EPA Action: Agency responds to negative report on BioWatch program

In other news, 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...

In other news below, see:
-- EPA Empowering Communities to Reduce Risks from Toxic Exposure
-- Second Man Sentenced in Michigan Waste Treatment Facility Case
-- President of Former Pennsylvania Laboratory Sentenced for Mail Fraud;
-- Man Who Served Year in Prison for Environmental Fraud Conviction Indicted Again
-- EPA Provides $10 Million to Improve Beach Water Quality Monitoring;
-- Agency Proposes to Exempt Five Small Industries from Pollution Permit Requirements;
-- Oregon Man Sentenced in Illegal Paint Disposal Case;
-- Idaho Company Charged with Violating Clean Water Act;
-- Shell Oil Unit Guilty of Negligent Endangerment, to Pay $10M Fine;
-- Animal Feeding Operation Air Quality Agreement Comment and Signup Period Extended;
-- San Diego Printed Circuit Board Company and Officers Plead to Illegal Discharge into Sewers;
-- Michigan Paint Manufacturer Faces Prison for Illegal Waste Storage;
-- EPA Announces First-Ever Rule to Reduce Mercury Emissions from Power Plants;
-- $2.6 Million in Small Business Grants for New Environmental Technologies;
-- Proposal to Improve Dioxin and Dioxin-Like Compounds Reporting;
-- Laboratory Owner Who Obstructed EPA Case Sentenced to 46 Months Imprisonment on Second Lab Fraud Conviction;
-- Three Individuals and Two Corporations Found Guilty in Mississippi Wetlands Case;
-- Eight New Water Security Product Guides Posted to EPA Website...

Agency responds to negative report on BioWatch program
WASHINGTON, DC, April 1, 2005 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the following statement March 25 with respect to a recent EPA Inspector General report on its BioWatch program that questioned preparedness against a potential bioterrorism attack [see: "EPA not ready for bioterror, inspector general warns"].

Clearly much of the information related to the BioWatch program is sensitive and a detailed discussion of specifics of the system would be inappropriate for national security reasons. However, this agency can assure American citizens that EPA has acted swiftly and soundly in the areas of concern raised by the Inspector General.

"Since the establishment of the initial BioWatch network, the U.S. Government continues to make substantial improvements to the program -- from the quantity of monitors to security at monitoring sites to quality assurance activities. These improvements effectively resolve the concerns raised by EPA's Inspector General.

"In fact, as of last month, EPA has worked with every BioWatch city to ensure that the monitoring equipment at every site is functioning properly, is secure, and is able to effectively detect biological agents in the event they were released.

"And we know the program is working -- since its inception, the BioWatch team, with the support of state and local public health officials, has sited and continues to site hundreds of monitors across the nation that have successfully yielded tens of thousands of samples.

"EPA worked with DHS and state and local agencies to deploy monitors on an extremely tight schedule because of rising security concerns. EPA is meeting the requirements of the Department of Homeland Security.

"BioWatch is a 'first of its kind' that brings together the best expertise the nation has to offer. This includes teams of specialists from DHS, EPA, CDC, Los Alamos National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, and the Department of Defense that are experts in medicine, epidemiology, public health management, forensic sciences, biological aerosol detection and modeling.

"The BioWatch network is an important tool for detecting a biological attack. It is an early-warning system designed to detect the release of biological agents in the air so that there is time for federal, state, and local officials to deliver the most effective response."

The March 23 EPA Inspector General report, "EPA Needs to Fulfill Its Designated Responsibilities to Ensure Effective BioWatch Program," on this subject -- as well as other EPA-related reports -- can be found at: www.epa.gov/oigearth/

Following are additional agency developments which may interest you:

EPA Empowering Communities to Reduce Risks from Toxic Exposure
The EPA is launching a new grant program to help communities understand and reduce the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals. The Community Action for a Renewed Environment program is a community-based, community-driven, multi-media demonstration program. Through the Community Action for a Renewed Environment program, EPA is offering financial and technical assistance to help communities understand and reduce risks caused by toxics from multiple sources. The program will award $1.65 million in grant money through two levels of funding. Under Level I, communities will receive approximately $75,000 to establish collaborative partnerships and set priorities for reducing toxic risks in their local areas. Level II offers approximately $300,000 to communities that already have a broad-based collaborative partnership, have identified priorities, and are ready to implement risk reduction strategies. A total of 10 projects will be funded nationally in FYO5. Applications are due no later than May 20, 2005. For more information about the program or to obtain an application, visit our Web site at: www.epa.gov/care.

