Pacific Southwest, Region 9
Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations
2010 Region 9 Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results
The goal of any EPA compliance assurance activity, whether technical assistance or formal enforcement, is to bring a facility into compliance with all applicable environmental requirements as quickly as possible. Facing the challenge of tighter budgets and increasing environmental challenges, Region 9 leveraged all available tools and resources, and worked with our state, tribal and local regulatory partners to identify and address the highest priority environmental compliance issues. Through efforts such as the Enforcement Collaborative with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and CalEPA, the EPA Region9-Navajo Nation EPA UST Field Citation Pilot, the use of tools like the Social Vulnerability Index and the Enforcement Targeting Tool for assessing and prioritizing our focus on public drinking water systems, Region 9 worked to ensure federal presence and responsiveness to high priority issues and geographic areas and in order to meet our responsibility to protect public health and the environment.
Apache Nitrogen Products
In December 2009, Apache Nitrogen Products, Inc. entered into a consent decree with EPA and the Department of Justice to continue addressing contamination at its Apache Powder Superfund Site near St. David, AZ. The company removed contaminated soils from the site and continues to conduct long-term ground water clean-up and monitoring. The future work will cost up to $5 million and the company has agreed to pay back $1.2 million for the EPA’s past response costs as part of the agreement. Apache is using renewable energy (solar panels to pump water and run monitoring equipment) and has constructed a “green” wetlands system to treat over 7.6 million cubic yards of nitrate-contaminated groundwater. Apache Powder Superfund Site, near St. David, AZ. In addition to the Superfund remedy, Apache has implemented additional sustainability efforts by installing a solar canopy to power its administrative buildings.
Lennar Communities Development, Inc.
In October 2009, Lennar Communities Development, Inc reached a settlement with EPA for violations of the Clean Air Act for particulates (dust) from construction activities at five of the company’s residential construction sites in Maricopa County. Lennar agreed to pay a penalty of $182,519 and to invest $144,094 in a supplemental environmental project (SEP). The SEP will reduce particulate pollution from entering the air by retrofitting City of Phoenix-owned vehicles and equipment with particulate emission control devices. The project will help alleviate respiratory and air quality problems associated with diesel exhaust. In Maricopa County, particulate matter , or wind blown dust from construction and home development sites, road building activities, unpaved parking lots and roads, disturbed vacant lands, and even paved roads, seriously affects air quality and local health.
East Bay Municipal Utility District Satellite Wastewater Collection Systems
EPA issued Administrative Orders (AOs) to seven San Francisco Bay Area municipal sewage systems in the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) requiring them to address chronic sewage spills and to reduce the amount of inflow and infiltration that enters their sewage collection system pipes. The seven satellite collection systems are the cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont, and the Stege Sanitary District. Under the orders, the satellites will implement asset management programs, adopt ordinances requiring repair and replacement of homeowners’ sewer laterals, monitor sewage flows and develop plans to repair and replace aging sewer mains. The orders are part of a long range agreement with EBMUD to eliminate overflows of partially treated sewage from the District’s three wet weather overflow facilities to San Francisco Bay.
McClellan Air Force Base Privatization
EPA Region 9 signed an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) for the second privatized cleanup of the former McClellan Air Force Base Superfund Site in Sacramento County. The AOC is a part of the early transfer with privatized cleanup, which involved the transfer of contaminated property owned by the Air Force to Sacramento County. Sacramento County then transferred the 560-acre property to McClellan Business Park, LLC, a local developer. As part of the agreements for early transfer between EPA, the Air Force, the County, and the developer, the Air Force has provided over $17 million to Sacramento County and McClellan Business Park to clean up the Property. Region 9 will direct and oversee all of the cleanup work performed by McClellan Business Park at the Property under the AOC. As remediation is completed on various areas of the Property, McClellan Business Park will be able to redevelop those areas more quickly for reuse and the community will benefit from cleanup of a major portion of this Superfund Site.
Pacific Pipeline Systems LLP
In January, 2010, Pacific Pipeline Systems LLP, an oil transport company based in Long Beach, agreed to pay a $1.3 million civil penalty and discontinue the use of a section of pipeline that runs through an unstable section of the Tehachapi Mountains. The agreement resolves the company’s violation of EPA’s Clean Water Act for the discharge of crude oil into Pyramid Lake, located about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. In March 2005, a landslide caused a portion of Pacific Pipeline Systems’ Line 63, an underground pipeline that runs from Bakersfield, Calif., to Los Angeles to fail. The resulting pipeline break discharged approximately 3,393 barrels of oil, much of which flowed into Pyramid Lake, which is part of the California Aqueduct and is a potential drinking water supply. Water served through the public water system was not impaired by the discharge.
