa.gov/safewater/hotline/reports.html#annual
-- "Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water" at
U.S. Air Force, Johnson & Johnson Top EPA Green Power List
WASHINGTON, DC, April 19, 2005 -- The top 25 green power purchasers are buying enough energy to run more than 150,000 homes a year, according to EPA. The top-25 list includes a diverse set of companies and organizations that have voluntarily bought the most renewable energy and are part of EPA's Green Power Partnership. Together, the top 25 are purchasing more than 1.6 million MWh (megawatt hours) of green power annually.
Green power is electricity from environmentally-preferable renewable resources such as solar, wind, or geothermal power. Green power currently accounts for about two percent of America's electricity supply, but voluntary purchasing of renewable energy is accelerating renewable energy development.
The U.S. Air Force leads the green power list, purchasing more than 321,000 MWh annually for Air Force bases across the country. Second on the list, Johnson & Johnson, bought more than 241,000 MWh of renewable energy in 2004.
EPA and the World Bank rank third and fourth on the list.
The complete list of Top 25 EPA Green Power Partners is as follows, listed in order of purchase size:
1. U.S. Air Force
2. Johnson & Johnson
3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
4. The World Bank
5. U.S. General Services Administration / Region 2
6. Whole Foods Market
7. City of San Diego, Calif.
8. New Jersey Consolidated Energy Savings Program
9. WhiteWave Foods
10. Austin (Texas) Independent School District
12. University of Pennsylvania
13. Montgomery County, Md.
14. Advanced Micro Devices / Austin, Texas Facilities
15. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
16. FedEx Kinko's
17. East Bay Municipal Utility District/Main Wastewater Plant
18. BMW Manufacturing Co. / Greer, S.C. Facilities
19. City of Santa Monica, Calif.
20. U.S. Navy / Region South
21. Harvard University
22. Round Rock (Texas) Independent School District
23. City of Portland, Ore.
24. Pennsylvania State University
25. U.S. Department of Energy/Forrestal & Germantown Facilities
The Green Power Partnership is an EPA voluntary program working to standardize green power procurement as part of best practice environmental management. Partners in the program pledge to switch to green power for a portion of their electricity needs in return for EPA technical assistance and recognition. The Green Power Partnership currently includes more than 550 Partners, including Fortune 500 companies, states, federal agencies, trade associations and universities.
EPA updates the list of green power purchasers quarterly. For more information on green power, visit: www.epa.gov/greenpower. For more information on EPA's top-25 list, visit: www.epa.gov/greenpower/partners/top25.htm.
For earlier EPA Action reports, see:
* "EPA Action: Agency to take part in White House cooperative conservation conference" -- Also in this report (April 15, 2005): 60 health care facilities honored for environmental innovation; $3.2M in small business awards available for new environmental technologies; 15 groups, individuals to be honored for leadership in protecting children; FY2005 federal drinking water funds available; EPA cites 3M, Motorola, Pfizer, others, for environmental progress; NDWAC's Water Security Working Group meeting April 18-20; Evergreen to pay $25M, largest-ever penalty for concealing vessel pollution...
* "EPA Action: Agency responds to negative report on BioWatch program" -- Also in this report (April 1, 2005): 1) $10M provided for beach water quality monitoring; 2) Five industries may get pollution permit exemptions; 3) Shell Oil unit to pay $10M fine; 4) Animal feeding air quality agreement signup extended; 5) First-ever rule to reduce mercury emissions from power plants released; 6) $2.6M available in small business grants for new environmental technologies; 7) Proposal made to improve dioxin, dioxin-like compounds reporting; 8) Eight new water Security Product Guides posted online...
* "EPA Action: Agency tightens rules for lead in drinking water " -- Also in this report (March 8, 2005): 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...