EPA Action: New England enforcement cases show need for chemical accident prevention

Also in this report: Mud Bay Water System recognized for protecting drinking water; U.S., EU sign pact on common environmental challenges; MSAT rule slashes toxics from gasoline; Cities win awards for CWSRF use to improve wastewater management; CWSRF monies slashed again; Soderberg honored for Caribbean clean water efforts; Universities, MWDSC to split $5 million in drinking water grants; UCMR2 water monitoring excludes perchlorate; EPA names national research directors...

In other news below:
-- Mud Bay Water System recognized for excellence in protecting drinking water
-- U.S., EU sign pact on common environmental challenges
-- MSAT rule slashes toxics from gasoline, vehicles and fuel containers
-- Cities honored with Pisces Awards for CWSRF use to improve wastewater management
-- Clean water funding takes another hit in federal budget
-- Soderberg wins award for clean water in Caribbean region
-- Universities, MWDSC to split $5 Million in Safe Drinking Water Grants
-- UCMR2 water monitoring excludes perchlorate
-- EPA names directors to national research programs
-- Zenick named director of NHEERL

Multiple enforcement cases show need to follow chemical management, accident prevention laws in New England -- BOSTON, MA, Feb. 13, 2007 -- Over the past several months, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken aggressive enforcement actions against New England facilities that have violated federal chemical emergency response and prevention laws. These laws and regulations direct companies and organizations that use, store and manage hazardous chemicals to develop comprehensive chemical risk management plans, provide emergency responders with critical information about the presence of hazardous chemicals at their facilities, and follow guidelines to reduce the risk of accidents from hazardous chemicals.

Recent traumatic events, such as terrorist attacks, hurricanes and accidental fires, have highlighted the importance of preparing for, preventing, and responding quickly to chemical releases in our communities.

Under this effort, EPA has taken legal action against 18 separate facilities throughout New England, including six municipalities that store bulk chemicals at their water treatment facilities. As a result of these cases, the facilities either face or have paid penalties, and have spent millions of dollars in safety improvements. In one case, EPA's enforcement action against NOVA Chemicals of Indian Orchard, Mass. will result in nearly $3 million in safety improvements to the facility's polystyrene processes.

"If there is an emergency involving hazardous chemicals, first responders rely on chemical management databases to protect the surrounding community and themselves," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "This is not simply a paperwork exercise -- by following proper accident prevention and reporting protocols and ensuring that emergency responders have up-to-date and accurate chemical information, we can prevent chemical accidents, save lives, and protect peoples' health during emergency responses."

A number of large and small chemical releases by local companies have led EPA's New England office to intensify efforts to make sure facilities storing large amounts of chemicals follow procedures for reporting the presence of chemicals, follow steps to prevent chemical accidents and immediately report releases to state and federal emergency responders. These practices are required by several federal environmental laws, including the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

EPA has taken action to enforce chemical preparedness and reporting laws at the following New England facilities:
-- NOVA Chemicals Inc. Indian Orchard, Mass.
-- Callahan Co. Walpole, Mass.
-- Hallsmith SYSCO Norton, Mass.
-- AGAR Supply Co. Taunton, Mass.
-- John B. Hull, Inc. Great Barrington, Mass.
-- North Atlantic Fish Company, Inc. Gloucester, Mass.
-- Atlantic Wire Company, LLC Branford, Conn.
-- Atlantic Coast Polymers, Inc. Plainfield, Conn.
-- Barber Foods Portland, Maine
-- Ocean State Power Company Harrisville, Rhode Island
-- ChemArt Company Lincoln, Rhode Island
-- Ellsworth Ice Cream Company North Springfield, Vermont
-- Glastonbury Wastewater Treatment Plant Glastonbury, Conn.
-- Nrwich Wastewater Treatment Plant Norwich, Conn.
-- Lake Auburn Intake Facility Lewiston and Auburn, Maine
-- Amesbury Drinking Water Treatment Plant Amesbury, Mass.
-- Danvers Drinking Water Treatment Plant Danvers, Mass.
-- Newport Wastewater Treatment Facility Newport, Vermont

Because it is important that companies and municipalities understand their obligations under the law, EPA offers technical assistance to facilities to ensure compliance with these important environmental statutes. In fact, throughout the month of February, EPA is holding a series of workshops across New England to help facilities understand reporting requirements, such as the chemical inventory information that must be filed with local and state emergency response authorities. In FY 2006, EPA conducted 15 such workshops as well as 11 disaster preparedness exercises and 16 workshops to train first responders in the use of emergency planning and response software.

EPA also encourages companies to take advantage of its Audit Policy, a program that includes incentives for regulated entities to voluntarily disclose and come into compliance with federal environmental laws and regulations. Last fiscal year, approximately 30 facilities disclosed that they had failed to provide chemical inventory information to the proper state and local authorities, for which EPA deferred more than $3.2 million in penalties.

The deadline for filing hazardous chemical inventory information (as required under EPCRA sec. 312) is March 1.

For more information on EPA training workshops on EPCRA reporting requirements, click here.

For more on EPCRA in New England, click here.

