EPA Action: Agency, DuPont agree on PFOA in drinking water limits near W.Va. plant

Also in this report: Final rule out on aquatic pesticide applications; Agency unveils 'Performance and Accountability Report'; Children's exposure to pollutants down; USDA, EPA pursue water quality credit trading for farmers, ranchers; Groundwater Rule released; Tribal projects gain $7M; Mass. district to put $18M in sewage treatment; Move afoot to certify 'WaterSense' professionals; Foundation gets $5.5M for Chesapeake Bay cleanup; Plans firmed up on Superfund sites clean-up in NJ, NY...

Nov 21st, 2006

In other agency news below:
-- EPA issues final rule on aquatic pesticide applications
-- EPA releases annual report, citing cuts of 3 billion pounds of pollution
-- New data show decline in children's exposure to pollutants
-- USDA, EPA sign water quality credit trading agreement to assist farmers, ranchers
-- New rule boosts protection of underground drinking water
-- $7 million available for tribal nonpoint source projects
-- Mass. sanitary district agrees to invest $18 million to improve sewage treatment
-- EPA issues first specifications to certify 'WaterSense' professionals
-- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation gets $5.5 million for Chesapeake Bay clean-up
-- EPA finalizes plans to clean up 11 Superfund sites in NJ, NY

EPA reaches agreement with DuPont to protect drinking water near W.Va. plant -- PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 21, 2006 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed a consent order with E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. that lowers the action level of perfluorooctanoic acid -- also known as PFOA or C8 -- in drinking water for residents in communities surrounding DuPont's Washington Works facility, Washington, W. Va. (seven miles southwest of Parkersburg).

"By agreeing to a stricter PFOA action level now in the vicinity of the facility, EPA and DuPont are taking additional steps to protect local public health while EPA completes a risk assessment for PFOA," said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA's mid-Atlantic region.

Under the order, DuPont will offer alternative drinking water or treatment for public or private water users living near the Washington Works plant if the level of PFOA detected in drinking water is equal to or greater than 0.50 parts per billion (ppb). The agreement affects people in West Virginia and Ohio living near the Washington Works plant.

This action level replaces the 150 ppb threshold established under a March 2002 EPA consent order. EPA's lowering of the action level is based on newer data from experimental animal studies and elevated blood serum levels of PFOA found in the population surrounding the plant, as compared to levels found in the general U.S. population.

PFOA is a synthetic chemical that is not currently regulated under federal environmental laws. PFOA is widely used to make fluoropolymers -- substances with special properties used in many industrial applications, including the manufacture of consumer products such as non-stick cookware and all-weather clothing. PFOA is very persistent in the environment and is found at low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population. Studies indicate that PFOA can cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.

The major companies using PFOA, including DuPont, have joined the PFOA Stewardship Program initiated by EPA. These companies have committed to reduce PFOA from emissions and product content by 95% by 2010, and to work toward eliminating PFOA emissions and content by 2015.

PFOA has been used since the 1950s at DuPont's Washington Works facility. In recent years, EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection have taken actions to protect communities from PFOA contamination of drinking water. In November 2001, West Virginia issued a consent order directing DuPont to monitor groundwater near the Washington Works plant for discharges of PFOA, and conduct a study of the public health impacts of PFOA releases.

The 0.50 ppb action level is a temporary measure to reduce levels of PFOA exposure for residents while EPA completes research required for the PFOA risk assessment. The risk assessment will help estimate the amount of PFOA that people can be exposed to without experiencing adverse health effects. Based on the risk assessment results, EPA will take action if necessary to further protect public health.

The text of the consent agreement is available at the link from the above headline along with a fact sheet offering additional details.