Enforcement Wrap-up for Week of April 1, 2005
Second Man Sentenced in Michigan Waste Treatment Facility Case: Gazi George, former vice president of City Environmental Inc., was sentenced on March 16 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, to serve 27 months in prison, pay a $60,000 fine and serve three years under court supervision after release. George had earlier pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. A codefendant, former Plant Manager Donald Roeser, was sentenced in December 2004 to serve 12 months in prison and pay a $60,000 fine. U.S. Liquids, a Texas company that formerly owned City Environmental, paid a $5.5 million fine in 2002. Between 1997 and 1999, the defendants discharged untreated and insufficiently treated waste into the Detroit sanitary sewer system, installed an illegal bypass pipe, and transported hazardous waste to a landfill not licensed to receive hazardous waste. Discharging untreated wastes into sewer systems can create a public health hazard and damage sewage treatment equipment. Improperly disposing of hazardous wastes in landfills can contaminate groundwater and have significant public health implications. The case was investigated by the Detroit Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit.

President of Former Pennsylvania Laboratory Sentenced for Mail Fraud: Edward V. Kellogg, president, quality control officer, and owner of the former Johnson Laboratories Inc., in New Cumberland, Pa., was sentenced to serve 16 months in prison on March 15 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Allentown, Pa., for his conviction on 34 counts of mail fraud. The defendant will also pay $7,181 in restitution to his victims and pay a $3,400 special assessment. He will serve 36 months under court supervision and provide 80 hours of community service after he is released from prison. From May 1998 through July 2000, Kellogg engaged in a scheme to defraud customers of Johnson Laboratories by billing them for false environmental test reports. Johnson Laboratories was in the business of providing analytical testing of water and wastewater samples. Environmental test results for Volatile Organic Chemicals were falsely prepared, and Kellogg billed customers for the fraudulent test results. Submitting false laboratory results can prevent pollution control programs from being effective. The case was investigated by the Philadelphia Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the EPA Office of Inspector General, the Environmental Crimes Section of the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Laboratories. EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center provided forensic investigative support. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Man Who Served Year in Prison for Environmental Fraud Conviction Indicted Again: Michael Klusaritz of Whitehall, Pa., was charged with two counts of false statements and one count of mail fraud on March 16 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The charges state that the defendant allegedly falsified underground storage tank documents between 2001 and 2003. In 1997, the defendant was sentenced to one year in prison, pay $40,000 in restitution, and serve three years probation for his involvement in a laboratory fraud case involving Hess Laboratories in East Stroudsburg, Pa. Falsification of underground storage tank closure reports can prevent regulators from being aware of potential groundwater contamination. The case was investigated by the Philadelphia Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the EPA Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia.

EPA Provides $10 Million to Improve Beach Water Quality Monitoring
WASHINGTON, March 24, 2005 -- The EPA announced availability of an additional $10 million in grants to eligible states, territories, and tribes to monitor beach water quality, bringing the five-year total to nearly $42 million. As a critical part of the Administration's Clean Beaches Plan, this is the fifth year that grants are being made available since the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act passed in October 2000.

"Americans want clean and healthy beaches," said EPA's Assistant Administrator for Water Ben Grumbles. "These funds will help improve water monitoring and public information programs to alert beachgoers about the health of their beaches."

The grants are designed to support water monitoring, which helps to ensure that the public receives information on how to protect their health when visiting beaches. Beach water monitoring results are used to issue warnings and closures if bacteria levels are at unsafe levels and to help identify actions needed to reduce pollution.

In addition, as part of the Clean Beaches Plan, EPA is developing new technology that will provide faster test results, which will enable local health agencies to more quickly determine if a beach should be open for swimming.

Additional information about the beach program, specific grant information and a table listing eligible states, territories and the distribution of 2005 funds are available at: www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches and www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/grants/fy05fs.htm.

Agency Seeks to Maintain Pollution Permit Rules for Five Small Industries
On March 23, 2005, the EPA proposed a rule that would permanently exempt small facilities in five industrial categories from the requirement to obtain federal operating permits. The proposal would exempt the following "area sources" of toxic air pollution: dry cleaners; halogenated solvent degreasers; chrome electroplaters; ethylene oxide sterilizers; and secondary aluminum smelters. An "area source" emits less than 10 tons a year of a single toxic air pollutant, or fewer than 25 tons of a combination of pollutants. Only facilities that are "area sources" would receive the exemption; permits still would be required for major sources of air toxics in these industry categories.

