2003 Chemical Releases Down Six Percent From Year BeforeWASHINGTON, DC, May 11, 2005 (ENS) - The 2003 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) issued today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that the amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment by reporting facilities continues to decline, with total reductions of 42 percent since 1998 and a six percent decrease from 2002 to 2003.
The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program collects information on the disposal or other releases and other waste management activities for over 650 chemicals from industrial sources in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. The information has been collected annually since 1987.
For 2003, the latest year for which data are available, disposal or other releases of TRI chemicals totaled almost 4.44 billion pounds from over 23,000 U.S. facilities submitting over 91,000 chemical forms.
Overall, when compared to quantities reported for the previous year, 2002, total disposal or other releases of TRI chemicals decreased by 306 million pounds or six percent.
There are increases in mercury, PCBs and dioxin in the 2003 TRI data, the EPA says.
Key findings of the 2003 TRI show:
So, the EPA cautions that data presented in previous years may not be easily comparable with the data in this year's TRI Explorer. "This change results in a more accurate portrayal of the data as it is reported to TRI," the agency says.
The TRI data and background information are available to the public at: http://www.epa.gov/tri/tridata/tri03/index.htm
The 2003 TRI data are now available online in a searchable, sortable format by state, county or zip code at: http://www.epa.gov/triexplorer.
Dupont Agrees to Replace Ozone Depleting RefrigerantNEW JOHNSONVILLE, Tennessee, May 11, 2005 (ENS) - Two federal agencies have reached a $2.5 million settlement with DuPont to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations of the repair, testing, recordkeeping, and reporting regulations for appliances that use ozone depleting substances. The violations occurred at DuPont’s titanium dioxide manufacturing facility located in New Johnsonville.
In the complaint filed simultaneously with the consent decree, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleged that DuPont violated the Clean Air Act after its industrial process refrigeration equipment and comfort cooling appliances leaked more than four tons of the refrigerant hydrochloroflurocarbon-22 (HCFC-22) into the atmosphere.
DuPont failed to perform the required testing, reporting, recordkeeping, and repairs pursuant to enforcing recycling, emissions and reduction requirements involving ozone protection, the two agencies alleged.
The leaks result in the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer which causes an increased exposure to the Sun’s rays. The harmful ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer and damage to wildlife.
The agreement filed May 2 in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee settles all federal claims set forth in the complaint, but the settlement will not be finalized until a 30 day public comment period is complete.
Under the proposed agreement, the Delaware-based DuPont will perform injunctive relief valued at $1.1 million, pay $250,000 in civil penalties, and perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) valued at $1.2 million.
At the New Johnsonville plant, DuPont manufactures titanium dioxide (TiO2) that is used in paints, plastics, inks, paper, and toothpaste to make these materials opaque.
Four industrial process refrigerators, in the form of 1,700 ton chillers, are used in the oxidation process where titanium tetrachloride and superheated oxygen are mixed in a reactor to yield TiO2.
Three of these chillers are currently charged with 5,300 pounds of HCFC-22 refrigerant and one chiller is charged with 4,500 pounds of HCFC-22 refrigerant. DuPont also maintains several comfort cooling appliances that are charged with HCFC-22 refrigerant.
DuPont has agreed to replace or retrofit each 1,700-ton chiller with chillers that use only non-ozone depleting refrigerant. This settlement will keep more than 10 tons of ozone depleting refrigerants out of the environment each year.
“The environmental threat from ozone depleting substances is serious and this action demonstrates EPA’s continued commitment to enforcing the Stratospheric Ozone Protection program,” said Jimmy Palmer for the EPA's Regional Administration in Atlanta.
Dust From World Trade Towers Collapse May Still LingerNEW YORK, New York, May 11, 2005 (ENS) - A draft final plan to sample 150 buildings in lower Manhattan and part of Brooklyn to determine the extent of indoor contamination still remaining from the collapse of World Trade Center (WTC) towers was released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The buildings collapsed when they were struck by airplanes hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001.
Sampling will determine whether levels of contaminants of potential concern exceed thresholds in residential and non-residential buildings where owners and managers volunteer to participate. Results from the sampling program will be used to determine if individual units or whole buildings should be cleaned and whether a broader sampling and cleanup effort is warranted.
E. Timothy Oppelt, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development and interim chairman of the World Trade Center Expert Technical Review Panel, said, “By conducting this sampling program, we can determine the geographic extent of WTC contaminants that may remain and whether or not they are present at levels of concern. If they are, we will clean those units - entire buildings if necessary - that pose a concern.”
