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1999 News Releases

 

Roundup of Recent News Items in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Release Date: 12/08/1999
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ALL STATES

Second Phase of Clean Gas Program to Begin in January; New Program will Help Clear the Air in Smog-Prone Areas

January 2000 marks the start of the next major step toward clean air, as the second phase of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) federal Reformulated Gasoline Program (RFG) begins. The program is required by the Clean Air Act in cities with the worst smog pollution.

Reformulated gasoline is blended to burn cleaner and reduce smog-forming and toxic pollutants. Phase II RFG is already available in many of these areas. About 75 million people are breathing cleaner air because of this cleaner-burning gasoline. Phase I RFG is already used and phase II will be required in 17 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia.,Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia. About 30 percent of all U.S. gasoline is reformulated. Several areas have joined the program voluntarily to help improve their air quality. Phase II RFG will achieve even greater reductions in air pollution than the first phase, which was introduced in January 1995. Compared to conventional gasoline, Phase I RFG reduces smog-forming pollutants by 64,000 tons per year, the equivalent of taking over 10 million vehicles off the road. Phase II RFG will reduce smog pollutants by an additional 41,000 tons per year, for a combined equivalent of taking 16 million vehicles off the road. RFG also substantially reduces emissions of toxic air pollutants such as benzene, a known human carcinogen. A new brochure, APhase II Reformulated Gasoline: The Next Major Step Toward Cleaner Air,@ and a fact sheet explain the program in detail. Additional information is available at: www.epa.gov/oms/rfg.htm . For more information, contact Mary Mears at 212-637-3669.

Emission Standards Set for Large Boats; For First Time Ever, EPA Reduces Nitrogen Oxide and Soot Pollution from Marine Engines

On Nov. 23, EPA finalized the first emissions standards for reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions from marine diesel engines at or over 50 horsepower. The engines are used for propulsion and auxiliary power on commercial fishing boats, tug boats, Great Lakes cargo ships and ocean-going vessels. The standards will be phased in between 2004 and 2007 depending on engine size and will result in a 24 percent reduction in NOx and a 12 percent reduction in PM when fully phased-in. Currently, marine diesel engines account for about 4.5 percent of total mobile source NOx emissions nationwide and about one percent of PM emissions. Because the standards and the design of marine diesel engines are so similar to the already-regulated non-road and locomotive engines, the costs of this rule are not expected to be high. Initial cost-effectiveness values for NOx emission limits will be about $100 per ton. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register soon and will be available at: www.epa.gov/OMSWWW/marine.htm. For more information, contact Mary Mears at 212-637-3669.

New Requirements Added For Some Class V Injection Wells; Rule Will Protect Groundwater from Motor Vehicle Waste

EPA is moving to eliminate or drastically reduce the injection of motor vehicle wastes through disposal wells and large capacity cesspools. Under a final rule signed Nov. 23, installing new motor vehicle waste disposal wells and new large cesspools is prohibited nationwide as of next April. Existing motor vehicle waste disposal wells, which typically receive waste fluids from vehicle maintenance and repair, will be phased out through January 2007. A waiver from the requirements and permits for motor vehicle waste wells may be obtained in some rare cases. Existing cesspools will be phasedout nationwide by April 2005. Injection wells are regulated by EPA and the states through the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program under the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect underground sources of drinking water from contamination. Eighty-nine percent of public water systems in the United States use ground water as a drinking water source. Injection wells are divided into five classes for regulatory purposes. Motor vehicle disposal wells and large capacity cesspools are class V injection wells, which are typically shallow disposal systems that are used to place a variety of fluids below the land surface. Some class V wells are technologically advanced wastewater disposal systems used by industry, but most are "low-tech" shallow wells, providing little or no protection against possible ground water contamination. EPA estimates that there are altogether more than 600,000 class V injection wells currently in the United States. They are located in every state, especially in unsewered areas where the population is also likely to depend on ground water for its drinking water. Other types of class V wells include storm water drainage wells, aquifer remediation wells and large capacity septic systems. For additional information on the rule and on underground injection wells, the public can consult EPA's drinking water web site at: www.epa.gov/safewater or call EPA's drinking water hotline at 1-800-426-4791. For technical information within EPA Region 2, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, contact John Kushwara at 212-637-3766. The media should contact Mary Mears at 212-637-3669.

NEW YORK STATE

Wind Tunnel Testing Facility in Buffalo Faces PCB Charges by EPA

EPA has charged the Buffalo, New York-based wind tunnel research and testing facility Calspan SRL Corporation with five counts of mismanaging PCBs at its facility at 4455 Genesee Street. EPA is seeking a $54,200 penalty from the company for the infractions. The company has several machines at its facility that contain PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls. PCBs are synthetic organic chemicals that were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications before they were banned by law in 1976 after it was found that they have serious ecological and human health effects. EPA is charging that: Calspan used an old vacuum pump containing PCB fluids even though the use of the chemical in this kind of machine is not permitted; that the company did not perform required periodic inspections of an electrical transformer containing PCB fluids to make sure the transformer was not leaking; and that Calspan shipped 300 gallons of PCB-containing waste oil off-site to be disposed-of without identifying the waste as containing PCBs on a manifest document. These and other charges against Calspan constitute violations of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, which banned new production of PCBs, and, because PCBs still exist in our environment from older machinery and equipment, instituted requirements for dealing with them safely and responsibly, including their proper handling, manifesting and disposal. Calspan SRL Corporation is an operation of Veridian Corporation, an information and advanced technology company with approximately 4,500 employees. For more information, contact Nina Habib Spencer (212) 637-3670.

EPA Charges Walton Manufacturer with Haz Waste Violations - Seeks $52,250

EPA has charged Walton, New York-based metal parts manufacturer Northeast Fabricators with four counts of violating federal law and New York state hazardous waste regulations, and is seeking a $52,250 penalty from the company. EPA inspected the Northeast facility, located at 30-35 William Street, in August 1998. At that time, EPA observed that: paints containing solvents had been released into the air and onto the ground outside the facility from a booth in which metal is spray-painted; nine drums holding hazardous waste lacked labels clearly stating their contents and the date they were first filled with chemicals; some hazardous waste drums were dented, corroded or open; employees had not received adequate health, safety and hazardous waste management training; and that Northeast had not posted emergency numbers and a plant floor plan indicating the location of fire extinguishers and spill control material. These and other occurrences at the Northeast facility violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which governs hazardous waste management, and similar New York state environmental regulations. EPA considers the violations of particular concern because the Northeast facility is located within the Catskill/Delaware watershed, which provides drinking water for residents of New York City and parts of Westchester, Putnam and Ulster counties. Discussions with the company about EPA's charges are set to begin shortly. At the time of the inspection, Northeast Fabricators had approximately 45 employees and reported sales in 1997 of approximately $3.5 million. For more information, contact Nina Habib Spencer at (212) 637-3670

For more information contact:

Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3675 FAX: 212-637-4445