Today's proposal would not:
1. Excuse these facilities from complying with any air emissions control requirements that apply to them such as new source performance standards or maximum achievable control technology or MACT standards;
2. Exempt secondary lead smelters that are area sources from the requirement to obtain operating permits, unless EPA receives information that is adequate to support exempting them. If EPA does receive that information, the Agency could exempt "area source" smelters in the final rule; and
3. Prohibit states from issuing federal operating permits to these sources once we have exempted them from the national permitting program. States may continue to issue other types of air permits for such sources, if they so choose.

In order to exempt a category of "area sources" from operating permitting requirements, the Clean Air Act requires that EPA determine that complying with the requirements is impracticable, infeasible, or unnecessarily burdensome for the affected facilities. In most states, these sources will be required to obtain operating permits by Dec. 9, 2005 unless EPA issues the permanent exemption. EPA had deferred the operating permit requirements for these sources in previous rules; however, those deferrals expired in December 2004, generally leaving facilities with one year to submit permit applications.

Under the Title V operating permit programs, every industrial facility that is a major source of toxic air pollution must apply for an operating permit. Smaller "area sources" of pollution also must obtain operating permits unless EPA specifically exempts them from this requirement. EPA will accept comment on this proposal for 60 days following Federal Register publication of the proposed rule.

For more information and copy of this proposed rule, go to: www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/t5pfpr.html.

Enforcement Wrap-up for Week of March 24, 2005
Oregon Man Sentenced in Illegal Paint Disposal Case: Robert Patrick Mominee, of Salem, Ore., former technical director of Ponderosa Paint, in Boise, Idaho, was sentenced on March 10, in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho in Boise for illegally transporting hazardous waste in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The defendant was ordered to serve five months in prison followed by five months of home detention. Mominee will also pay a $1,000 fine and serve 36 months supervised release. In 2000, Mominee and his father-in- law Paul Woods had agreed with Ponderosa's owner Dennis Ellis to remove 4,500 gallons of out-of-date, mis-tinted and off- specification paint materials from Ponderosa Paint. Ellis was in the process of selling his company and wanted to avoid paying approximately $150,000 to dispose of the wastes. Therefore, he offered Mominee and Woods $1 per gallon to get rid of the wastes. The wastes were transported to Woods' residence in Wilder, Idaho, where the defendants had begun to burn them in a pit when their scheme was discovered. The illegal burning of waste paint materials in a pit can release hazardous chemicals into the air and may also contaminate groundwater. The case was investigated by the Boise Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General, the Idaho State Police, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality with assistance from EPA's Idaho Operations Office and EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Boise.

Idaho Company Charged with Violating Clean Water Act: Lynn Plasma Inc., of Garden City, Idaho, was charged on March 3 in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho in Boise with violating the Clean Water Act. Lynn Plasma is in the business of applying plasma coatings to a variety of materials. During the summer of 2002, and again in November of 2002, it is alleged that the defendant discharged industrial wastewater onto its parking lot. In November it is further alleged that the wastewater contained silicone. The wastewater allegedly ran into a storm drain that empties directly into the Boise River, which is 200 yards from the drain. Lynn Plasma did not have a permit to discharge industrial wastewater into the storm drain and was warned by regulators in the summer of 2002 that such a permit was necessary. Discharging industrial wastewater into storm drains that connect to rivers can harm fish and wildlife and can make surface waters unusable for drinking water and recreational purposes. The case was investigated by the Boise Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI. Assistance was provided by the Idaho State Police, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and the Garden City Public Works Department. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Boise.

Federal Court Sentences Motiva Enterprises to $10 Million Criminal Fine

Shell Oil Unit Pleads Guilty to Negligent Endangerment and Clean Water Act Violations...

WASHINGTON, DC, March 17, 2005 -- Motiva Enterprises LLC pleaded guilty to negligently endangering workers at its former refinery in Delaware City, Delaware, discharging pollutants into the Delaware River and negligently releasing sulfuric acid into the air, both in violation of the Clean Air Act. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Chief U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson immediately sentenced Motiva to pay a fine of $10 million and to serve a three-year term of probation.

Motiva, an oil refining and retail business owned by Shell Oil Company and Saudi Refining, Inc., refines and markets gasoline to approximately 9,400 Shell-branded and Texaco-branded gasoline stations. Together with Shell Oil Company, Motiva ranks as a leading refiner in the United States. They collectively account for about 10% of the total U.S. refining capacity and a market-leading 13% share of U.S. gasoline sales.

