AmeriScan: March 18, 2002
WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2002 (ENS) - The U.S. Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Indiana, and the city of Hammond, Indiana today jointly entered into a $3 million settlement of claims against Ferro Corporation for the company's clean air violations.
The company violated federal and state new source review provisions of the Clean Air Act and related state and local ordinances. The new source review program requires certain facilities to obtain permits before they construct new sources of pollution or modify existing facilities that then increase their level of emissions. The facilities must install air pollution control equipment that will reduce the amount of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere.
From at least 1980 until June 2000, Ferro Corporation manufactured Pyro-Chek, a flame retardant, at its Keil Chemical Division in Hammond. While manufacturing Pyro-Chek, Ferro unlawfully emitted tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) each year, primarily in the form of ethylene dichloride, a probable carcinogen.
VOCs are linked with the formation of smog, which is a lung irritant. VOCs and particulate matter contribute to respiratory illnesses, especially in children and the elderly.
In June 2000, Ferro completely shut down and dismantled its Pyro-Chek facility while the rest of Ferro's chemical manufacturing business at the Hammond plant remained in operation. As a result of Ferro's Pyro-Chek shut down, the risk to human health from excess emissions of ethylene dichloride has been abated at its Hammond facility.
"Our joint enforcement efforts with the state and the city of Hammond led to great results in this case," said Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Under this settlement, Ferro is going to pay a significant fine for its air pollution violations, and it must perform a comprehensive audit that will help it comply with all environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act's new source review rules."
Under the agreement, Ferro must pay the federal, state and city governments collectively civil penalties totaling $3 million - $1,050,000 to the United States, $600,000 to the state of Indiana and $1,350,000 to the city of Hammond. Ferro must also hire an independent consultant to conduct an environmental management system audit at its Hammond facility.
Additionally, as a state and city environmental project, the company will finance a $844,000 brownfield cleanup project in the city of Hammond. Known as the Industrial Fuel and Asphalt Site, it consists of 30 acres that housed an oil refinery and an asphalt plant from the 1950s until 1985. The city of Hammond plans to convert the cleaned up IFA Site into an industrial park with a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Ronald Novak, director of the Hammond Department of Environmental Management, said, "Ferro's participation in financing the cleanup of the abandoned IFA Site also makes the settlement reached today a great one. This project will remediate one of the city's brownfield sites and turn it into a viable economic location that will provide jobs and increase the city's tax base."
The consent decree was filed today in the United States District Court in Hammond and is subject to a 30 day public comment period.
Gorbachev Honors Global Green Award WinnersLOS ANGELES, California,
March 18, 2002 (ENS) - Actor Woody Harrelson was among environmental luminaries recognized Friday night at the 6th Annual Green Cross Millennium Awards sponsored by Global Green USA. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, founder and president of Green Cross International, was on hand to salute the environmental leaders.
One of Hollywood's most outspoken advocates for environmental causes, Harrelson received the Entertainment Industry Environmental Leadership Award. In 1997, he climbed the Golden Gate Bridge with seven other activists and hung a banner to bring attention to the clearcutting practices of the logging industry in Headwaters Forests, America's last stand of unprotected old growth redwoods. He works on animal rights issues, sustainability, and promoting healthy alternatives to the current cycle of consumer led environmental degradation. "We need to support the companies that support the earth," said Harrelson.
Homero Aridjis and Betty Ferber, cofounders of the Grupo de los Cien, The Group of 100, based in Mexico City received the International Environmental Leadership Award. It was the Group of 100 that first sounded the alarm about the dangers involved in building the world's largest saltworks at Laguna San Ignacio, the last pristine birthing ground of the gray whale, a project that has since been halted.
They have addressed the problems of air pollution in the Valley of Mexico, water, waste, deforestation, protection of endangered species, and the defense of freedom of speech for the discussion of environmental issues. Ferber says, "Defending the environment is work for Sisyphus."
California State Treasurer Philip Angelides received the Local Environmental Leadership Award. His nationally acclaimed Smart Investments initiative has directed over $7 billion in state infrastructure and community development funding to support environmentally responsible growth patterns.
