United States Environmental Protection Agency

December 31, 2013

Neighbors Fume at Radioactive Dump

Source: Dow Jones News Service, December 30, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

A dispute is smoldering here, in one sense quite literally, over what to do with thousands of tons of radioactive waste in a landfill in this suburban St. Louis town.

Some residents argue the waste, created decades ago by the U.S. nuclear-weapons program and other federal work, poses a health and environmental threat and should be removed. The landfill’s owner disputes that and says the best course is to leave the waste in place with some beefed-up protections. The Environmental Protection Agency has favored the second option but is reconsidering in reaction to community opposition.

The dispute is complicated by other factors. What officials from the EPA and the landfill’s owner call a “subsurface smoldering event”–locals call it an underground fire–has sprung up in a nearby nonnuclear landfill area. It isn’t clear what would happen if the smoldering reaches the radioactive materials. Efforts are under way to prevent that.

Digging up the radioactive waste, meanwhile, could cause flight-safety headaches at the nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Officials of the airport say excavating the landfill could attract birds that might pose a risk to planes. A 2010 letter from the airport authority called the landfill, known as West Lake, “a hazardous wildlife attractant.”

West Lake exemplifies one of the enduring challenges created by the federal government’s drive to develop nuclear weapons and other forms of atomic energy: what to do with the radioactive mess left behind.…

December 27, 2013

EPA removes tainted soil from housing complex

Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), December 24, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed 650 tons of lead-contaminated soil from a former playground and nearby areas on a housing complex in the Ironbound section of Newark, the agency said yesterday.

The $1.4 million cleanup project focused on the Millard E. Terrell Homes on Riverview Court. The EPA found high levels of the toxic metal in samples collected there in December 2012 and worked over the past year to remove dirty soil.

“Exposure to lead can have lifelong effects on children’s health and their development, which is why the EPA took steps to reduce potential exposure to lead in the soil at the housing complex,” Judith Enck, the agency’s regional administrator, said in a statement.

The EPA began looking at the site to see whether a nearby industrial facility had left any contamination there. Scientists found high levels of the metal in the top 2 feet of soil where the playground was located. The agency conducted cleanup work through the spring and summer, when it also found contamination in other areas of the complex and removed it.

The neighboring property owner, 99 Chapel Street Partners, will install a barrier wall along the property line to stop further contamination of the housing complex property, the EPA said.

 …

December 26, 2013

USEPA Fines Pesticide Producer

Read here about a pesticide producer that has agreed to fines of more than $1.7 million.

 …

December 26, 2013

5 years after coal-ash spill, little has changed

Source: USAToday.com, December 23, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

As Tommy Charles looks out of his dining room window, it’s easy to see why he and his wife moved to Lakeshore Drive here nearly 50 years ago.

The Emory River widens as it passes his house. Great blue herons glide above the placid, gray water. It’s an idyllic place to live and raise a family.

Because others saw the same potential, the neighborhood grew to more than 25 homes. No one seemed to mind the Tennessee Valley Authority power plant looming just a short distance away.

That was how things were, at least, before the early morning hours of Dec. 22, 2008. When a dike failed at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant, 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash cascaded into the Emory and Clinch rivers and smothered about 300 acres of land.

The breach released a slow-moving wave of toxic sludge and polluted water into the river in what remains the nation’s largest coal-ash spill in history. It snapped trees as if they were twigs and knocked homes off their foundations. It destroyed three houses and damaged dozens of others. There were no injuries.

More coal ash spilled at Kingston than oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico two years later. Enough muck spewed forth to fill a football field more than 2,500 feet into the air. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation hit TVA with an $11.5 million fine.

“As soon as I got out and moved around, I saw that mess,” Charles, 74, recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.”…

December 18, 2013

EPA continues investigation of vapor intrusion in Riverside

Source: http://envfpn.advisen.com, December 15, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The Environmental Protection Agency will spend the next two months collecting air samples from homes in the Avondale community to determine how serious vapor intrusion is for those Riverside citizens.

But in the meantime, residents are worried about their health and property values.

The area of concern is bordered by Guernsey Dell Avenue, Minnesota Drive, Hypathia Avenue, Rohrer Boulevard and Valley Pike. There are about 130 residences in that neighborhood.

Vapor intrusion occurs when underground pollutants give off dangerous gases that can rise up through the soil and seep into buildings through foundation cracks and holes, causing unsafe indoor air pollution, according to the EPA.

The drinking water is not impacted by these site conditions, according to the EPA. The drinking water comes from the city of Dayton’s public water supply.

Steve Renninger, on-scene coordinator for the EPA’s Region 5 in Cincinnati, said it is possible the contamination extends beyond the initial area of concern.

“The data drives the decisions,” Renninger said. “If we start seeing elevated levels past in any direction, we’ll step it out another block until we see it subside.”

Kenneth Emmons, who lives with his parents at 2620 Bushnell Avenue, said since he and his fiancee moved in back in June, he regularly gets headaches and becomes nauseated.…

December 16, 2013

New look at old refinery aims to assess sources of pollution

Source: http://www.news-journal.com, December 8, 2013
By: Peggy Jones

Federal oversight of the old Longview Refinery property on Premier Road entered a new phase this past week when environmental experts from across Texas met there to inspect existing groundwater monitoring wells and pick locations for new soil and groundwater testing that will begin early next year.