99 Cents Only Stores
On June 24, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an Enforcement Action against 99 Cents Only Stores for the sale and distribution of unregistered and misbranded pesticides in several of their store locations in Arizona and California, a violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The 99 Cents Only Stores must pay a penalty of $409,490 for selling two unregistered pesticides, “Bref Limpieza y Desinfeccion Total” and “Farmer’s Secret Berry & Produce Cleaner,” and a misbranded pesticide, “PIC Boric Acid Roach Killer II.” Products that make surface disinfection or sanitizer claims are considered pesticides and must be registered under federal law. The third product, PIC Boric Acid Roach Killer II, had labels on eleven containers that were either inside out or upside down making them difficult to read.
“The North Face” Parent Company, “Saniguard” Marketers, and Califone
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took enforcement against three California companies (and a New Jersey firm) for selling products with unsubstantiated antimicrobial claims, in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). San Leandro – based VF Outdoor, Inc., will pay $207,500 for claims that over 60 shoe products sold under the label “North Face” provide “antimicrobial protection” and inhibit the growth of “disease-causing bacteria.” San Fernando- based Califone International, Inc., was fined $220,000 over unproven health claims that the headphones sold to schools and other institutions “prevent the spread of bacteria, mold and mildew for student protection.” Additionally, Component Hardware Group, Inc., of Lakewood, N.J., and John S. Dull Associates, Inc. (d/b/a Food Service Parts in Garden Grove, Calif.), were fined $98,300 following an inspection conducted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation which revealed that the companies were selling and distributing Sanigard products with unverified claims that they control growth of bacteria and contain antimicrobial technology that controls growth of E. coli, salmonella, staph, and pseudomonas on treated surfaces. The Saniguard products marketed to hospitals and other industries include faucets, spigots, handles, light switch and socket covers, door push and pull plates, and food service hardware.
The link to EPA’s press release is:
“The North Face” Parent Company, “Saniguard” Marketers, and Califone Fined More Than $500,000 Over Antimicrobial Claims (CA)
City & County of Honolulu
A multi-billion dollar settlement was reached with the City and County of Honolulu to address its aging wastewater collection and treatment systems. The agreement calls for aggressive actions to upgrade the city’s sewage system, and sets out a long term schedule for construction of secondary treatment at its Sand Island and Honolulu plants. The cost of this work is estimated to exceed $3.5 billion. In addition, the city will be paying a fine of $1.6 million to resolve violations of the federal Clean Water Act for prior spills into the ocean. This settlement will significantly reduce both the public health risk caused by exposure to pathogens in raw sewage and the amount of harmful pollutants entering Honolulu's vibrant marine environment.
Enforcement agreements further RCRA cleanups at two Region 9 corrective action sites in FY2010
Region 9 entered enforcement agreements at two RCRA corrective action sites to move cleanup forward and help achieve the Agency's 2020 goals this past year. Cleanup had stalled at the former Chem-Wood Treatment Company, Inc. facility, in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, after the property was sold and the operator became insolvent. Region 9 successfully negotiated an order on consent with the former owner and a new buyer, Weston Solutions, Inc. to implement, operate, and maintain the corrective actions required in EPA’s Final Remedy for the facility. Pursuant to a risk transfer agreement, the former owner, the Estate of James Campbell, is paying Weston Solutions, Inc. to perform the corrective actions, after which Weston Solutions, Inc. intends to redevelop the property. EPA estimates the corrective action work will cost $2.8 million. At another RCRA facility, the former Shell Guam, Inc., petroleum terminal facility in Guam, the Territory of Guam had been conducting oversight of a voluntary cleanup by Shell since 1999. When Shell announced plans to sell the facility, however, Region 9 issued a unilateral corrective action order to ensure that cleanup would continue, and subsequently entered into an agreement that will require that Shell continue cleanup at the 200-acre facility, The Facility includes an inactive refinery process area; a tank farm with aboveground storage tanks; impounding basins; and an inactive hazardous waste land treatment facility. Groundwater underlying the Facility is contaminated with petroleum, benzene, toluene, and other petroleum constituents and additives.
