News

Farmers in Stanislaus County encouraged to drop off unwanted pesticides at free event on Oct. 30 in Modesto

SAN FRANCISCO – Farmers in Stanislaus County, Calif. can bring their obsolete and unwanted pesticides to the Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office at a free pesticides collection event onThursday October 30, 2014. The event, which is by appointment only, will be held 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, Calif.

Funded by a $100,000 federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the agricultural commissioner is hosting the 1-day event to help farmers safely dispose of unwanted pesticides. The commissioner invited more than 2,500 permitted growers to participate in the event and expects more than 100 registered growers will safely dispose of over 2,000 gallons and 7,000 pounds of unwanted pesticides.

EPA’s pesticides program funds pesticides collection events throughout the Pacific Southwest that have been extremely successful in collecting and disposing of obsolete or unwanted pesticides from growers. A past collection event on the Arizona-Mexico border collected 138,000 pounds and 500 gallons of waste pesticides. Pesticides, when not properly stored, can break down and materials can leak and be released to the environment. Local collection events provide an opportunity for growers to reduce their risk of potential spills or leaks from degrading pesticides.

For more information on the event, contact: Kamaljit Bagri, Stanislaus County Deputy Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer 209-525-4730

Learn more about safe pesticides collection and disposal at: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ regulating/storage.htm

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U.S. EPA acts to protect children from lead-based paint hazards in eight Northern Calif. communities

Untrained and uncertified companies renovating homes and schools can put children at risk

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements with construction companies in Calif. that were not EPA-certified to handle lead-based paint safely before or during renovations in older housing and schools. The lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting rule requires companies to be properly trained and certified before working in pre-1978 homes and schools. The rule is designed to prevent children from coming into contact with hazardous lead dust.

“More than half a million children in America have blood lead levels high enough to cause learning disabilities and behavior problems,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Lead-based paint remains in tens of millions of homes and is the main source of lead exposure for children, so contractors have to be trained and certified to ensure renovations are done safely.”

EPA recently settled with the following nine companies for failing to be certified before advertising, bidding on, or performing renovation and repair projects in older housing and schools. Each company was ordered to pay a $1,000 civil penalty and, in most cases, required to complete training and obtain certification:

— A & D Construction Inc., Hayward

— AB Builders, Pleasant Hill

— CF Contracting, Fairfax

— Cogent Construction & Consulting Inc., San Francisco

— EF Brett & Company Inc., San Francisco

— Nema Construction, Albany

— Regency Construction Company Inc., Carmel Valley

— Southland Construction Management Inc., Pleasanton

— Welliver Construction, Eureka

EPA enforces the federal Toxic Substances Control Act and its Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule to protect children from exposure to lead-based paint hazards from renovation and repair activities that can create hazardous lead dust when surfaces with lead-based paint are disturbed. Contractors who disturb painted surfaces in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities must be trained and certified, provide educational materials to residents, and follow safe work practices.  The U.S. banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978 but EPA estimates that more than 37 million older homes in the U. S. still have lead-based paint.

Nationwide, more than 100,000 contractors have completed the process to become certified. A single day of training is required to learn about the lead-safe work practices, but many companies continue to operate without training or certification and without regard for the potential harm to children. EPA continues to pursue enforcement against companies that are not certified and uses information from the public to help identify violators.

Lead exposure is more dangerous to children than adults because children’s growing bodies absorb more lead, and their brain and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead, which include: behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and damage to the brain and nervous system. Children under six years old are at most risk. Currently, no level of lead in blood has been identified as safe for children.

During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 19-25, EPA hopes to show parents, schools, contractors and others how to reduce a child’s exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects.

More information on National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: http://www2.epa.gov/lead

Find a certified contractor in your area: http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/ searchrrp_firm.htm

Notify EPA about lead paint violations in Calif.: http://www.epa.gov/region9/ lead/tips-complaints.html

CONTACT: Suzanne Skadowski, 415-972-3165, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

RELEASE DATE: October 22, 2014


EPA settles with Bakersfield, Calif., steel company to ensure safe handling of hazardous waste

LOS ANGELES—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined Kern Steel Fabrication, Inc. $57,100 for improper management of hazardous waste generated at its 627 Williams Street facility in Bakersfield, Calif.

During a 2012 investigation, EPA found that the facility failed to properly label about 30 of its containers holding hazardous wastes such as waste paint, fluorescent light lamps, used oil and batteries. EPA also found that many of the containers were not properly closed. Proper containerization of hazardous waste is required to minimize the possibility of a fire or sudden release of hazardous materials.

The facility also failed to characterize some of the waste generated onsite as hazardous or not hazardous and did not have an adequate contingency plan designed to protect human health or the environment in the event of any fires, explosions or any unplanned release of hazards into the environment.