The new round of Environmental Protection Agency testing is aimed at determining whether toxic hazards still exist at the refinery, which operated from 1935 until 1992, and if so, to what degree. Officials said they hope results can determine the source of contamination and help them draw up a plan to remediate it.

Owner Ken Williams, under the gun to clean up the property, is making a case to the EPA that any contamination present today migrated from off-site, because there has been no activity on the property for 21 years.

In February the EPA will install 14 groundwater monitoring wells, collect subsurface soil samples from the monitoring well borings, and develop the new and existing monitoring wells according to an agreement reached between Williams and the federal agency. All data will be analyzed at the EPA laboratory in Houston.

The tour Monday was guided by Williams, president of Gregg County Refining, who told the group, “We have nothing to hide.”

They spent hours trudging through often-times shoulder-high brush to determine locations for the new test sites, most of which were selected based on topography and the flow of groundwater.…

December 5, 2013

Airline joins battle over biofuels

Source: Houston Chronicle, December 1, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Delta Air Lines, which paid $150 million for a Philadelphia refinery last year in hopes of controlling fuel costs, is hitting turbulence in the form of U.S. biofuel mandates.

Through its year-old refinery unit, Monroe Energy, Delta is mounting its own legal and lobbying challenge to the 8-year-old renewable fuel standard, joining a battle led for years by the oil industry’s top trade groups.

Monroe has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit broadly challenging the renewable fuel requirements the Environmental Protection Agency established for 2013. Refiners have until June 30 to prove they have complied with this year’s biofuel quotas.

The EPA sets the annual targets under the renewable fuel standard, which requires refiners to mix steadily increasing amounts of ethanol and other alternatives into the nation’s gasoline and diesel supplies — up to 36 billion gallons in 2022.

For every gallon of biofuel they incorporate, refiners generate compliance credits called renewable identification numbers. Refiners that don’t meet their annual biofuel quotas can buy the credits instead on an open market.

Because Monroe is a “merchant refiner” that generally sells unblended products to wholesale marketers, it doesn’t produce its own credits by blending in renewable fuels and instead must buy the credits to satisfy the mandate.

As a result, Monroe says in its Oct. 4 federal court petition, it must spend millions of dollars acquiring compliance credits at what it alleges are artificially inflated prices. Although renewable identification numbers were trading below a quarter each last week, prices had climbed above a dollar earlier this year.…

December 4, 2013

City, state seek to shut down petcoke pile

Source: Chicago Tribune, November 23, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

In an online photo gallery of neighborhood picnics and sunrises over Lake Michigan, an image of black dust blotting out the sky galvanized residents of Chicago’s Southeast Side to demand action against companies storing enormous mounds of petroleum coke along the Calumet River.

Spread through social media, the picture taken in late August near 109th Street and Buffalo Avenue helped revive long-standing concerns in the East Side and South Deering neighborhoods about the legacy of pollution from now-shuttered steel mills, blast furnaces and coke ovens that once dominated the area.

Elected officials and regulators eventually took notice of the anger and frustration. In the past month, the owners of three riverfront storage terminals have faced a steady stream of lawsuits, administrative complaints and proposed legal restrictions from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state EPA, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the local alderman and members of Congress.

On Friday, Madigan and Emanuel filed a new lawsuit seeking to shut down the Beemsterboer Slag Co. site at 2900 E. 106th St. until its owners obtain new permits from state regulators. The attorney general and mayor also want Beemsterboer’s uncovered mountains of petcoke and coal removed until the company submits a plan to tamp down the dust.

During an inspection last month, the Illinois EPA discovered that Beemsterboer was only spraying water from a truck to prevent dust from swirling off its uncovered piles. The company had stopped using water cannons and other methods, according to the lawsuit.…

December 2, 2013

Fuel Leak from Towboat in IA

Read here about cleanup of a fuel leak in the Mississippi River in Iowa that resulted from a sunken towboat.…

November 13, 2013

New pollution controls spark complaints in S.C.

Source: The State (SC), November 2, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

State Attorney General Alan Wilson has revived criticism in South Carolina against new controls on greenhouse gas pollution, but his remarks this week drew a sharp response from one of the nation’s leading environmental groups.

John Walke, who tracks air issues for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Friday that Wilson is misleading the public in suggesting that businesses will have an undue burden complying with the greenhouse gas requirements. Walke said the rules will not affect most businesses, but a relatively small number of large factories and power plants — and only if they plan to expand.

This week, Wilson told a Gannett news reporter in Washington that the new federal rules “make it unbearable for businesses to grow their facilities because of the onerous regulations imposed by the” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He was not available Friday for further comment, but a spokesman said Wilson stands by his comments.

Walke, a South Carolina native, said the attorney general is trying to score political points.

“This is ideological grandstanding to blow this case up into something more than it is,” Walke said. “I’m from South Carolina so I recognize politicians’ (motivations).”

Wilson is among a handful of state attorneys general who have joined a lawsuit challenging the rules that would regulate greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.…