Also see: "DuPont, EPA agree on interim PFOA drinking water standard in W. Va., Ohio" (DuPont News Release with Additional Background)

EPA issues final rule on aquatic pesticide applications -- WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 21, 2006 -- The EPA has issued a final rule clarifying two specific circumstances in which a Clean Water Act permit is not required before pesticides are applied.
The two situations are when:
-- Pesticides are applied directly to water to control pests, including mosquito larvae, aquatic weeds and other pests in the water
-- Pesticides are applied to control pests that are present over or near water where a portion of the pesticide will unavoidably be deposited to the water in order to target the pests effectively
After considering two rounds of public comments, EPA concluded that the Clean Water Act does not require permits in these two situations...

EPA continues to make progress in meeting annual performance goals -- WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 16, 2006 -- The EPA has made improvements across-the-board in protecting the American public from environmental risks over the past year, according to the agency's annual "Performance and Accountability Report." The report, which was delivered to the president on Nov. 15, highlights the agency's accomplishments under its five strategic goals: Clean Air and Global Climate Change; Clean and Safe Water; Land Preservation and Restoration; Healthy Communities and Ecosystems; and Compliance and Environmental Stewardship.
Among key points, the agency:
-- Exceeded its Superfund target by controlling site contamination at an additional 34 sites and the spread of groundwater contamination at 21 other sites.
-- Leveraged more than $8.2 billion in private investment, more than 37,500 jobs, and more than 8,300 properties assessed for potential redevelopment by encouraging cleanup and redevelopment of America's abandoned and contaminated waste sites (brownfields).
-- Prevented the discharge of 31 billion pounds of pollutants through its water quality permits issued under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.
-- Produced more than 400,000 analyses of water, air, floodwater, and residual sediment samples, assessed more than 1,600 chemical facilities and refineries, and handled the disposal of more than 4 million containers of household hazardous waste to support recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
-- Obtained commitments from industry, governments and other regulated entities to reduce pollution by nearly 900 million pounds...
Also see:
-- "EPA Enforcement Cuts Total Pollution by Record 3 Billion Pounds Over Last Three Years"
-- "EPA Enforcement Cuts Total Pollution by 2.6 Million Pounds in New England"
-- "EPA enforcement shows results in Southeast"
-- "Enforcement in Pacific Northwest drives major cleanups, pollution reductions in 2006"
-- "EPA's enforcement efforts yield nearly $300 million in environmental improvements in California in 2006"

New data show decline in children's exposure to pollutants -- WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 24, 2006 -- The percentage of children living in counties that do not meet the air quality standard for fine particulate matter declined from 24% to 16% from 1999 to 2004, according to new data released today by EPA. The data come from an update to "America's Children and the Environment," the agency's compilation of information from federal databases that provide insights into children's environmental health. The data provides Americans with information about children's exposure to environmental pollutants, and it is an important instrument for the agency to gauge its progress in carrying out its mission. Other highlights indicate that children under six are less likely to be regularly exposed to secondhand smoke at home, decreasing from 27% of children in 1994 to 11% in 2003, and the concentration of lead in young children's blood has gone down by 89% over a period of 25 years...

USDA, EPA sign water quality credit trading agreement to offer farmers, ranchers market-based incentives to improve water quality -- WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 13, 2006 -- USDA Natural Resources and Environment Under Secretary Mark Rey and Benjamin Grumbles, Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water, today signed a partnership agreement to establish and promote water quality credit trading markets through cooperative conservation. The agreement features a pilot project within the Chesapeake Bay basin to showcase the effectiveness of environmental markets. Water quality credit trading uses a market-based approach that offers incentives to farmers and ranchers who implement conservation practices that improve water quality. While reducing pollution, they can earn credits they can trade with industrial or municipal facilities that are required by the Clean Water Act and other laws to reduce the amounts of pollution in wastewater...