And national EPA information on chemical emergency preparedness and prevention programs can be found at: www.epa.gov/ne/tks/chemprepinfo/.


Mud Bay Water System recognized for excellence in protecting public health, providing safe drinking water -- SEATTLE, Feb. 12, 2007 -- The Mud Bay Water System near Olympia, WA, has earned national recognition as an outstanding public water system, according to the EPA. The system was recognized as part of the agency's recent annual "Drinking Water State Revolving Fund" Awards program, which highlights municipal water providers that have 'gone the extra mile' to protect people where they live. Mud Bay used a combination federal loan and grant funds to replace an existing spring source with a well, allowing it to increase capacity and hook several new residents up to the system. These residents had previously relied on small wells, which were damaged in a 2001 earthquake. The funds also helped replace failing water mains, install service meters, source meters, and shut-off valves...

U.S., EU sign pact on common environmental challenges -- WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 9, 2007 -- U.S. and European Union scientists and researchers plan to work more closely in solving common environmental problems and sharing information on emerging issues such as nanotechnology under a new agreement finalized today in Brussels. EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and Director General for Research Jose Manuel Silva Rodriguez of the European Commission (the executive body of the European Union) have signed an "Implementing Arrangement on Environmental Research and Ecoinformatics." Ecoinformatics is advanced computer and information technology necessary for environmental research. Cooperation under the EPA-EC Implementing Arrangement is expected to take many forms, including direct collaboration between U.S. and European researchers and associations; joint sponsorship of conferences, workshops and meetings; coordinated calls for proposals and mutual participation in peer reviews; and exchanges of information, methodologies, and data...

EPA rule slashes toxics from gasoline, vehicles and portable fuel containers -- WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 9, 2007 -- Toxic fumes from gasoline, vehicles and fuel containers will decrease significantly, further reducing health risks under tough new standards signed today by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. By 2030, EPA's new Mobile Source Air Toxic (MSAT) regulations and fuel and vehicle standards already in place will reduce toxic emissions from cars to 80 percent below 1999 emissions. The MSAT rule toughens benzene standards for gasoline, sets hydrocarbon emissions standards for cars at cold temperatures and tightens fuel containers to prevent the evaporation of harmful fumes. Once the new standards are fully implemented in 2030, they're expected to reduce emissions of mobile source air toxics annually by 330,000 tons, including 61,000 tons of benzene. EPA estimates annual health benefits from the particulate matter reductions of the vehicle standards to total $6 billion in 2030. The estimated annual cost for the entire rule is about $400 million in 2030...

Lynchburg, Va., honored for upgrades to sewage treatment system -- City is among several to receive USEPA Pisces Awards for use of Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) monies to improve wastewater management. -- PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 9, 2007 -- The USEPA joined environmental leaders from Virginia today in recognizing Lynchburg, VA, for efficiently using federal funding to upgrade the city's aging sewage system to reduce sewage overflows into the James River. City is among several recognized with USEPA Pisces Awards for use of Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) monies to improve wastewater management. Others community efforts honored include those of Missoula, MT, Hood River, OR, Bayfield, WI, Hartselle, AL, and Dearborn, MI...
Also see:
-- "Hartselle Utilities in Hartselle, Ala., receives EPA award for environmental excellence" (2/2/2007)
-- "Jumpertown, Miss., environmental achievements recognized by EPA" (2/2/2007)
-- "Wilson, NC, environmental achievements recognized by EPA" (2/2/2007)
-- "Ledyard, Conn., wastewater treatment facility recognized for excellence" (2/1/07)
-- "Groton, Conn., wastewater treatment facility recognized for excellence" (2/1/07)
-- "Derry, N.H., wastewater treatment facility recognized for excellence" (2/1/07)
-- "Mansfield, Mass., water pollution control facility recognized for excellence" (2/1/07)

Clean water funding takes another hit, WWEMA reports -- WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 6, 2007 -- President Bush's budget proposal for fiscal year 2008 provides only $688 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, a 50% decrease from just three years ago. "With billions in wastewater infrastructure needs facing our nation, now is not the time for the Federal government to divest itself of its role in capitalizing these highly essential state revolving fund programs," proclaimed Ken George, chairman of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association...
Also see:
"AGC sees construction, water infrastructure programs squeezed in 2008 federal budget"
-- "EPA's FY 2008 Budget Focuses on Next Phase of Environmental Progress" (USEPA)
-- "Lawmakers boost funding for CWSRF" (AWWA)

EPA's Soderberg wins Gold Award for contributions to clean water in the Caribbean region -- SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Feb. 2, 2007 -- Carl Soderberg, Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Caribbean Environmental Protection Division in Santurce, has received the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association's Gold Award for 2006 for his outstanding efforts to protect and restore Caribbean waters throughout his career. Soderberg started his professional career in 1970 as a staff engineer in the Water Pollution Control Program at the Puerto Rico Department of Health. A year later, he joined the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB) as a staff engineer in the Water Pollution Control Bureau and, within six months, was promoted to Technical Assistant and then Associate Director for Air and Water Programs. He subsequently served as Chief of the Water Quality Bureau and Director of Water Quality. From 1979 to 1989, Soderberg also served as an alternate member of the governing board of EQB. In 1981, he was promoted to Vice Chairman. In 1987, he was recruited by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority to establish and implement their industrial pretreatment program; he served as Director of the pretreatment area until January 1992. Since 1992, Soderberg has been the Director of the EPA Region 2 Caribbean Environmental Protection Division...

