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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Illegal Waste Export, E. Coli Limits, EPA 2012 Results

Executive Recycling, formerly of Englewood, Co., and two of its top executives were convicted of criminal charges for illegal export of hazardous waste, smuggling, obstruction of justice, and wire and mail fraud in a Denver federal court. Brandon Richter is the former owner and CEO; executive Tor Olson was also found guilty. Executive Recycling has since changed its name to Techcycle, Basel Action Network said. BAN said it photographed 20 seagoing containers leaving Executive Recycling loading docks, tracked them overseas, and tipped off the EPA.

The Interior Department has released a plan to manage energy drilling on part of Alaska’s North Slope, with the opening of 11.8 million acres of the 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve. These areas are estimated to contain about 72 percent of the economically recoverable resources in the reserve. The plan also would allow for the potential construction of pipelines carrying oil or gas from operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas through the NPR region known as the Western Arctic Reserve, Reuters said.

The EPA has updated the Revised Total Coliform Rule for pathogens in drinking water, including setting a limit for the bacteria E. coli. The rule, effective April 1, 2016, requires public notification if a test exceeds the Maximum Contaminant Level for E. coli. State and local agencies that oversee drinking water facilities must then assess the system and fix potential sources and pathways of contamination, the agency said.

Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) are defending a provision they inserted in the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, requiring oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. The lawmakers petitioned a federal appeals court to file an amicus brief on behalf of the SEC, which issued the rules implementing the legislation, The Hill said. The US Chamber of Commerce, National Foreign Trade Council and oil industry groups sued the SEC over the regulations in October.

Talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union leaders last week failed to settle energy issues between the trading partners. EU legislation created a single energy market to prevent those that control supply, such as Russia’s Gazprom, from also dominating distribution networks. Russia is the main external supplier of energy to the EU, but pipeline disputes with Ukraine and Belarus have disrupted its gas exports to Europe. The EU is looking to diversify supply, Reuters said.

The EPA released its annual enforcement results, including a reduction of 2.2 billion pounds of air, water and land pollution, 4.4 billion pounds of hazardous waste, and $252 million in civil and criminal penalties levied. The agency said it also secured $44 million in additional investments through settlements for supplemental environmental projects in 2012.

Solutia Inc. and INEOS Melamines, who are operators of the Indian Orchard chemical plant in Springfield, Mass., will pay a penalty of $970,000 and take other actions under a settlement reached with the EPA and DOJ. The consent settles claims for alleged Clean Air Act violations between 2003 and 2010, involving leak detection and repair requirements in the plant’s federal and state operating permits, the agency said.

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