New rule boosts protection of underground drinking water -- WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 12, 2006 -- More than 100 million Americans will enjoy greater protection of their drinking water under a new rule issued today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The rule targets utilities that provide water from underground sources and requires greater vigilance for potential contamination by disease-causing microorganisms.
The risk-targeting strategy incorporated in the rule provides for:
-- Regular sanitary surveys of public water systems to look for significant deficiencies in key operational areas
-- Triggered source-water monitoring when a system that does not sufficiently disinfect drinking water identifies a positive sample during its regular monitoring to comply with existing rules.
-- Implementation of corrective actions by ground water systems with a significant deficiency or evidence of source water fecal contamination
-- Compliance monitoring for systems that are sufficiently treating drinking water to ensure effective removal of pathogens
A ground water system is subject to triggered source-water monitoring if its treatment methods don't already remove 99.99% of viruses. Systems must begin to comply with the new requirements by Dec. 1, 2009...

Among other recent agency action:

-- "EPA Protects Source of Drinking Water for NY's Tug Hill" (11/15/2006)
-- "EPA Releases Additional Soil and Sediment Sampling in Louisiana" (11/15/2006)
-- "Tribal Grants Guidance to Promote Environmental Results" (11/6/2006)
-- "$7 Million Available for Tribal Nonpoint Source Projects" (11/6/2006)
-- "EPA Determines 99 Missouri Water Bodies Should Be Protected For Recreation" (11/1/2006)
-- "Massachusetts' Greater Lawrence Sanitary District Agrees to Invest $18 Million to Improve Sewage Treatment System and Pay $254,000 Fine" (10/31/2006)
-- "EPA delegates Clean Water Act authority to southern California tribe" (10/31/2006)
-- "EPA Dives into Water Efficiency: Issues first specifications to certify 'WaterSense' professionals" (10/27/06)
-- "EPA Unveils Web-based Ecosystem Indicators for Puget Sound and Georgia Basin" (10/26/06)

-- "EPA recognizes Land Conservancy of Adams County, PA, for protecting drinking water in Gettysburg area" (10/24/2006)
-- "EPA announces $1 million funding for Anacostia during World Water Monitoring Day event" (10/18/06)
-- "Franklin, N.H. Wastewater Treatment Plant (Winnipesaukee River Basin Program) Recognized for Excellence" (10/18/06)
-- "Castleton, Vermont Wastewater Treatment Plant Recognized Nationally for Excellence" (10/18/06)
-- "Auburn, Maine Sewerage District Recognized for Excellence" (10/18/06)
-- "EPA awards $5.5 million to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts" (10/12/2006)
-- "Warner Village, N.H. Water District Wastewater Treatment Plant Recognized for Excellence" (10/12/06)
-- "EPA 'WaterSense' Program to Spark Consumer Demand for Water Efficient Products and Promote Water Conservation" (10/11/06)

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Among other enforcement updates:

-- "EPA's Clean Water Act Enforcement in High Gear: Agency settles stormwater permit cases with several NY construction firms" (11/16/2006)
-- "EPA enforcement shows results in Southeast" (11/15/06)
-- "Skagway, Alaska, Agrees to Pay $18,000 EPA Settlement to Resolve Clean Water Act Violations" (11/6/2006)
-- "U.S. EPA settles for $915,000 with Pala Tribe over San Diego County water violations" (11/6/2006)
-- "Connecticut Manufacturer Agrees to Pay Penalty and Complete Environmental Projects to Settle Financial Assurance Claims" (10/31/2006)
-- "EPA settles storm water cases at construction sites near Anchorage" (10/23/06)
-- "E.C. Phillips and Sons, Inc. Agrees to Pay $25,000 EPA Settlement to Resolve Clean Water Act Violations" (10/11/06)
-- "EPA Finalizes Plans to Clean Up Six Superfund Sites in New Jersey" (10/10/2006)
-- "EPA Finalizes Plans to Clean Up Five Superfund Sites in New York" (10/10/2006)

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In earlier "EPA Action" reports, see:
"EPA Action: Indianapolis agrees to spend $1.86 billion to stop sewer overflows"
"EPA Action: Acquisition of wetlands in Staten Island an eco-smart investment"
"EPA Action: Agency to infuse $1 billion into drinking water programs"

For the latest news releases from the EPA, click here.

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