Report: Delaware River ranks fifth in U.S. in legal dumping

April 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Water Quality

More toxins are dumped into the Delaware River annually than all but four other U.S. waterways, according to a report released by an environmental group that wants tighter controls on water pollution.

The report, “Wasting Our Waterways,” compiled by Environment America, calls the Clean Water Act an “unfulfilled promise” in the 40th year of the federal law that requires a permit to discharge pollutants into navigable water.

TOXIC RANKING

The U.S. waterways with the most permitted toxic discharge in 2010, according industry reports to the EPA:

1. Ohio River 32.1*

2. Mississippi River 12.7

3. New River 12.5

4. Savannah River 9.6

5. Delaware River 6.7

States with the most toxins discharged into waterways:

1. Indiana 27.3

2. Virginia 18.3

3. Nebraska 14.7

4. Texas 14.5

7. Pennsylvania 10.1

12. New Jersey 8.5

* millions of pounds

Source: Environment America

It cites data submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and says 10.1 million pounds of toxins were dumped into Pennsylvania waterways in 2010, ranking that state seventh. In New Jersey, 8.5 million pounds of toxins were discharged into its waterways, the 12th most of any state.

Those figures include 6.7 million pounds of toxins dumped into the Delaware River, which trailed only four other U.S. waterways.

“The problem is that government agencies allow these discharges to continue by issuing permits to pollute, a perverse interpretation of the Clean Water Act,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “This has to stop if we want to provide a healthy, economically sound Delaware River for everyone.”

The data were reported to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory by industries that are permitted to discharge the toxins.

John Martin, a spokesman for EPA Region 2, which includes New Jersey, said the agency is pleased organizations are using the data “to make industries more transparent and to give citizens groups ” more information.

“We do a lot of enforcement in regard to ” tougher permitting,” Martin said. “We’re always looking to make sure that the waters of the U.S. remain clean and protect human health.”

Bob Considine, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said the department is skeptical of the numbers because the report doesn’t say when and how the pollutants were counted.

He said the department “works every day to ensure that companies are in compliance within the rules of their discharge permits, and it takes appropriate enforcement actions when they are not.”

But the Riverkeeper Network and New Jersey Environment, the Garden State chapter of the group that did the study, want tougher standards. They’re calling for industries to reduce their discharges, for the Clean Water Act to apply to all waterways and the EPA to set pollution limits that would get stricter over time with stiff penalties.

The report says 226 million pounds of toxins were discharged into 1,400 U.S. waterways in 2010.

Article source: http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120408/NEWS90/204080330

EPA Must Clean Up Its (Water) Act

April 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Water Quality

Your editorial “Supremes 9, EPA 0” (March 22) concluding that it is time for Congress to amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) was on target. This agency has lost its way particularly as it relates to administering the CWA. The EPA’s misguided policies are not limited to the private sector but hurt the public sector as well. Its unilateral and unbridled aggression to impose unfunded mandates based on interpretation of the CWA is having profound consequences on local governments.

The CWA has had a remarkable impact on improving the quality of all U.S. waters. During the first two decades of the act, the EPA partnered with state and local governments to improve water quality. Through this partnership, projects were based on cost sharing, cost benefit, good science and prioritization.

That sense of partnership has been lost. The new EPA is indifferent to the cost of compliance because it no longer has a monetary stake in its mandates and chooses whatever it deems as acceptable science to justify its decisions. Without a monetary stake, the EPA imposes unfunded mandates with impunity on local governments. The process for challenging its edicts is severely skewed in the agency’s favor to the extent that few communities choose to appeal its orders.

We need to preserve our aquatic resources and use validated science to guide how and where to spend the public’s money effectively. It is time to declare a moratorium on new CWA regulations or interpretations that will add to the burden of local government. The EPA must return to administering the CWA in a way that is sustainable and reasonable.

Robert L. Moylan Jr., P.E.

President

Massachusetts Coalition for Water Resources Stewardship

Worcester, Mass.

A version of this article appeared April 7, 2012, on page A14 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: EPA Must Clean Up Its (Water) Act.