The EPA is developing a screening method to identify the presence of WTC collapse materials in sampled dust. It is believed that dust from the collapsed towers contains specific elements that, when found together, are attributable to the WTC, rather than to other sources.
The plan’s subject area of lower Manhattan and a portion of Brooklyn have been divided into five zones or strata; 30 buildings from each stratum will be sampled. Data from each zone will be analyzed to determine the geographic extent of contamination.
The plan reflects the work of EPA and input from the individual members of the World Trade Center Expert Technical Review Panel, and was developed over 14 months in an open process that involved extensive input from labor union representatives, community members and groups, residents and the technical experts hired to advise them.
Samples will be analyzed for lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) asbestos and man-made vitreous fibers - each of these is known as a contaminant of potential concern.
An individual apartment or area of an office building will be offered a cleaning when a measurement of at least one of those contanimants is above a benchmark and the dust conforms to the WTC dust signature.
A whole building will be offered a cleaning when a sufficient number of samples or tested units show measurements above benchmarks and the dust can be associated with the WTC.
The plan is expected to be finalized in mid-summer with implementation to begin shortly thereafter. Work to validate the WTC signature is underway and is also anticipated to be completed at that time. Once the plan is finalized, EPA will immediately begin recruiting buildings for participation.
This effort follows an earlier EPA offer of free cleaning and testing for all residences in lower Manhattan. Through this indoor residential cleanup program, which was announced in May 2002 and ended in the summer of 2003, EPA cleaned and/or tested more than 4,100 homes.
Of these homes, less than one percent had levels of asbestos in the air that exceeded the stringent health-based benchmark, the agency said.
EPA took samples in a subset of more than 250 homes for dioxins and 23 elements, including lead and mercury. In the majority of the 250 homes, the samples showed either no detectable level of these contaminants or a level "below levels of concern," the agency said.
Lead was found at levels above EPA's benchmark in about six percent of the homes tested. Dioxin was found in about 0.5 percent of the homes and mercury in less than 0.4 percent.
The World Trade Center Expert Technical Review Panel was formed by the EPA at the request of James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, both Democrats.
The WTC Expert Technical Review Panel will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, May 24, in the auditorium of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House at One Bowling Green, from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. The meeting is open to the public and two periods for public comment are scheduled. Read the draft plan and find out more about the panel meeting, at: www.epa.gov/wtc/panel.
New York City Adopts Law to Reduce Pesticide UseNEW YORK, New York, May 11, 2005 (ENS) - A law enacted Monday will begin restricting hazardous pesticide use on all New York City land. The new law requires the city to phase out acutely toxic pesticides and those that are known or suspected to cause cancer or developmental disorders by November 2006, and develop a strategy to utilize less toxic methods in the future on city property.
Another measure requires commercial landscapers to give neighbors 48 hours prior notice before spraying pesticides.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "The administration supports the use of safe and effective pest control, and has made significant strides in recent years to decrease the amount of pesticide applied in city owned housing, offices and parks through the use of Integrated Pest Management - also known as IPM. IPM combines improved hygiene, public education and the judicious use of the least toxic materials to reduce pest populations."
"However, New York City's unique built environment and significant pest control challenges require the use of pesticides to control pervasive pest populations. Under these circumstances, we remain committed to limiting human exposure to pesticides to the greatest extent possible," the mayor said.
Environmentalists approved of the new measures. "These bills put New York City at the forefront of the national effort to move pest control in a new direction, away from poisons and towards prevention," said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate for NYPIRG, a New York State environmental and consumer advocacy group.
"Whole generations of children in New York City have been exposed to pesticides that the EPA subsequently banned because they were unsafe. Fortunately, there are safer and smarter ways of controlling pests that are more effective and far less harmful than using toxic chemicals," Haight said.
"The new law recognizes that we do not have to poison people and the environment to manage buildings and landscapes," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a national environmental group based in Washington, DC.
"Numerous jurisdictions across the country have adopted a similar law or policy, including San Francisco and Seattle. New York City stands out among other jurisdictions because of the sheer number of people that will benefit from the new law," said Feldman.
A report released by NYPIRG and Environmental Advocates in 1998 revealed that New York City accounts for more than a quarter of the total pesticide use in New York State. Several successful pilot projects in New York City use non- toxic and least toxic methods to control roaches, mice and rats.
