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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Criminal Conviction, Ballast Rules, Bee Health

A federal jury yesterday found Tonawanda Coke and its environmental controls manager Mark L. Kamholz guilty of 14 charges including violations of the Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, related to the disposal of benzene – and also found Kamholz guilty of obstruction of justice, Reuters reported. It was only the second criminal prosecution nationwide to involve the Clean Air Act, the Buffalo News said. The company and Kamholz could pay fines of more than $200 million, and he could be sentenced to up to 75 years in prison.

The EPA yesterday issued a final vessel general permit regulating discharges from commercial vessels, including ballast water. The permit tightens the discharge standard on invasive species, protects the nation’s waters from ship-borne pollutants and eliminates duplicative reporting requirements, the EPA says. The 27 specific discharge categories apply to commercial vessels greater than 79 feet, and the new permit will replace the 2008 vessel general permit due to expire on Dec. 19, 2013.

Syngenta and Bayer CropScience have proposed a plan to address bee health, including measures to limit the insects’ exposure to the class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, CropLife reported. A Bayer official said evidence points to other reasons for bee decline, but the two companies said they were proposing the plan because of the European Commission’s failure to formulate its own plan.

The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday to direct $2 billion into a water infrastructure fund, which would create loans for projects including reservoirs, pipelines and conservation work, the Austin Business Journal said. Only two representatives voted against the bill, which now heads to the Senate.

Alberta officials have ordered Suncor to suspend discharges from one of its wastewater ponds and determine what is causing a high level of toxicity, in response to a March 2011 company report stating a failure to meet provincial toxicity standards. The province said the order is not connected to a burst pipe that saw a Suncor facility release untreated wastewater into the Athabasca River earlier this week, CTV reports.

China will spend 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) over three years to address pollution in Beijing, Reuters reports. The city’s government has promised to improve air quality, garbage treatment and sewage disposal, according to the plan released yesterday.

Marisco Ltd. will pay civil penalties of $710,000 in a settlement with the EPA and the Hawaii State Department of Health, for alleged water pollution control violations at ship repair and drydock facilities at Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor on Oahu. This is the largest Clean Water Act civil penalty against a ship repair facility nationwide, the EPA said.

Weylchem US will pay a civil penalty of $500,000 and perform corrective action measures to address alleged violations of federal and state air, water, and solid waste pollution laws at its specialty chemical manufacturing facility in Elgin, SC and its wastewater treatment plant in Lugoff, SC. Contaminants of concern include benzene, benzoyl chloride, chlorine, ethyl chloride, ethylene glycol, methanol, methylene chloride, phenol, toluene, and xylene, the EPA said. The facility, which produces chemicals for use in pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other products, has operated in Elgin since 1967 under various names including Elgin Fine Chemicals, Clariant LSM (America) Inc., and Archimica Inc. 

Red Shield Acquisition LLC, which does business under the trade name Old Town Fuel & Fiber, has agreed to pay a $126,000 fine to resolve claims that it violated the terms of wastewater and stormwater permits at its Old Town, Maine pulp mill, in violation of the Clean Water Act. The EPA also alleged that Red Shield failed to adequately maintain control measures put in place to reduce pollutants in stormwater discharges from the facility and failed to properly prepare a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan for the site.

Two seafood processors in Alaskan waters, Aleutian Leader Fisheries and Salamatof Seafoods, failed to comply with Clean Water Act permits that regulate seafood waste discharges, according to settlement agreements with the EPA. The companies will pay $59,000 and $45,000, respectively.

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