Implementing the Large Capacity Cesspool Ban in Hawaii
has been a priority for Region 9’s Ground Water Office since 2000. Our efforts stem from EPA’s 1999 Underground Injection Control (“UIC”) regulations that required all existing Large Capacity Cesspools (“LCCs”) to be closed by April 5, 2005. EPA banned LCCs because they allow raw sewage to be discharged into the ground and are a public health and environmental concern. In FY10, Region 9 issued four new administrative complaints and filed four final orders for a total of about $220K in penalties; we also negotiated a $325K Supplemental Environmental Project with a respondent who agreed to install a state of the art treatment system to replace his LCC. These cases addressed about 50 LCCs still operating in violation of the ban. To date, EPA has identified almost 3,200 LCCs in Hawaii, documented the closure of more than 2,000 of these LCCs, and we continue to track the closure of another 800 LCCs under formal and informal compliance schedules.
- 06/14/2010 U.S. EPA finalizes enforcement cases against County of Hawaii and Johnson Resort Properties for cesspool violations (HI)
- 04/07/2010 U.S. EPA issues penalties to Gay and Robinson and Kula Lodge and Restaurant for failing to close cesspools (HI)
US Ecology Nevada, Inc.
Region 9 settled a case against the commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility located on the outskirts of Beatty, Nevada. In addition to hazardous wastes, the US Ecology facility is also permitted for the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) wastes. During EPA inspections conducted in 2007 and 2008 as part of EPA’s responsibility to ensure that permitted facilities are operating in compliance with the regulations and their permit, numerous significant issues were identified, including operating and record keeping violations associated with a thermal treatment unit, releases of hazardous wastes and PCBs, cracks in secondary containment systems, and PCB reporting violations. In early 2010, US Ecology dismantled the thermal treatment unit which EPA identified as having significant operating and record keeping issues. Additionally, US Ecology cleaned up all the areas where PCB contamination was identified. As a result of this settlement US Ecology paid a fine of almost $500,000.
Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiaries in Guam and CNMI agree to $2.4 million fine for air pollution violations
Two subsidiaries of Exxon Mobil Corporation – Mobil Oil Guam, Inc. and Mobil Oil Mariana Islands, Inc. – have agreed to pay $2.4 million for allegedly violating the federal Clean Air Act by failing to control emissions from their facilities. As part of the settlement, both subsidiaries have agreed to install air pollution controls and monitors, submit required reports, and obtain appropriate permits. The two subsidiaries estimate that they will spend more than $15 million to bring the two bulk gasoline terminals into compliance with the Clean Air Act, reducing their yearly discharge of volatile organic compounds by close to 400 tons.
U.S. EPA settlements require investigation of uranium contamination on Southwestern tribal lands
EPA Region 9 entered into two enforcement actions relating to uranium contamination on tribal lands, both of which contribute towards cleaning up uranium contamination at the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation. In the settlement with Rio Algom Mining LLC, a subsidiary of Canadian corporation BHP Billiton, the company has agreed to control releases of radium from the Quivira Mine Site, near Gallup, N.M. In addition, the company will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the extent and levels of contamination at the site, which is located within the Navajo Nation. Under the terms of a separate settlement, the US Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), will begin a comprehensive investigation of the levels of uranium and other contaminants in the waste, soils and groundwater at the Tuba City Dump Site in Arizona on the Hopi Reservation. BIA will also evaluate the feasibility of a range of cleanup actions. Together, these settlements require over $2.5 million in work to be performed as part of EPA's coordinated plan to address the toxic legacy of uranium mining in the Region
Conclusion of 2-Year Pilot with Navajo Nation EPA for the UST Compliance & Enforcement Program
In FY10, Region 9 and the Navajo Nation EPA concluded a 2-year Underground Storage Tank (UST) Field Citation Pilot project under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). As part of this pilot project, EPA issued Federal UST inspector credentials to two Navajo Nation EPA inspectors, enabling the tribal inspectors to conduct federal inspections on behalf of EPA. The Pilot proved successful, expanding EPA’s ability to effectively increase the number and frequency of inspections at regulated facilities, primarily remotely located gas stations, and to improve the compliance rates at these businesses, both while reducing the costs to EPA in travel and personnel time. Over the course of the Pilot, EPA and NNEPA saw an increase of compliance rates at UST facilities from 47% in 2008 to over 75% by the end of FY 2010. Because NNEPA inspectors are local, they were able to quickly respond to a wide range of issues and were able to represent EPA at facilities in remote locations, and the ability of the NNEPA staff to write field citations proved to be a critical component in establishing a strong enforcement presence throughout the regulated community.