Snowmobile Bridge Plan Divides Adirondack ResidentsRAY BROOK, New York, May 11, 2005 (ENS) - The Adirondack Council today called on the Adirondack Park Agency to declare 12,500 acres east of Carry Falls Reservoir in St. Lawrence County to be state protected wilderness where motorized traffic would eventually be banned.
The entire low elevation boreal biome of the Adirondacks, about 250,000 acres in size, contains plants and animals characteristic of the circumpolar coniferous forest biome known as taiga. The boreal biome of the Adirondacks contains unique and highly important features of both regional and global importance, regional environmentalists say.
“The northern slopes of the Adirondack Park, along north-flowing rivers, contain a rare, low elevation evergreen forest that is otherwise found only in the sub-arctic spruce and fir forests of the Canadian and Siberian taiga,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian Houseal.
“It is home to a host of rare plant and animal species that have no other homes in New York State and whose survival will depend on how we manage these lands. Many of them are already carved up by logging roads and unofficial snowmobile trails. Unless this entire area is classified as a Wilderness or a Primitive Area, the damage to this habitat will only get worse,” Houseal said.
Houseal said the Council has written a letter to the Park Agency pointing out that the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan requires the commissioners to give special protection to sensitive boreal forests.
Some of the animals living in the proposed Boreal Wilderness include moose, snowshoe hares, Canada lynx, spruce grouse, fishers, pine martens, hawk-owls, boreal chickadees, white-throated sparrows and a combination of coyotes and red wolves.
Unusual plant species include carnivorous insect-eaters such as sundews and pitcher plants, as well as brilliant flowering plants such as painted trillium, Clintonia, Canada mayflowers and starflowers. The forest is a dense mix of spruce and fir, with a blanket of moss covering the ground. It contains dozens of tiny ponds and wetlands.
In 1988, the Adirondack Council first proposed creating a 73,000 acre Boreal Wilderness just north of Tupper Lake and east of Carry Falls Reservoir. In 1993, state officials incorporated the Boreal Wilderness proposal into the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan. Since that time, several areas of new Forest Preserve have been purchased by the state.
There are three new areas totaling 12,500 acres under review by the Adirondack Park Agency, which will determine their status. The Adirondack Park Agency will hold public hearings later this month to gather public input on how the lands should be managed. The hearings will include dozens of new state land classifications, most of which the Adirondack Council supports.
“Our greatest concern in this round of reclassifications is that local government officials in St. Lawrence County have expressed a desire to build a snowmobile bridge across the Carry Falls Reservoir into the heart of the proposed Boreal Wilderness Area,” Houseal said.
There are approximately 5,000 sleds registered in St. Lawrence County, according to the St. Lawrence County Snowmobile Association, which has been working for years to establish a safe way to cross the Raquette River and reach lands to the east.
A snowmobiling bridge spanning the Raquette River just south of where it is impounded as Carry Falls Reservoir has long been discussed. But the state does not own lands on the far shore of the river where the bridge would terminate. There is no snowmobile trail system on the eastern side of the river but a system is desired to connect with systems in adjoining Franklin County to the north.
A Carry Falls Bridge Committee has been meeting for months and has obtained federal funding and a tentative survey and design for the bridge despite the ownership problems, lack of full public involvement in the unit management planning process, unclear land classification, and a lack of proper inventories, assessments and management recommendations.
The Association for Protection of the Adirondacks calls this situation, "a prime example of putting the cart ahead of the horse in unit management planning. These facts have led many to rightly characterize and criticize this bridge as the 'bridge to nowhere.'"
“It appears that the county plans to use a federal grant inappropriately to complete this bridge project – a grant which should only be used to improve recreation along existing highways, not this bridge to nowhere," said Houseal. "The Park Agency should not encourage that effort by making motorized access possible across the southern portion of the Carry Falls Reservoir.”
“By classifying all of these lands as Wilderness or Primitive, the Park Agency can take the state’s first administrative step toward creation of the Boreal Wilderness,” Houseal said. “The Park’s growing moose population and a wide range of other rare animals and plants need a place in the Adirondacks where they can be free from the damage inflicted by motorized traffic.”
View the Boreal Wilderness Proposal online at: www.adirondackcouncil.org.
Judge Closes 700 Miles of Eldorado National Forest Off-Road Trails
SACRAMENTO, California, May 11, 2005 (ENS) - A federal judge Monday tentatively ordered the U.S. Forest Service to close over 700 miles of roads and trails on the Eldorado National Forest to off-road vehicle (ORV) use.