Jonathan Lash, president of the Washington, DC based environmental think tank World Resources Institute, was honored with the Individual Environmental Achievement Award for his work to reverse the degradation of ecosystems, halt human-caused climate change, and catalyze changes that expand prosperity while reducing the use of materials and the generation of wastes. "The problems of the 21st Century are slower and bigger and less reversible. What we fail to do today is what our children will have no choice about," said Lash. "We may be the last generation in history to have the opportunity to save our future."
Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina received the Corporate Environmental Leadership Award for her commitment to social and environmental responsibility. She has piloted the computer company through initiatives such as World e-Inclusion, a project to close the digital divide, product recycling programs, and the reduction of energy use in HP's products and operations. "We're deeply honored to be receiving this recognition," Fiorina said. "It's a further demonstration of our enduring company values and our long-term commitment to these important programs."
Biodiesel to Fuel Buffalo BusesALBANY, New York,
March 18, 2002 (ENS) - The Buffalo Niagara region of western New York state is about to be fueled with biodisel to supplement the conventional diesel fuel for bus transport and home heating. The state of New York is awarding nearly $400,000 to a company and a transportation agency to introduce biodiesel fuel in the region.
Speaking at the Renewable Diesel Workshop 2002 today in Albany, William Flynn, president of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced a $320,000 award to the NOCO Energy Corporation in Tonawanda, New York for two projects to develop and use biodiesel fuel in the transportation sector.
A separate award of $62,000 to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) will help offset added costs for NOCO biodiesel fuel as compared to conventional diesel fuel for 140 of the 330 NFTA buses for at least a year.
Biodiesel is a renewable, biodegradable fuel that can substitute for petroleum diesel or be blended with it. Biodiesel is made by chemically combining any of several natural oil or fat feedstocks with an alcohol such as ethanol or methanol. Vegetable oils that can be used include soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil, as well as animal fat byproducts such as lard, tallow and used restaurant cooking oil.
With $150,000 from NYSERDA, NOCO will make infrastructure improvements to blend, market and sell biodiesel in the Buffalo Niagara area. NOCO will use the fuel in its fleet of trucks and also provide biodiesel to the Town of Tonawanda for its truck fleet.
"Governor Pataki has placed a great emphasis on improving our energy security by reducing New York State's dependence on imported petroleum as well as using cleaner energy technologies to improve air quality," Flynn said. "Biodiesel blends can help us achieve those goals by stretching existing petroleum supplies while reducing harmful emissions."
"If they gain commercial acceptance," Flynn said, "biodiesel products may also help to stabilize prices for petroleum products, which have spiked in recent years causing economic hardships on residential and commercial petroleum customers alike."
NYSERDA will provide $170,000 to NOCO through its research and development program to evaluate the use of bio-heating fuels in boilers and furnaces. The goal is to identify affordable domestic fuels that can be derived from cooking oils, soaps, or other consumer items that can be blended with Number 2 and Number 6 oils, which are used in home and commercial heating systems. The expectation is that the bio-blended heating fuels will reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions.
NOCO president James Newman said, "As a New York State based, family owned energy company, the biodiesel project creates a unique opportunity for us to diversify our energy products and services while enhancing our commitment to protecting our environment and dependence on oil.
Funding for this effort comes from federal grants provided through the New York State Clean Cities Challenge, which attempts to reduce transportation related emissions by encouraging the use of alternative fuels and vehicles.
Dept. of Energy Awards Biomass and Methane ContractsWASHINGTON, DC,
March 18, 2002 (ENS) - Five energy service companies have been selected to use biomass and alternative methane energy sources to reduce energy use, manage utility costs and promote renewable energy at federal facilities, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Friday.
Biomass includes dedicated energy crops and trees, agricultural crop residues, aquatic plants, wood and wood residues, animal wastes and other organic waste materials. Alternative methane is generated in landfills, wastewater treatment plants and coalbeds.
“In his National Energy Plan President [George W.] Bush directed the federal government, the nation’s largest energy consumer, to lead by example,” Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said. “The contracts the Department of Energy is awarding today encourage innovative, biobased energy technologies to reduce federal energy consumption, without cost to the American taxpayers.