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303299604577324143756645260.html

Texas Petroleum Investment Company Fined for Violating the Clean Water Act (LA, TX)

August 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Water Quality

Texas Petroleum Investment Company Fined for Violating the Clean Water Act (LA, TX)

(DALLAS – August 11, 2011) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined the Texas Petroleum Company of Houston, Texas, $163,487 for violating federal Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations outlined under the Clean Water Act.

A federal inspection of oil production facilities in Terrebonne, Plaquemines, Lafourche, St. Charles and Iberia parishes in Louisiana revealed the company had failed to prepare and implement SPCC plans as required by federal regulations. Today’s announcement also settles Clean Water Act violations for discharges of oil into wetland areas and unnamed canals in Terrebonne, Plaquemines and Iberia parishes.

SPCC regulations require onshore oil production or bulk storage facilities to provide oil spill prevention, preparedness and responses to prevent oil discharges. The SPCC program helps protect our nation’s water quality. A spill of only one gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of water.

Additional information on SPCC regulations is available at: http://www.epa.gov/oilspill

More about activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.html

EPA audio file is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/podcast/aug2011.html


Article source: http://www.manufacturing.net/News/Feeds/2011/08/mnet-mnet-industry-focus-environmental-texas-petroleum-investment-company-fined-for-viola/

Groups sue Millennium over alleged Clean Water Act violations

August 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Water Quality

Vancouver and Longview citizens groups announced Tuesday they will sue the owner of a proposed coal dock in West Longview, contending that Millennium Bulk Terminals is violating the federal Clean Water Act by handling coal without a permit.

An attorney representing the two groups said he will file a federal suit within 60 days to force Millennium to obtain permits for cleanup work at the former Reynolds metals aluminum plant on Industrial Way. The two groups are Longview-based Land Owners and Citizens for a Safe Community and Vancouver-based Rosemere Neighborhood Association.

“Millennium is not a cleanup company. They are a newly formed company that’s in the export business,” said Gayle Kiser, president of the Longview group, an nonprofit with about 80 members in Cowlitz County.

The conservation groups’ Portland attorney, Scott Jerger, alleges in the suit that Millennium has failed to obtain the proper permits for stormwater and wastewater disposal for the past 209 days while handling coal, petcoke and other materials on the site. Millennium has been working on a cleanup of the Columbia River site since the beginning of the year.

Millennium inherited a giant pile of petcoke — a waste byproduct of the oil refining process from the site’s former tenant, Chinook Ventures, and Millennium officials say they are trying do determine how to remove it. Millennium also is handling about 9,000 tons of coal per month, which it delivers to Weyerhaeuser Co. The conservation groups allege that stormwater running through these materials is causing water pollution.

The total fines for alleged violations would be about $7.8 million, Jerger argued.

The suit was a surprise for Millennium, said Kristin Gaines, the company’s environmental and health manager. She said Tuesday she needed to review the filing before commenting on specific allegations.

“At first glance, I honestly don’t think there’s a lot of merit to their accusations,” she said.

Millennium owns the buildings and equipment on the 416-acre site where it plans to build a export terminal, bringing in coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming and offloading it to ships bound for Asia, mostly China.

Millennium is jointly owned by Australian coal company Ambre Energy and St. Louis-based Arch Coal. The company bought the property for $10.9 million in January from Chinook Ventures.

The mile-long coal trains would likely come through Vancouver rail yards, which is why the Rosemere Neighborhood Association became involved in the suit, said Djiva Bertish, the group’s director of environment and conservation.

The land is owned by Alcoa, which is on the hook with state federal regulators to clean up the site from years of contamination from aluminum smelting by Reynolds. Alcoa plans to submit a cleanup timeline to the state Department of Ecology early next year.

Article source: http://tdn.com/news/local/article_ce213a80-c2e2-11e0-98b8-001cc4c002e0.html

Sewage Frequently Fouls Hudson River, Report Says

August 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Water Quality

The study, issued by the environmental group Riverkeeper, underscores how a big sewage discharge in July, caused by a fire at a treatment plant in Manhattan, was part of a persistent and far more widespread sewage problem along the 155-mile river.