EPA awards $5 Million in Safe Drinking Water Grants -- WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 18, 2007 -- Ten universities and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California received grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for research to develop better methods for detecting harmful organisms in drinking water, including viruses, bacteria and protozoa. The grants, awarded through EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grants program, are aimed at ensuring that the United States has the safest drinking water in the world...

MWH Labs meets new UCMR2 water monitoring requirement -- MONROVIA, CA, Jan. 18, 2007 -- MWH Labs, a leading U.S. water testing laboratory, announced that it has been certified by the EPA as an Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 2 (UCMR2) approved laboratory for all required analytical methods (521, 535, 527, 529, and 525). UCMR2 is a new EPA water monitoring program that requires public water systems to be screened for up to 25 chemicals between 2008 and 2010. MWH Labs is one of few labs nationwide demonstrating capability for UCMR2 assessment and screening monitoring...
Also see:
-- "Perchlorate dropped from UCMR2" (AWWA)
-- "EPA to require unregulated contaminants monitoring under UCMR2"
-- "EPA Studies Unregulated Contaminants" (WaterWorld)

EPA names directors to national research programs -- WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 12, 2007 -- To address high-priority research needs to protect public health and the environment, EPA's Office of Research and Development announced yesterday the appointment of four new national program directors. This completes the extensive search process to identify leading environmental science and engineering experts for eight newly created national programs. Charles Noss, Sc.D., will coordinate research on water quality, and Audrey Levine, Ph.D., will do the same for drinking water research...

EPA names director of NHEERL -- WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 8, 2007 -- The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development (ORD), named Dr. Harold "Hal" Zenick as director of EPA's National Health & Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL), in Research Triangle Park, NC. NHEERL is the largest of ORD's laboratories and centers and produces specialized scientific research to help protect human health and safeguard the environment. Zenick has been with ORD for 22 years, recently as NHEERL acting director and previously deputy director...


Among other recent agency action:

-- "EPA delegates Clean Water Act Authority to Nevada Paiute Tribe" (2/8/09)
-- "EPA awards $4 million grant to help upgrade Wilkes-Barre sewers" (2/6/2007)
-- "EPA grant to improve East Waterford, Pa., sewers" (2/6/2007)
-- "Holloway Technology Inc., in Leesburg, Fla., receives EPA award for environmental excellence" (2/2/2007)
-- "Maine DEP employee recognized for outstanding wastewater operator training, technical assistance" (2/1/07)
-- "Changes to Minnesota's drinking-water rules will better protect public health" (1/18/2007)

Among other enforcement updates:

-- "EPA Reaches Storm Water Settlement with Dependable Contracting Inc." (2/12/2007)
-- "Connecticut Oil Firm Agrees to Pay Fine to EPA for Lack of Adequate Oil Spill Planning" (2/9/09)
-- "EPA, HDOH seek penalties from County of Maui for December wastewater spill" (2/8/09)
-- "Groundbreaking for Construction of Hudson River Cleanup Facility Set for the Spring; Dredging Schedule Extended" (2/8/09)
-- "EPA orders Thomas Carpenter to restore impacts to the Sacramento River" (2/8/09)
-- "Oakland company ordered to meet Clean Water Act requirements at its facility in San Jose" (2/8/09)
-- "EPA, Anchorage Developer Settle Storm Water Case" (2/8/09)
-- "EPA Issues City of Tacoma $358,000 Penalty for Missing Commencement Bay Cleanup Deadline" (2/8/09)

-- "City of Ketchikan, Alaska, Agrees to Pay $39,000 Settlement to Resolve Federal Clean Water Act Violations" (2/1/07)
-- "Great Barrington Oil Facility to Pay Fine for Clean Water and Chemical Inventory Violations" (1/31/2007)
-- "Worcester Construction Company Pays EPA Penalty for Clean Water Violations" (1/31/2007)
-- "EPA Files Complaint Against Maine Dairy Farm to Require Compliance with Clean Water Standards" (1/29/2007)
-- "EPA Reaches over $10,000 Clean Water Act Settlement with Deep Creek Custom Packing, Inc. of Ninilchik, Alaska" (1/29/2007)
-- "Developer Cited for Clean Water Act Violations in St. Charles County, Mo." (1/26/2007)
-- "Four Feedlots in Western Iowa Ordered to Comply With Clean Water Act" (1/26/2007)
-- "EPA, Navy Reach Landmark Agreement on the Cleanup of Former Naval Station Roosevelt Roads Base" (1/26/2007)
-- "Massachusetts Textile Company Fined $480,000 for Clean Air and Clean Water Violations" (1/25/2007)


In earlier "EPA Action" reports, see: "EPA Action: Agency to require unregulated contaminants monitoring"

For water-related news releases at the EPA website, click here.

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


More in Environmental