On July 17, 2001, Tank 393, a 415,000 gallon capacity tank at Motiva's Delaware City Refinery, exploded while containing spent sulfuric acid, which is a mixture of sulfuric acid, water, and hydrocarbons. The explosion killed one worker, Jeffrey Davis, and injured numerous others. Spent sulfuric acid from the tank farm spilled into the Delaware River, resulting in thousands of dead fish and crabs.

"Violations of our nation's environmental and worker safety laws often go hand in hand, and can exact a terrible human price," said Thomas L. Sansonetti, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This prosecution puts those who would violate those laws on notice that the people of the United States expect them to mend their ways and act now to care for the environment and their employees."

"Motiva's guilty plea is evidence of our commitment to prosecuting violators who damage the environment, and particularly to prosecuting violators who put their workers in harm's way at the same time. This dangerous manner of 'doing business' is a crime and will not be tolerated," said Thomas V. Skinner, EPA acting assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Following the explosion, EPA criminal investigators gathered evidence which indicated that Tank 393 had a long history of problems. Among other things, Tank 393 had numerous localized corrosion and leaks during the previous eight years, including six leaks from June 1998 to May 2001. Company inspectors repeatedly recommended that Tank 393 should be taken out of service as soon as possible for an internal inspection, but no internal inspection was conducted after 1994. Motiva also switched Tank 393 from storing fresh sulfuric acid to spent sulfuric acid without conducting a full engineering review (known as a management of change review) that would have required technical experts to analyze the changes to account for the flammable hydrocarbons in spent sulfuric acid.

Shortly before the explosion, according to the statement of facts, Motiva had several warnings from its own employees about Tank 393's problems. Nevertheless, workers were sent to acid tank farm to repair the catwalk connecting the tanks on July 17, 2001, and a hot works permit was issued for the job. During the afternoon of that day, flammable vapors from Tank 393 reached a heat source, and the resulting explosion caused the Tank 393 to separate from its foundation pad. Mr. Davis's body was never recovered. Additionally, approximately 99,000 gallons of sulfuric acid drained into the Delaware River for days after the explosion.

"The $10 million fine is the largest criminal environmental fine in Delaware history," said Richard G. Andrews, first assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware. "It is an appropriate fine, given the gravity of Motiva's misconduct."

Animal Feeding Operation Air Quality Agreement Comment Period Extended
WASHINGTON, DC, March 16, 2005 -- To provide more time for public comment and for stakeholders to make informed decisions about participation, the comment period will be reopened on EPA's air quality compliance agreement to address emissions from certain animal feeding operations, also known as AFOs. This agreement is part of the Agency's ongoing effort to minimize air emissions from such operations and to ensure that they comply with the Clean Air Act and other laws. EPA will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing a reopening of the comment period from April 1 to May 2, 2005. The deadline for AFOs to sign the agreement was May 1, 2005, but will be extended until July 1, 2005. For more information about the agreement and how to submit comments, go to: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/agreements/caa/cafo-agr-0501.html.

Enforcement Wrap-up for Week of March 16, 2005
San Diego Printed Circuit Board Company and Officers Plead to Illegal Discharge into Sewers: Moore Printed Circuits (MPC) of San Diego, Calif., and Ghanshyambhai Patel of Chicago, Ill., one of MPC's owners, pled guilty on Feb. 18 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego. MPC pleaded to illegal discharges in violation of the Clean Water Act and Patel pleaded to conspiracy. Paramanand Sheth, president of MPC, previously pleaded guilty in the same case. In 2003, pollution control equipment at MPC was broken and the owners decided that it would be too expensive to fix the problem. Instead, workers at the plant tampered with monitoring equipment and manipulated the flow of wastewater when inspectors visited to make it appear as if the facility was complying with its NPDES discharge permit. This prevented the inspectors from knowing that the company was discharging more than its allowed limit of copper into public sewers. San Diego's Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant is not designed to eliminate copper from wastewater. Therefore, copper arriving at the plant is discharged into the Pacific Ocean where it can damage fish and other aquatic life. MPC has agreed to pay a $75,000 fine, the other defendants' sentences are yet to be determined. The case was investigated by the San Diego Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division with the assistance of the EPA Water Program and EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego.