Judge Lawrence Karlton announced his tentative order at the conclusion of a remedy hearing in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups challenging the Forest Service’s management of ORVs throughout the forest.
The court’s closure order follows its February determination that the Service adopted its 1990 ORV plan for the Eldorado National Forest in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Judge Karlton gave the Forest Service 30 days to propose a time-schedule for completing the required, forest-wide NEPA analysis for its forest-wide ORV plan.
The plaintiffs, Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation, Center for Biological Diversity and California Wilderness Coalition, and the ORV groups that intervened in the lawsuit, will have 30 days to respond to the Forest Service’s proposal before Judge Karlton makes his order final.
Environmentalists, who had requested an order generally suspending illegal use of ORVs in the Forest pending NEPA compliance, call the closures and the imposition of a fixed timetable for NEPA compliance a good start.
“These non-system routes are largely unplanned, user-created running sores on the landscape that contribute to sediment in our streams, habitat fragmentation and wildlife disturbance,” said Karen Schambach of the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation. “Closing these most damaging trails while requiring the Forest Service to analyze and designate a legally defensible off-road travel plan will have huge benefits for the Forest, both in the short-term, and in the long-term.”
Judge Karlton's ruling marks the second defeat for ORV groups in the case, who initially argued for no closure of their trails while the Forest Service reconsiders its ORV route designations.
The first defeat for the ORV groups came in Judge Karlton’s February ruling, when the judge threw out their claims of standing under NEPA. In dismissing the their proposals, Judge Karlton noted that the Forest Service had ignored NEPA and its own regulations in allowing illegal routes to proliferate across the Forest for the past 15 years, despite undisputed documentation of ongoing ORV violations leading to environmental damage across the forest during that time.
"Once again, when common sense and the law are applied, nature wins and the bad guys lose," said Daniel Patterson, and ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "We support Forest Service efforts to reduce damaging off-roading, and this decision on the Eldorado will help by maintaining access, while curbing off-road excess."
Rick Guidice, spokesman for the California Enduro Riders Association, one of the intervening groups, says the environmentalists' suit "to force a closure of many off-road vehicle and equestrian trails in the Eldorado National Forest goes too far."
"While I agree the agency may have mismanaged its trail program, we are challenging unnecessary closures and restrictions that ignore sound science, the needs of the resource and reasonable recreational access," Guidice said.
Other local, state and national interest groups that intervened in the lawsuit include Friends of the Rubicon, District 36 of the American Motorcyclist's Association, El Dorado Equestrian Trails Foundation, We the People, California Off Road Vehicle Association, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, and the BlueRibbon Coalition.
Undiscovered Oil and Gas Lies Under Alaska's Central North Slope
RESTON, Virginia, May 11, 2005 (ENS) - There is a "significant amount of oil and a large amount of gas" that remains to be discovered in the central part of the Alaska North Slope and the adjacent state offshore area, according to the latest assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released today.
The assessment estimates that there are four billion barrels of oil, 37.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 478 million barrels of natural gas liquids that are undiscovered and technically recoverable. Technically recoverable resources are the amount of petroleum that may be recovered using current technology.
The central North Slope contains most of the commercial oil fields and virtually all of the petroleum producing infrastructure and pipelines in northern Alaska, including the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
To date, 15 billion barrels of oil have been produced from this area, and remaining reserves include seven billion barrels of oil and 35 trillion cubic feet of gas.
For comparison, recent USGS estimates of undiscovered oil in adjacent areas include 10.6 billion barrels of oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and 10.4 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) 1002 area.
Most undiscovered oil accumulations in the central North Slope assessment area are expected to be relatively small in comparison to those already discovered.
The central North Slope lies between the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and ANWR, and extends from the Brooks Range northward to the State-Federal offshore boundary.
The assessment area consists mostly of state and Native lands, covering about 23,000 square miles - about half the size of New York State. The population in the area is limited to Prudhoe Bay and other oil-production facilities.
The natural gas resources in the central North Slope are accessible to existing infrastructure and to the route of the proposed gas pipeline. Although large quantities of gas are estimated to be present, there is "still a lot to learn about the geology of the foothills," the USGS said.
The assessment was based on a comprehensive review of all available geological, geophysical, and geochemical evidence.
For complete Central North Slope energy information see The Central North Slope Oil and Gas Assessment Fact Sheet: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3043/.
The Central North Slope Assessment Play Maps: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1182.
Additional USGS energy information: http://energy.usgs.gov.