"Our goal is to make bioenergy cost competitive with traditional energy sources,” he said.
The energy service companies selected for the Energy Savings Performance Contract program for biomass and alternative methane include two companies from Baltimore, Maryland - Trigen Development Corporation, and Constellation Energy Source. The other three companies are DTE Biomass Energy Inc. of Ann Arbor, Michigan; Energy Systems Group of Evansville, Indiana; and Systems Engineering and Management Corporation, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Working with DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program, these companies will develop, finance and implement projects that guarantee energy related cost savings at federal facilities using biomass and alternative methane fuels. In return, the companies receive fixed payments derived from the energy cost savings achieved.
Since the capital investment comes from the private sector, the projects do not require government funding. The projects performed under these contracts can be situated at any U.S. federal site throughout the world.
The total value of these contracts is estimated to be up to $200 million, with energy related cost savings in excess of that amount.
FEMP has issued three other Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC) intended to help federal facilities adopt specific emerging technologies that are market ready but not yet widely used.
The other ESPCs focus on solar thermal concentrating systems, high temperature solar devices that generate electricity or provide heat used in boilers and laundries, photovoltaic solar arrays, and geothermal heat pumps.
For more information on the four types of ESPC, log on to: http://www.eren.doe.gov/femp/financing/espc/biomass.asp
Researchers Explore Capture, Storage of Carbon DioxideWASHINGTON, DC,
March 18, 2002 (ENS) - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced research grants to three universities that will study different techniques for reducing the threat of global warming by collecting and storing the most abundant greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2). The technique is called carbon sequestration.
Carbon sequestration is already one of the fastest growing research areas in the Energy Department.
Under these grants, the University of Texas will evaluate a solvent that captures more carbon dioxide while using less energy than other chemical treatments. Researchers is the University's Department of Chemical Engineering will develop an alternative solvent that captures more carbon dioxide while using 25 to 50 percent less energy than conventional methods. Using less energy allows coal plants to produce more electricity while capturing and storing CO2.
The University of Massachusetts will test a method for deep ocean carbon dioxide sequestration by blending liquid carbon dioxide, water, and finely ground limestone into an emulsion that could be pumped into the ocean for long term storage.
Because this emulsion would weigh more than seawater, it would sink to the deep ocean. This would make it possible to sequester CO2 at shallower depths than current directed injection techniques.
The University of Kentucky proposes to displace natural gas from underground shales, which serve as both a source and a trap for natural gas, and use these rocks to store carbon dioxide. This project will analyze CO2 adsorption along with natural gas production, and determine which shales offer the best sequestration potential. At the end of the project, data will be available through publications and on the Internet.
Comment Sought on Irradiation of Imported Fruits, VegetablesWASHINGTON, DC,
March 18, 2002 (ENS) - The federal government has proposed regulations that would allow the use of irradiation on fruits and vegetables imported into the United States to control fruit flies and the mango seed weevil. Irradiation would provide an alternative to current control methods, such as fumigation and cold and heat treatments.
In an amendment to the proposal issued Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would now require the use of radiation indicators on cartons of irradiated items and require additional inspection and monitoring of foreign irradiation facilities.
One technology for irradiation indication produces an invisible fluorescence that can be detected by an inexpensive handheld light-pen reader. Indicators could also be incorporated into a white-on-white bar code that would show a darkened background after irradiation. Bar code information could record lot number or other marketing information that could prove useful in tracing a carton back to its source. As a safeguard against repeated use of the same indicator, they could be applied with one-time-only adhesive.
But the Minnesota based Organic Consumers Association (OCA) objects that attempts to irradiate food abroad and export it to the United States are accelerating.
"Irradiation damages food by breaking up molecules and creating free radicals. The free radicals kill some bacteria, but they also bounce around in the food, damage vitamins and enzymes, and combine with existing chemicals, like pesticides, in the food to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products," the OCA says.
Science has not proved that a long term diet of irradiated foods is safe for human health. The longest human feeding study was 15 weeks, the group warns.
In addition to meats, fruits, vegetables, wheat, wheat flour, eggs in the shell, herbs, spices, dried vegetable seasonings and seeds that will be used for sprouting are approved for irradiation in the United States.