Michigan Paint Manufacturer Faces Prison for Illegal Waste Storage: Norman Solomon of Farmington Hills, Mich., president of Michigan Industrial Finishes Corporation, pleaded guilty on Feb. 25 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit to violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by illegally storing more than 2,000 55-gallon drums and other containers of highly-flammable paint-related solvents. In his plea, the defendant admitted to storing the drums illegally for more than 90 days a time between 1997 and 2004 despite the fact that he had entered into a consent decree with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 1997 to resolve the storage issues. The ignitable spent solvents being stored illegally included xylene, toluene and methyl ethyl ketone. EPA estimates that Superfund cleanup costs at the site will be approximately $4 million. The case was investigated by the Detroit Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division acting in conjunction with the Southeast Michigan Multi-Agency Environmental Task Force. EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center provided technical support. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit.

EPA Announces First-Ever Rule to Reduce Mercury Emissions from Power Plants
WASHINGTON, DC, March 15, 2005 -- Acting Administrator Steve Johnson will sign the Clean Air Mercury Rule today, a rule that will significantly reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants across the country. Taken together, the recently issued Clean Air Interstate Rule and the new Clean Air Mercury Rule will reduce electric utility mercury emissions by nearly 70% from 1999 levels when fully implemented.

"This rule marks the first time the United States has regulated mercury emissions from power plants," Acting Administrator Steve Johnson said. "In so doing, we become the first nation in the world to address this remaining source of mercury pollution."

The Clean Air Mercury Rule will require reductions at our largest remaining source of human-generated mercury emissions, electric utilities. Mercury is a persistent, toxic pollutant that accumulates in the food chain. While concentrations of mercury in the air are usually low, mercury emissions can reach lakes, rivers and estuaries and eventually build up in fish tissue. Americans are exposed to mercury primarily by eating certain species of fish. Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. However, pregnant women, women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and young children should avoid certain types of fish that are high in mercury.

Johnson noted that close to 80% of the fish Americans buy comes from overseas, from other countries and from waters beyond our reach and control. The United States contributes just a small percentage of human-caused mercury emissions worldwide - roughly 3% with U.S. utilities responsible for about 1% of that.

"Airborne mercury knows no boundaries; it is a global problem. Until global mercury emissions can be reduced - and more importantly, until mercury concentrations in fish caught and sold globally are reduced - it is very important for women of child-bearing age to pay attention to the advisory issued by EPA and FDA, avoiding certain types of fish and limiting their consumption of other types of fish," Johnson added.

Today's rule limits mercury emissions from new and existing coal-fired power plants, and creates a market-based cap-and-trade program that will permanently cap utility mercury emissions in two phases: the first phase cap is 38 tons beginning in 2010, with a final cap set at 15 tons beginning in 2018. These mandatory declining caps, coupled with significant penalties for noncompliance, will ensure that mercury reduction requirements are achieved and sustained.

The cap-and-trade system established under today's rule also creates incentives for continued development and testing of promising mercury control technologies that are efficient and effective, and that could later be used in other parts of the world. In addition, by making mercury emissions a tradable commodity, the system provides a strong motivation for some utilities to make early emission reductions and for continuous improvements in control technologies.

"We remain committed to working with Congress to help advance the President's Clear Skies legislation in order to achieve greater certainty and nationwide emissions reductions," said Steve Johnson. "But we need regulations in place now."

For more information about today's rule, go to: www.epa.gov/mercuryrule. For more information about mercury in fish, go to: www.epa.gov/waterscience/fishadvice/advice.html. For more information about FDA's fish advisory go to: www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html.

[NOTE: Nine northeastern states filed suit against the federal government regarding this rule on April 1. See "In Other News" at "EPA not ready for bioterror, inspector general warns".]

$2.6 Million in Small Business Grants for New Environmental Technologies
WASHINGTON, DC, March 9, 2005 -- The EPA today announced the award of more than $2.6 million to 34 small companies under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program for work in six key environmental areas: 1) nanotechnology - the development of new technologies which use atomic or molecular-scale materials and devices to remove environmental contaminants or to create clean manufacturing processes that use less hazardous chemicals; 2) hazardous wastes - improved methods for managing hazardous wastes or finding substitutes for hazardous materials; 3) air pollution - new technologies that aid in the prevention and control of air pollution; 4) water quality - advanced technologies to keep U.S. waters cleaner; 5) homeland security - projects on safe buildings and water security; and 6) sustainability - development of sustainable technologies that benefit the environment, are not prohibitively expensive, and protect the ecosystems that supply a company's future materials. EPA is one of 12 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal Research and Development, create jobs, and promote U.S. technical innovation. There are approximately 22 million small businesses in the United States that employ more than 50% of the private work force and develop most of the country's new technologies. To participate in SBIR, a small business must have fewer than 500 employees, and at least 51% of the business must be owned by U.S. citizens. The SBIR's next solicitation for developing environmental technologies will open on March 24, 2005 and close on May 25, 2005. A list of all awards and more information on each project is available at: http://es.epa.gov/ncer/events/news/2005/03_08_05_feature.html. To learn more about EPA's SBIR program, visit: www.epa.gov/ncer/sbir.