Finally, EPA found that the facility did not submit a timely Biennial Report for 2011 and 2013. These reports are required for facilities that generate a minimum of 2,200 lbs of hazardous waste per month.

The facility, located in a commercial-industrial area of Bakersfield, about three blocks from residential neighborhoods, is a structural steel fabricator that constructs aircraft ground support maintenance platforms, work stands, and docking stations, among other products.

Today’s settlement is part of the EPA Region 9’s efforts to work together with our federal, state, and local partners to reduce pollution from facilities that manage, store, or handle large volumes of hazardous waste. The Agency’s goal is to reduce the risk to human health and the environment for the four million residents living in the San Joaquin Valley by ensuring wastes from these types of facilities are properly managed.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) authorizes EPA to oversee the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. Under RCRA, hazardous waste must be stored, handled and disposed of using measures that safeguard public health and the environment.

For more information on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/ enforcement/waste-chemical- and-cleanup-enforcement#waste


EPA Awards $785,000 to Navajo Nation for Leaking Underground Storage Tank Cleanup, Compliance

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $465,000 to the Navajo Nation to oversee the cleanup of an estimated 58 leaking underground storage tanks that store petroleum or hazardous substances throughout the reservation. The agency is also providing $320,000 for compliance activities reservation-wide.

Over the next 5 years, the EPA anticipates awarding $3.8 million to the Navajo Nation for this important work. This is the first time the agency has committed to funding these programs upfront for a multi-year period.

“Since the program’s start in 2000, EPA has helped fund the cleanup of 86 abandoned sites contaminated by petroleum products, mostly gas stations,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goals are to reduce the number of leaking tanks, and hold tank owners accountable for any pollution they do cause.”

The cleanup funds will allow the Navajo Nation EPA to oversee the assessment and cleanup at 58 leaking underground storage tank sites in Tuba City, Shiprock, Lupton, Chinle, and several old abandoned trading posts across the Navajo Nation.  Underground storage tank owners and operators are responsible for their tanks and need to maintain them in good condition, but in the event of leaks, must pay for their cleanup.

The compliance activities funds will be used to conduct tank inspections at approximately 100 Navajo facilities to ensure compliance with federal and tribal standards. These funds will also be used to provide training to operators to ensure there are no leaks from their tanks, and for staff to recognize and respond to release incidents.

Through the work of the underground storage tank program, the EPA and the Navajo Nation EPA have brought the compliance rate of underground tank operations to close to the national rate of 68 percent. EPA funding has also resulted in Navajo-specific regulations and petroleum cleanup standards which incorporate the Navajo philosophy of sacredness of the earth and all its resources. The Navajo Nation Underground Storage Tank Act was passed by the Navajo Nation Council on October 29, 1998. The Act requires the removal of all underground storage tanks that do not comply with the standards.

In 1986, Congress created the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund to address petroleum releases from federally regulated underground storage tanks. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act expanded eligible uses of the Trust Fund to include certain leak prevention activities. The Trust Fund provides money to: oversee cleanups; enforce cleanups by recalcitrant parties; pay for cleanups at sites where the owner or operator is unknown, or unable to respond, or which require emergency action; and conduct inspections and other release prevention activities. Left unattended, releases from underground tanks can contaminate soil, groundwater, surface water, and indoor air.

For more information, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/ waste/ust/

Media Contact:  Margot Perez-Sullivan, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov


How Telematics Has Completely Revolutionized the Management of Fleet Vehicles

via Yahoo Finance

Telematics has revolutionized the management of fleet vehicles, reducing wear and tear and the amount of time it takes to roll up to a customer’s door. A glance at UPS shows how they do it better than anyone, and how you can streamline the operation of your own company vehicles.

If you want to understand the importance of telematics tracking software, consider that it helped UPS–the world’s largest private shipper and one of the largest fleet operators, with more than 100,000 vehicles logging 3 billion miles per year–cut its preventative maintenance schedule in half over the last five years.

That’s right: UPS went from 240,000 preventative maintenance inspections per year to 120,000. What’s especially impressive is that the company did this while increasing the reliability of its vehicles.

Director of automotive engineering Dale Spencer, who oversees the UPS fleet, explains…. READ MORE


EPA Honors the Winners of the 19th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

Winning technologies tackle climate change and promote energy efficiency

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn climate risk into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.

“From academia to business, we congratulate those who bring green solutions and help solve critical environmental problems,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These innovations reduce energy, chemicals and water waste while cutting manufacturing costs, and sparking investments.  Ultimately, these chemicals and products are safer for people’s health and the environment. We will continue to work with the 2014 winners as their technologies are adopted in the marketplace.”

The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are presented in five categories: academic, small business, greener synthetic pathways, greener reaction conditions and designing greener chemicals. The awardees will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

In the small business category:

Amyris Inc. of Emeryville, California, is being recognized for engineering yeast to make a renewable fuel replacement for petroleum diesel. Making and burning this bus and truck fuel could reduce 82 percent of green-house gas emissions as compared to petroleum diesel. Since carbon pollution increases our costs in health care and other impacts, this technology could save tens of thousands of dollars each year.

