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Environmental Enforcement Roundup: Oil Recycler Settles EPA Claims; Fishing Tackle Petition Denied; Environmental Justice Meeting

Environmental Leader’s daily roundup of key environmental enforcement news


EPA Reaches Agreement with Oil Recycler for PCB Handling Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced two separate settlements with one of the nation’s largest oil recycling companies. The action will resolve violations of federal toxic substance regulations at the company’s facilities in New York and several New England states.

Under the settlements, Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. agreed to pay a total of $210,000 in penalties and improve its procedures for sampling and handling polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs are potentially cancer-causing chemicals and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.

Federal regulations prohibit the shipping of materials that contain PCBs above 50 parts per million (ppm) without proper documentation and require waste oil containing PCBs to be handled as hazardous waste. Inspections conducted by EPA at seven Safety-Kleen facilities in New York, Maine, Vermont and Connecticut revealed that the company had received used oil containing PCBs above 50 ppm. The company then shipped the oil without preparing the documents required for the transport of hazardous substances.

“PCBs can cause very serious health problems, and Safety-Kleen did not fulfill its obligation to handle this dangerous chemical properly,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The changes that the company has agreed to make will improve its own practices, and has the potential to be a model for the oil recycling industry.”

One of the two settlements covers violations at facilities in New York State (Buffalo, Lackawanna, Syracuse and West Nyack). It includes a penalty of $130,000 and operational improvements at Safety-Kleen facilities in New York and New Jersey. The company will pay an additional $80,000 to settle toxic substance violations at facilities in several New England states.

The company will either test the used oil before it is transferred from trucks into the company’s holding tanks for storage or processing, or test the oil it collects prior to shipping it. These operational improvements and testing at its facilities will exceed the requirements of federal regulations.

PCBs were domestically manufactured and widely used from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in 1979, when Congress strictly limited the manufacture and use of this toxic substance. Despite this ban, PCBs remain legally in use under certain conditions, and are a common contaminant in used oil.

EPA Denies Petition to Ban on Lead in Fishing Gear

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied a petition calling for a ban on the manufacture, use and processing of lead in fishing gear.

In a letter to the petitioners, EPA indicated that the petitioners have not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The letter said that the increasing number of limitations on the use of lead fishing gear on some federal and state lands, as well as various education and outreach activities, call into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to address the concern, as called for under TSCA. EPA’s letter also notes that the prevalence of non-lead alternatives in the marketplace continues to increase.

On August 3, 2010, the American Bird Conservancy and a number of other citizen’s groups petitioned EPA under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act to “prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of lead for shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers.” On August 27, 2010, EPA denied the portion of the petition relating to lead in ammunition because the agency does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under TSCA.

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) Public Meeting and Workshops Nov. 15-18 in Kansas City, Mo.

EPA Region 7 will host a series of free training workshops on November 15 and 16 for prior to a public meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) on November 16-18 in Kansas City, Mo.

The November 15 and 16 workshops will target urban and rural communities, grassroots organizations, academic institutions, businesses, youth, elderly citizens, and other demographic groups, particularly low-income and ethnic-minority populations. The workshops are designed to equip attendees with the tools and information they need to effectively address Environmental Justice issues in their communities.

Workshop content will follow two main tracks: Collaborative Problem Solving with Success Stories, Tools, and Demonstrations; and Grants and Resource Information. Sessions will focus on such topics as “How to Achieve Success by Leveraging Sources in Rural and Urban Communities,” “How to Effectively Reach EJ Communities,” “Addressing Health and the Food Desert in EJ Communities and Creating Green Jobs,” and “Grant Writing 101.”

The workshops will also feature an exhibit hall for community resources and networking.

On November 16, at the conclusion of the free workshops, the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will convene its national meeting, which is free and open to the public. A key portion of the meeting’s agenda is reserved for receiving comments, questions and recommendations on Environmental Justice issues from attendees.

NEJAC was established by EPA in 1993 to obtain independent advice and recommendations from all stakeholders involved in the Environmental Justice dialogue. NEJAC’s Executive Council consists of up to 26 members appointed by the EPA Administrator from key Environmental Justice constituencies, including community-based organizations, business and industry, academic and educational institutions, state and local governments, tribal governments and indigenous groups, and non-governmental organizations and environmental groups.

Where: Westin Crown Center Hotel, 1 East Pershing Road, in Kansas City, Mo.

When: Nov. 15-16 (Workshops); Nov. 16-18 (Conference)

Contact: Fatima Ndiaye, at 913-551-7383, or 1-800-223-0425

Register Online for Public Meeting

View Full Agenda or Register for Free Workshops

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