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Environmental Enforcement Roundup: Goodman Oil; Pesticide Violations; Mountaintop Mining; Attleboro Cleanup

Environmental Leader’s daily roundup of key environmental enforcement news:

 

Goodman Oil to Pay $171,000 for Tank Violations

Goodman Oil Company and Goodman Oil Company of Lewiston agreed to pay a $171,091 fine for a series of fuel storage tank violations at former gas stations across Idaho under a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice, EPA announced yesterday. 
 
The settlement, approved by the federal court in Boise, Idaho on October 1, covers a range of violations beginning as early as 1991 and ending in 2009. The companies have agreed to pay the penalty from the sale of their properties in Idaho and Oregon.
 
The violations occurred at former gas stations owned by the Goodman Oil companies in Boise, Homedale, Nampa, Weiser and Lewiston, Idaho. EPA inspectors identified fuel storage tanks at the stations that were not compliant with EPA requirements. They risked contaminating groundwater, which is a primary source of drinking water for much of Idaho.
 
“Poorly maintained fuel storage tanks and piping can endanger an area’s groundwater supply, so gas station owners must keep storage systems in good shape,” Peter Contreras, manager of the Ground Water Unit at the EPA in Seattle said in a press release. “Thousands of people in Idaho depend on groundwater, so we expect facilities to run their businesses in a way that protects nearby residents.”
 
The facilities had a range of violations that included failure to:

  • Conduct adequate leak detection
  • Upgrade pipes and tanks in a timely way to prevent corrosion
  • Comply with an EPA request for information on the facilities
  • Document financial resources to clean up petroleum releases and cover potential hazards to third parties, including citizens, in the event of a release

The Boise-based companies have since closed or sold most of their facilities in Idaho and Oregon. When storage tanks are not properly maintained, they risk leaking fuel and chemicals into groundwater, which can harm human health. There are approximately 96,000 confirmed releases from storage tanks awaiting cleanup across the nation according to EPA.

Pesticide Importer/Manufacturer Faces Fines for Reporting Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed penalties against a Massachusetts company that produces and imports pesticides and pesticide devices for importing these products for distribution or sale without submitting the required forms to EPA, the agency said in a press release.

In its complaint, EPA’s New England office alleges that Millipore Corp. of Billerica imported unregistered pesticides (chlorine tablets) for distribution or sale on numerous occasions without submitting the Notice of Arrival forms required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, known as FIFRA.

According to the complaint, Millipore also imported pesticide devices (water purification devices) on numerous occasions without submitting the required Notice of Arrival forms. EPA’s complaint alleges that these FIFRA violations occurred from Sept. 2005 to Oct. 2008 and seeks a penalty of up to $6,500 for each violation.

Under FIFRA, all pesticides used and sold in the U.S. are required to undergo a rigorous, science-based review process to ensure that they can be used safely and do not pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. Importers of pesticide products must provide data to EPA regarding pesticides or devices that may be entering the U.S. prior to their import.

The Notice of Arrival forms provide important information to EPA regarding pesticides and pesticide devices entering the country including, for example, the major active ingredients, quantities, countries of origin, identity of producing establishments, carriers, ports of entry, and contact information.

Citizen Groups Attempt to Intervene in Mountain Mining Lawsuit

The Sierra Club and a coalition of regional citizen groups are seeking to intervene in a coal industry lawsuit over the Obama administration’s crackdown on mountaintop removal coal mining, the Charleston Gazette reports.

Lawyers for the coalition groups filed a motion to intervene in the suit brought by the National Mining Association in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Mining industry lawyers are seeking to block more detailed permit reviews and tougher water quality guidance issued earlier this year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In a news release, the citizen groups said that they filed their motion because “the mining industry should not be able to prevent government agencies from doing their jobs: To follow the Clean Water Act, consider the key scientific information discussed in the guidance, and protect America’s water from destruction.”

“For 40 years the Clean Water Act has protected Americans from unacceptable pollution like the mining waste that destroys our essential mountain streams,” Debbie Jarrell, assistant director of Coal River Mountain Watch told the Charleston Gazette. “But here in Appalachia, we’re still waiting for real protection.”

The other groups seeking to intervene are Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, and Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment.

While the coal industry favors mountaintop removal’s efficiency, and local political leaders praise the jobs provided, there is a growing scientific consensus that the practice is causing widespread and irreversible damage to the region’s forests, water quality and communities.

Shortly after taking office, the Obama administration announced it was taking “unprecedented steps” to reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal.

EPA began much more rigorous reviews of valley fill permit applications being considered by the federal Army Corps of Engineers and threatened to exercise its Clean Water Act authority to block those permits if it believed the impacts were too great.

In its suit, the mining association alleges this process “adds significant additional time to the corps regulatory review” and is “dramatically altering timelines” for companies to receive new mining permits.

This April, EPA also announced a new guidance for its regional offices in reviewing water pollution permits for mining projects being considered for issuance by state agencies like West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection.

The new guidance calls for much tougher review, and perhaps rejection of permits, based on the potential to increase the electrical conductivity of streams, which is a stronger measure of many harmful pollutants from mining and has been linked to damage of aquatic life.

EPA made its guidance effective immediately on an interim basis, but is also conducting an eight-month public comment period and subjecting the scientific reports the guidance is based upon to peer review.

In its suit, the mining association said the guidance constitutes a rulemaking that should have gone through a public comment before it was put into effect.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin ordered the state Department of Environmental Protection last week to file a similar lawsuit against EPA and the Corps of Engineers.

EPA to Begin Attleboro Cleanup–Public Meeting to be Held on Oct. 18

Clean up of the hazardous waste at the former Walton & Lonsbury facility at 78 North Ave., Attleboro, Mass. begins next week on Oct. 19. EPA will also hold an informational Public Meeting to discuss the work on Monday, Oct. 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Municipal Council Chambers at Attleboro City Hall at 77 Park Street.

Walton & Lonsbury, Inc. operated the 13,500 square foot chrome plating facility from 1940 to 2007, specializing in plating oversized objects such as pistons for large hydraulic equipment.

Until 1970, the hazardous wastes generated from the facility were discharged directly via an underground pipe into the wetlands behind the facility. From 1970 until the mid-1980s the facility disposed of waste in surface lagoons; and then from 1986 until 2007, the company operated their own wastewater treatment facility to manage their wastes.  As a result of their waste management and plating practices, toxic contaminants remain on Site both in and around the building.   EPA will be working to remove these contaminants over the next 18-36 months.  

During building demolition and excavation, EPA will install air monitoring stations around the Site to continuously check the air quality in order to ensure the safety of the public near the Site.

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