In the academic category:

Professor Shannon Stahl, University of Wisconsin-Madison, is being recognized for discovering a way to safely and efficiently use oxygen instead of hazardous chemicals in a step commonly used to make medicine.  If brought to market, these methods could have a big impact on the industry, reducing chemicals and waste, and saving companies time and money.

In the “greener reaction conditions, designing greener chemicals, and greener synthetic pathways” categories:

Solazyme, Inc., of South San Francisco, California, is being recognized for developing novel oils from sugar and engineered algae in a way that significantly reduces the environmental effects that typically occur in producing and processing petroleum-based or plant-based oils. Soaps, laundry detergents, food products, fuels, and industrial products can now be produced with greatly reduced energy, water and waste, saving money. The company’s palm-oil equivalent can help reduce deforestation and greenhouse gases that can occur from cultivation of palm oil.

QD Vision, Inc. of Lexington, Massachusetts, for developing a process to make more efficient LED lighting and displays for TVs and mobile devices with less environmental impacts and waste. The new LED lighting material may make it possible to save 36 percent of your T.V. energy costs. Using their technology in just 10 percent of flat-screen TVs can save 600 million kilowatt-hours worldwide every year. That is enough to provide electricity for 50,000 homes for one year. Even better, producing these materials avoids using an estimated 40,000 gallons of solvents per year.  This technology brings massive energy savings and is good for the planet with reduced carbon and heavy metals emissions, and less use of toxic chemicals.

The Solberg Company of Green Bay, Wisconsin, for developing a safer foam using surfactants and sugars that can fight fires better than traditional foams that rely on persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals. One of the world’s largest oil and gas companies will be using this foam to fight fuel fires and spills. The product works better and is safer – a win-win for industry and protecting our health and the environment.

During the 19 years of the program, EPA has received more than 1,500 nominations and presented awards to 98 technologies. Winning technologies over the lifetime of the program are responsible for reducing the use or generation of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air.

EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Program award winners have significantly reduced the hazards associated with designing, manufacturing, and using chemicals. An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged submissions from among scores of nominated technologies and made recommendations to EPA for the 2014 winners.

The 2014 awards event will be held in conjunction with an industry partners’ roundtable.

More information: http://www2.epa.gov/green-chemistry .


New Report: U.S. Fuel Economy Reaches All-Time High

Posted: October 8, 2014

Fuel economy gains for new vehicles continue under President Obama’s Clean Car Program

WASHINGTON – New vehicles achieved an all-time-high fuel economy in 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg) ‑– a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years. The average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 grams per mile in model year 2013.

EPA’s annual “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2014” report tracks average fuel economy of new cars and SUVs sold in the United States. The report also ranks automakers’ achievements in model year 2013.
Read more


EPA Increases Access to Chemical Information

Posted: October 7, 2014

Agency seeks input on improvements

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted additional data and added new functions to ChemView, EPA’s publicly-accessible, one-stop online tool to find information for chemicals regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

“In the absence of TSCA reform, EPA is moving ahead to improve access to chemical health and safety information, and increase the dialogue to help the public choose safer ingredients used in everyday products,” said James Jones, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The additional data along with a customer satisfaction survey will make chemical information more readily available for decision-makers and consumers.”

The enhanced data functions include: improving the display and content for the Chemical Data Reporting information, adding a new link that displays the pollution prevention information generated as part of the Toxics Release Inventory program, and launching an administrative tool that will save EPA resources by streamlining the loading of future information. Read more


October 5-11 is Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week is a great time to promote best burn tips to help keep homes warm and healthier. It’s also a great opportunity to share the health and safety benefits of replacing an old wood stove with cleaner, more efficient home heating.

Approximately 10 million wood stoves are currently in use in the United States, and 65 percent of them are older, inefficient, conventional stoves. Just 20 old, non-EPA certified wood stoves can emit more than 1 ton of fine particle pollution (PM2.5) into your area during the cold months of the year.

Smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces contain a mixture of harmful gases and small particles. Breathing these small particles can cause asthma attacks and severe bronchitis, aggravate heart and lung disease, and may increase the likelihood of respiratory illnesses.

EPA Burn Wise offers the following tools to encourage best burn tips and to help improve the air and health of your community. To help reduce wood smoke in your area, share these tools with local media, partners and others to promote on social media, websites and newsletters.

Additional Health Resources and Tools: http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/kit.html

More Video and Radio PSAs: http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/psas.html

Contact Herrington.leigh@epa.gov to order free Burn Wise brochures and posters.

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@epaburnwise on Twitter: https://twitter.com/epaburnwise