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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Tyson $4m Penalty, Alcoa Cleanup, BP Appeal

Tyson Foods and several affiliate corporations have agreed pay a $3.95 million penalty, conduct third-party audits and buy $300,000 worth of equipment for chemical emergency first responders, under a settlement to address anhydrous ammonia releases that killed one person and caused multiple injuries between 2006 and 2010, the EPA said. The settlement will protect workers and communities at 23 sites in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, the agency said.

The EPA finalized its plan to clean up river sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at the Grasse River Superfund site in Massena, New York, and says it expects Alcoa to perform the $243 million cleanupThe plan requires dredging and capping of contaminated sediment in a 7.2 mile stretch of the river, and placing a thick armored cap in the upper two miles of the river’s main channel. Alcoa’s Massena facility released PCBs into the river from the 1950s until the mid-1970s, and both Aloca and EPA have been involved in cleanup efforts for several decades, the agency said.

A federal judge ruled on Friday that BP can proceed with its appeal of claim allocations related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the New York Times reported. BP has called some of the claims “absurd,” including $21 million for a rice mill 40 miles inland, which in 2010 saw its highest revenue in three years.

Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s nomination for energy secretary, is due to appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee tomorrow at 10 a.m. Related materials are available here.

A Duke University study finds that EPA regulations could increasingly push power companies to turn from coal to natural gas – even if gas prices rise significantlythe Hill reports. The study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and other Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee say the EPA has improperly allowed environmental groups access to private information on businesses and individualsthe Hill reports. They say that in answering a Freedom of Information Act request on concentrated animal feeding operations last year, the EPA released details such as personal contact information and the size of several cattle operations.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a violation to Dominion Energy‘s decommissioned Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant in Wisconsin, for failure to identify the loss of an indicator to monitor parameters for declaring a general or site area emergency. The utility has restored the instrument, returned it to service and taken corrective actions to better assess emergency equipment failures, the NRC said.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) requested documents on Friday from Interior secretary Ken Salazar and the department’s inspector general, Mary Kendall, related to the administration’s decision to prohibit the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s operations within the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California. Hastings plans to investigate the science used to estimate the farm’s environmental impacts, the committee said.

The USDA awarded $5.3 million in Conservation Innovation Grants to develop approaches and technology to help agriculture adapt to drought inflicted by extreme climate changes. The grants will address issues such as grazing management, warm season forage systems, irrigation strategies and innovative cropping systems, the agency said.

The EPA’s Region 10 has ordered Oil Re-Refining Company of Portland, Oregon to properly dispose of PCB-contaminated oil or pay a $450,000 federal penalty. In 2010, ORRCO collected, transported, stored, and processed more than 150,000 gallons of used oil containing PCBs and hazardous waste in violation of federal requirements, and continues to store a significant amount of such oil, the agency said. Under the order, ORRCO must incinerate 150,000 gallons of oil by October 2016.

Small-scale suction dredge miners may begin applying for a new federal water discharge permit to lawfully operate their dredges in Idaho’s rivers lakes and streams. Mining for gold using small suction dredges is a popular activity in Idaho with hundreds of dredges in use, especially during the summer, the EPA said.

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