Despite improvements in water quality since the passage of the Clean Water Act in the 1970s, the group said, 21 percent of its water samples had unacceptable levels of bacteria because of problems like discharges from aging or failing sewage treatment plants, overflows caused by rain and poor maintenance of septic systems.

“More and more people are fishing, swimming and boating in the Hudson,” Riverkeeper’s president, Paul Gallay, said in an interview. “If we fail to take care of the river, we lose the gains we’ve made and the economic benefits that go with them.”

The study, based on more than 2,000 water samples collected from May through October at 75 sites between Albany and New York City from 2006 to 2010, offers some surprises. Some of the worst contamination, it turns out, comes from tributaries like streams and creeks that flow into the Hudson.

The report says further research is needed to pinpoint the cause of the pollution in the tributaries, but it suggests some possibilities like leaking septic systems that contaminate groundwater, illegal sewage hookups and agricultural runoff.

With more than eight million residents, New York City nonetheless has better water quality in its part of the Hudson than the Albany region, home to barely one million people, the study also concludes. One reason is that sewage in Albany enters a narrower and shallower stretch of the river, without the dilution benefits of New York City’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.

Another reason, the report says, is that Albany’s treatment plants do not disinfect sewage — although there is a plan to start doing so by 2013 — leaving that section of the Hudson “chronically sewage-laden.”

The bright picture in New York City dims during rainstorms, however, when treatment plants cannot handle the volume, and a mix of sewage and storm water flows into the river. Over all, unacceptable samples increase more than threefold — to 32 percent from 9 percent — in wet weather versus dry weather, the report said.

Riverkeeper’s testing program, a collaboration with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and Queens College at the City University of New York, measures levels of the bacterium enterococcus, which lives in the intestines of humans and some animals. The group said that only New York City and 4 of 10 counties along the river currently perform water quality tests and that none report the findings in a timely fashion.

Riverkeeper officials are recommending weekly water quality testing and public notification on results, more spending on wastewater infrastructure, better enforcement of clean-water laws and new rules like one requiring the inspection and maintenance of private septic systems.

Carter Strickland, a deputy commissioner with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, said on Tuesday that the city had spent nearly $2 billion since the 1990s addressing the problem of combined sewer overflows, which involve systems that collect both storm water runoff and sanitary sewage in the same pipe. He said the solutions included separating the sewage and storm water runoff in some areas and building storage tanks in others so that overflows can be retained and treated.

The Bloomberg administration is also encouraging investment in environmentally friendly infrastructure, like roofs with plantings and porous pavement for parking lots, to capture and retain storm water before it reaches the sewer system and overloads it, Mr. Strickland said.

In the meantime, he said, his department is working toward releasing the results of its water quality tests to the public as soon as they become available.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/nyregion/sewage-frequently-fouls-hudson-river-report-says.html

Fate of bill to limit Clean Water Act being watched

July 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Water Quality


Rich Keller, Editor   |
Updated: July 5, 2011


With all the state’s rights political rhetoric being thrown around in political campaigns and the calls for pushing back the reach of federal agency oversight, many agricultural organizations and their members are interested in new congressional legislation to limit enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

It appears to be a certainty that a bill sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and ranking member Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) will make it to the House floor for a vote this summer. The bill is H.R. 2018.

Stripped to a main basic, the bill would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from reversing/overruling state water quality limits, permitting authority, dredging and waterway activities and rulings related to wetlands.

New water nutrient content oversight in Florida by the EPA is what put Rep. Mica up front with this proposed legislation. Rep. Rahall’s concern appears to come from mining interests such as the EPA stopping mountaintop removal.

The EPA has gone on a publicity/education campaign to try and make legislators understand the ramifications of the proposed law. The EPA issued a report saying the measure “would overturn almost 40 years of federal legislation by preventing EPA from protecting public health and water quality.”