Proposal to Improve Dioxin and Dioxin-Like Compounds Reporting
The EPA is proposing to improve Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds. The proposal is expected to allow the public to make more informed environmental decisions, and also responds to requests from reporting facilities. At present, 17 different members of the dioxin and dioxin-like family known to pose health concerns are reported to TRI as one total in grams. Because these chemical members differ widely in toxicity, the potential environmental impact of a given release could be very different than another release with the same total number of grams. Toxic equivalents (TEQs) are a weighted measure based on the toxicity of each compound relative to the most hazardous forms of dioxin (such as 2,3,7,8-TCDD). Adding TEQ information to grams reporting will help the public understand if an increased release is actually more, or less, toxic. Adding TEQ reporting was requested by industry and would use the international standard for characterizing dioxin toxicity. EPA believes these data will provide important context for the public to better understand releases in their communities. Only 1300 facilities nationwide will be affected by this change in reporting. Three options will be considered that vary in the degree to which data reporters, or the Agency, perform the relative toxicity calculations using the established international standards of toxicity. Additional information about the proposed rule and comment period is available at: www.epa.gov/tri/tridata/teq/teqmodrule.html.

Enforcement Wrap-up for the Week of March 9, 2005
Laboratory Owner Who Obstructed EPA Case Sentenced to 46 Months Imprisonment on Second Lab Fraud Conviction: Shawn Decareaux Kilgarlin of Baton Rouge, La., former owner of a Baton Rouge laboratory known as Enviro-Comp, was sentenced to serve 46 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay $13,359 in public defender fees on Feb. 24, by U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana in Baton Rouge for mail fraud and obstruction of justice. Kilgarlin's crimes took place while she was on bail awaiting sentencing in a case where she had admitted to witness tampering and making false statements in an EPA Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) lab fraud investigation. In this second case, blood samples were collected but never analyzed and false laboratory reports for drugs were sent to Anderson Industrial Scaffolding Services, the defendant's client. The health and welfare of the public depend heavily upon environmental and worker safety officials having accurate laboratory information. For her prior conviction, Kilgarlin served 12 months in prison, paid a fine of $3,000, and was ordered to serve three years' probation. The current case was investigated by the New Orleans Office of EPA-CID and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Investigations Section. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Baton Rouge.

Three Individuals and Two Corporations Found Guilty in Mississippi Wetlands Case: On Feb. 25, Robert Lucas, Jr., of Lucedale, Miss.; Robbie Lucas Wrigley of Ocean Springs, Miss.; and M.E. Thompson, Jr., of D'Iberville, Miss.; were found guilty by a jury in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Jackson, Miss., of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally constructing septic systems and dredging and filling wetland areas within a 2620-acre home site development in Vancleave, Miss. Additionally, two of Lucas' corporations, Big Hill Acres Inc., and Consolidated Investments Inc., were found guilty of conspiracy and mail fraud in connection with this case. The defendants misrepresented the habitability of the lots and installed septic systems in saturated wetland soils at the Big Hill Acres development despite the fact that the Mississippi Department of Health had warned them that they were creating a public health threat. The defendants also ignored numerous warnings and cease and desist orders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agencies were concerned that these failing septic systems could possibly contaminate the local drinking water aquifer. The case was investigated by the Jackson, Miss., Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Soil Conservation Service and U.S. EPA Region IV. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Gulfport, Miss., and the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section in Washington, D.C.

Eight New Security Product Guides Posted Online at EPA Website
WASHINGTON, DC, March 8, 2005 -- The EPA has released eight new product guides regarding water security issues that are available at its website: www.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/guide/index.html. They include topics such as:
-- Wireless Data Communications
-- Alarms
-- Biometric Hand and Finger Geometry Recognition
-- Manhole Intrusion Sensors
-- Reservoir Covers, and
-- Security Barriers.

Another guide on "Biometric Security Systems" was updated.

###

More in Environmental