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Environmental Enforcement Roundup: Western Refining Southweat, Honeywell

EPA Fines Western Refining Southwest, Inc. for Illegally Disposing Hazardous Waste and Improper Sampling

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Western Refining Southwest, Inc. for failing to adequately monitor benzene discharges and illegally disposing hazardous waste. The company failed to comply with a Consent Agreement and Final Order filed in Aug. 2009.

“It is important to everyone that companies are following proper protocols needed to protect the environment and public health,” EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz said in a statement. “When facilities fail to follow the rules, EPA will act quickly to ensure compliance with the law.”

Western has received two non-compliance letters from the EPA within the past two months. The first letter of noncompliance dated Sept. 24, 2010, was for improper sampling on Aug. 20-22, 2010 and exceeding benzene levels in wastewater on June 24-25 and Aug. 23, 2010.

The second letter dated Nov. 1, 2010, related to similar offenses of improper collection of samples on Sept. 3-7 and improper disposal of hazardous waste on Sept. 30, 2010.

Western Refining has 30 days to pay levied fines after of receiving notification letters.

Western Refining operates a petroleum refinery in Jamestown, New Mexico, approximately 17 miles east of Gallup. The refinery had multiple violations stemming from its storage and treatment of hazardous waste containing benzene, a human carcinogen present in petroleum.

In 2009, EPA and the New Mexico Environmental Department brought the violations to the attention of Western. Western agreed to pay $734,008, cease all discharges of benzene and close two aeration lagoons that received hazardous waste.

Honeywell  Reaches Agreement with New York DEC

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)  has entered into a cleanup agreement  with Honeywell International to properly close waste beds formerly used for industrial operations off Airport Road in the towns of Camillus and Geddes, Onondaga County. The settlement requires the company to pay a $100,000 penalty, investigate potential off-site impacts, reclaim the site by planting a vegetative cover and fund an array of local environmental projects to benefit the public.

“This is a good settlement for the environment and for the people of Central New York,” said DEC Regional Director Kenneth Lynch. “It not only mandates the closure of the waste beds but also sets forth a plan for reclaiming the land using a ‘green remedy.’ Further, Honeywell is obligated to fund a wide range of environmental benefit projects that will address ongoing issues and improve recreational opportunities.”

Consisting of approximately 670 acres, waste beds 9-15 were the primary means of disposal for the waste produced by the Solvay operations of Allied-Signal (formerly Solvay Process Company and currently Honeywell International Inc.), which included soda ash production. Soda ash is used in the production of glass, detergents and cleaners.

Solvay process wastes are the predominant materials found in the waste beds and are primarily composed of calcium carbonate, calcium chloride and magnesium hydroxide. In addition, other waste streams from former plant operations including wastewater and bottom and fly ash, as well as wastewater sludges from Anheuser Busch and the Metropolitan Syracuse Wastewater Treatment Plant, were discharged into the waste beds. These additional waste streams contained other contaminants including volatile organic compounds, phenols and metals.

Analytical sampling on and in the vicinity of waste beds 9-15 has indicated that the waste bed material does not constitute a significant threat to public health or the environment.

However, because the waste beds have yet to be closed to current environmental standards, the chlorides have impacted the surrounding groundwater and surface water, including nearby Nine Mile Creek — which drains to Onondaga Lake – necessitating a modern closure plan.

Settlement

The significant terms of the consent order include:

  • Honeywell is required to submit and implement a closure plan for the entire waste beds 9-15 area, subject to review and approval by DEC.
  • The closure plan may include an alternative cap that complies with current environmental regulations. Honeywell is expected to propose installation of an engineered cap system that will include shrub willow plantings.
  • Closure plan work will be proposed and implemented annually until the entire waste bed area contains an effective engineered cap.
  • Extensive sampling and monitoring is required before, during and after construction to demonstrate the effectiveness of the selected cover system.
  • Honeywell is required to implement interim measures to address ongoing conditions such as erosion and seep areas. They are also required to evaluate the existing leachate collection system and identify and implement appropriate improvements to increase collection capabilities.
  • Honeywell is required to undertake an extensive investigation of off-site areas and submit a plan to address any identified impacts.

The order also requires Honeywell to pay a $100,000 penalty to the state. In addition, Honeywell is required to reimburse the Town of Camillus up to $50,000/year for costs associated with the closure.

Separately, requirements for management and closure of the Sediment Consolidation Area proposed for waste bed 13 and the currently active construction debris disposal facility operated within waste bed 15 by the Town of Camillus are subject to different executed orders and not subject to requirements of the waste beds 9-15 order.

In addition, Honeywell must carry out the following improvement projects designed to benefit the local public and environment:

  • Provide additional funding to address the mudboil problem on Onondaga Creek in the amount of $250,000/year for five years. Mudboils, located in the southern part of the Onondaga Creek Valley, known as the Tully Valley, are unique geologic features that discharge turbid (cloudy), fresh and salty water at the land surface, into the creek and eventually to the Inner Harbor of Onondaga Lake.
  • Design and construct an Onondaga Lake boat launch/kayak launch with universally accessible shoreline fishing along the southwest shore of the Lake.
  • Commence a public process to develop recreational uses on the waste beds.
  • Provide three years of public fishing access on a portion of Onondaga Creek.
  • Provide public fishing rights and recreational access on portions of Nine Mile Creek.
  • Provide funding for additional scientific research related to historic phosphorus and oxygen levels in Onondaga Lake.
  • Provide funding to the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District to support oversight of construction and other stormwater management issues in the Onondaga Lake watershed.

DEC and Honeywell will be developing a plan, including a public process, to implement the Environmental Benefit Projects in early 2011. Planning for the closure of waste beds 9-15 will also begin in early 2011.

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