The main defense of federal EPA involvement is that water flows from one state to the next. The EPA contends its ability would be limited in keeping an upstream polluter, because of lax state control, having its polluted water go downstream into another state.

Of course, environmental groups oppose the legislation strongly.

The groups supporting the bill are diverse. Some opposing the EPA in the debate are state’s rights proponents who suggest the EPA is insulting the ability and quality of oversight that state agencies and governments provide. Others against the EPA position, such as agricultural groups, see the Clean Water Act being expanded into areas not intended when the legislation passed in 1972 and the EPA judging clean water and pollution beyond the normal scientific community definitions.

The bill’s sponsors are trying to “fast track” the legislation to a floor debate.

Article source: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/latest/Fate-of-bill-to-limit-Clean-Water-Act-being-watched-124863064.html

Groups: 2 coal operators breaking Clean Water Act – AP

June 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Dumping

A team of environmental groups says two coal companies that were fined in Kentucky last year for violations of the Clean Water Act continue to break the federal law.

ICG and Frasure Creek Mining exceeded the limits of pollution discharge allowed under law more than 4,000 times altogether in the first three months of 2011, the groups said. They made the allegations Tuesday in intent-to-sue letters required by the Clean Water Act.

Last year, the environmental groups took a similar action against the same two coal operators, but never filed suit because Kentucky officials and the companies reached a $660,000 settlement. The environmental groups are challenging the settlement in court, saying it’s not enough.

A spokeswoman for Arch Coal, which completed a merger with ICG in June, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday. A number for Frasure Creek, based in Scott Depot, W. Va., was disconnected.

Frasure Creek and ICG reported the violations from earlier this year to the state, according to Dick Brown, a spokesman for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. State officials are planning to issue citations based on the violations, but Brown said the fines are pending. The state recorded 937 violations for Frasure Creek, and ICG number is still being prepared, Brown said.

Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper and New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance said they filed the notices this week to force the companies to comply with federal law.

“These violations represent a toxic soup being poured into our drinking water and streams,” said Ted Withrow, a member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and former officials with the state Division of Water.

Under the Clean Water Act, the companies have 60 days to respond to the allegations in the notice letter. Then, if the violations are not corrected, the environmental groups have the option to sue.

Article source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43584067

Near Record High Number of Beach Closings in 2010

June 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Water Quality

Near Record High Number of Beach Closings in 2010

Aluminum can buried in beach sand

June 29, 2011 — Last year, America’s beaches had the second-highest number of closings and advisory days in more than two decades. Dirty, polluted water was the main culprit.

In 2010, U.S. beaches were closed for 24,091 days, up 29% from 2009, according to the 21st annual beach water quality report, which was released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental action group headquartered in New York City.

The increase is mainly the result of heavy rainfall in Hawaii, contamination from unidentified sources in California, and oil washing up from the Gulf oil spill. Seventy percent of the closings resulted from too-high levels of bacteria from human or animal waste that finds its way into oceans in large part because of storm water runoff and sewage overflow. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 10 trillion gallons of untreated storm water makes its way to surface water each year.

“This year’s report confirms that our nation’s beach water continues to suffer from serious contamination,” David Beckman, director of the water program at the NRDC, said during a teleconference.

Beach water pollution poses health risks including stomach flu, skin rashes, and pinkeye; and ear, nose, and throat problems. Overall, the Great Lakes region had the most frequently contaminated beach water in 2010, and the Southeast, New York-New Jersey coast, and Delmarva region had the cleanest beach water, the new report showed. Individual states with the highest rates of reported contamination in were Louisiana, Ohio, and Indiana. States with the lowest rates of contamination last year were New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Hawaii, and Delaware. The NRDC based their report on government data on beach water at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide, and also gave ratings to 200 popular public beaches based on their water quality.

Common Sense Advice for Beach Days

Beach goers can also do their share to make sure a day at the beach is nothing short of a day at the beach, said NRDC senior water attorney Jon Devine.

“A day at the beach doesn’t have to mean getting sick,” he says. “Don’t swim near or in front of storm drains and don’t swim within 72 hours of heavy rain,” Devine says.