Irradiation critics such as Dr. Samuel Epstein of the Chicago University School of Public Health warn that, "Irrespective of whether radiated by radioactive cobalt pellets or rods, X-ray machines or electron beams, the current permissible radiation dosage is about 200 million times greater than a chest X-ray."
"Irradiation results in major losses of vitamins, particularly A, C, E and the B complex," Dr. Epstein says.
Most irradiated foods do not have to be labeled to the consumer, according to government policy.
APHIS documents published in the Federal Register and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented, are available online at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.asp.
Public comments are welcome by April 15. Please send an original and three copies of postal or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. 98-030-3, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1238. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your comments must be contained in the body of the message; do not send attached files. Include your name and address in the message and use the Docket No. 98-030-3 on the subject line.
Heavy Fines Levied in First Tortugas Reserve ViolationsKEY WEST, Florida,
March 18, 2002 (ENS) - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) attorneys have issued citations totaling $112,000 in the first eight cases against vessels charged with poaching in the protected waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s Tortugas Ecological Reserve.
“We hope the substantial penalties in these cases send the message that NOAA will not stand by while an unscrupulous few raid the waters of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve,” said sanctuary superintendent Billy Causey. “We thank our partners, the United States Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, for their assistance in ensuring that law abiding citizens will see the reserve’s benefits become a reality.”
Four of the eight cases involve shrimp boats observed by a United States Coast Guard cutter in the Tortugas North section of the reserve on January 22 and 24. More than four tons of shrimp were seized from the four boats and sold by authorities
On January 26 and February 1, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers made cases against four vessels fishing for reef fish such as snapper and grouper in the protected area. Over a ton of mixed reef fish were seized from these boats and sold.
“The Tortugas reserve was established through a collaborative process in which commercial fishermen played a major role. The commercial fishing industry has had plenty of time to learn about the regulations,” said NOAA attorney Robin Jung. “These cases should serve as a warning. In the future, penalties will most likely be even higher.”
Regulations in the federal waters of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve took effect March 8, 2001, and rules in state waters followed on July 1, 2001. The entire reserve is closed to fishing and anchoring. Vessels may enter Tortugas North via a free, no-paperwork access permit. Visitors may dive in Tortugas North, and mooring buoys are available.
Vessels may enter Tortugas South only if they maintain continuous transit through the area with fishing gear stowed. Diving and snorkeling are prohibited.
For more information on the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, visit the sanctuary’s website at: http://www.fknms.nos.noaa.gov
EPA Offers $10 Million for Beach HealthWASHINGTON, DC,
March 18, 2002 (ENS) - Ten million dollars in grants is available to eligible states and territories to protect public health at public beaches, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman announced today. The funds are targeted to improve monitoring the quality of water at beaches and notifying the public of beach warnings or closings.
"Overwhelmingly, beaches are one of America's top vacation locations," Whitman said. "With this money we hope to reduce the risk of exposure to disease causing microorganisms in the water while people enjoy our incredible water resources."
State and local monitoring and notification programs often differ across the country and provide varying levels of swimmer protection. These grant funds are designed to insure that the public receives equal protection when it travels to various beaches across the country.
"We are committed to providing assistance to states, tribes and local health agencies to better monitor the quality of water at our beaches and notify the public when there may be a problem," Whitman said.
Available to 35 eligible states and territories, the 2002 grants vary from $150,000 for Alaska to 535,643 for California and $530,893 for Florida. Hawaii is in the middle with $325,149.
Great Lakes states such as Ohio and Illinois were awarded around $250,000 each.
The grants are based on criteria including the length of beach season, the miles of beaches and the number of people using the beaches.
The EPA admits that there is not enough information available now to define the extent of beach pollution throughout the country. A few states have comprehensive beach monitoring programs to test the safety of water for swimming. Many other states have only limited beach monitoring programs, and some states have no monitoring programs linked directly to water safety at swimming beaches.
Americans make a total of 910 million trips to coastal areas each year, spending about $44 billion, the EPA estimates.
Information for states and territories interested in applying for the grants, is available on EPA's beach website at: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/
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