And always make sure you check for closures or advisory notices before you hit the beach, he says. “If the water looks or smells funny, don’t go in,” he says.

“Picking up your garbage, not feeding birds or other wildlife, cleaning up after your pets, and directing water runoff from your house to soil, not the street also helps,” he says.

On a national level, green infrastructure — which involves the use of techniques that allow rainwater to infiltrate the soil, instead of flowing to storm drains that carry it to nearby water bodies — is part of the safer beach water solution. Congress is mulling over a Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act.

Article source: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20110629/near-record-high-number-of-beach-closings-in-2010

Clean Water Act suit to proceed against Seward coal facility

January 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Dumping

A Clean Water Act lawsuit alleging violations by the Seward Coal Loading Facility was allowed to go forward Jan. 10 by federal district Judge Timothy Burgess.

The coal facility, jointly operated by Alaska Railroad Corp. and Usibelli coal mine subsidiary Aurora Energy Services, has been a sore spot for Seward residents who say the coal dust from operations creates both a nuisance and a public health hazard.

Alaska Railroad Corp. and Aurora Energy Services were denied their bid for dismissal by Burgess.

The lawsuit, filed last January by Trustees for Alaska on behalf of the Sierra Club, Alaska Center for the Environment and Alaska Community Action on Toxins, alleges that a conveyor system delivering coal to export vessels allows coal to fall directly into Resurrection Bay along the length of the conveyor system to the loading facility, as well as from the belt after it loops back underneath itself.

Trustees for Alaska said coal dust from the stockpiles, railcar dumping facility, stacker/reclaimer, ship loader and the conveyor systems fall into Resurrection Bay. There are also concerns over Aurora Energy plowing snow that is allegedly contaminated with coal dust, as well as storm water that flows directly into Resurrection Bay.

The coal dust also blows off the facility’s two massive coal stockpiles into the bay, covering nearby fishing charter boats, other vessels and nearby neighborhoods with dust and debris.

“We are pleased that the Court will allow the case to move forward and address the pollution problems at the coal facility in Seward,” said Trustees for Alaska attorney Brian Litmans in a statement. “The facility is unable to contain the coal dust and keep coal from going into Resurrection Bay, which violates the law and is an ongoing nuisance and health issue.”

The statement from the consortium of plaintiffs also stated Seward was covered with coal dust both on Dec. 10 and Dec. 22.

Last July, the railroad and Aurora reached a joint compliance order with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to pay a $220,000 fine, with most of that money going toward the cost of dust mitigation measures.

Three supplemental environmental projects ordered by DEC were completed on schedule in 2010 and include the installation of additional dust suppression equipment including spray bards, high-pressure spray nozzles and a sealed chute and fogging system on the stacker/reclaimer.

According to Alaska Railroad Corp. vice president for corporate affairs Wendy Lindskoog, another $540,000 in capital expenditures are planned for 2011 regarding dust suppression projects.

Lindskoog said it is company policy to not comment on ongoing litigation.

The Seward coal loading facility, which is located on land owned by the Alaska Railroad, was originally built in 1984 as an economic development project to sell coal to world markets.

Suneel Alaska Corp., the purchaser of the coal for the Korean domestic market, negotiated with the state for construction of the coal dock and a loan from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities built the dock and Suneel installed the conveyor and loading systems.

Railroad officials said their participation was limited to leasing waterfront property for the facility and transporting the coal from Healy to Seward under a contract with Suneel.

Suneel and its successor, Hyundai Merchant Marine, continued to purchase coal and operate the facility through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, with AIDEA becoming a co-owner of the facility in 1995.

Hyundai remained the lessee on the property and operated the facility until January 2007, when the railroad entered into an operating agreement with Aurora Energy Services.

Since then, railroad officials said, the Alaska Railroad and Aurora Energy Services have spent more than $1 million on safety, operational and environmental improvements, including significant environmental upgrades to deal with coal dust.

Andrew Jensen can be reached at andrew.jensen@alaskajournal.com.

Article source: http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/012111/oil_cwasp.shtml