EPA issues alert on minimizing chemical releases during hurricanes

ATLANTA — May 26, 2016 — With the recent start of hurricane season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Hazardous Weather Release Prevention and Reporting alert to help minimize chemical releases.

The alert is designed to increase awareness among industrial facility operators about their obligation to operate facilities safely and report chemical releases in a timely manner.

For complex industrial processes, shutdown operations require special care beyond normal operations, the EPA said. Process shutdown often involves numerous simultaneous activities and rapidly changing process conditions. Normally automated systems or process controls may be bypassed, disconnected, or under manual control.

The agency also highlighted the hazards associated with the additional human/process interactions required during shutdown operations, as process parameters may be in unusual ranges and operators may have less experience controlling plant conditions during a shutdown.

Brownfields grants announced for several states total more than $55M

WASHINGTON — May 20, 2016 — One-hundred and thirty-one communities across the U.S. will benefit from a total of $55.2 million that will fund 218 new grant investments in underserved and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The EPA’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup grants support neighborhoods that need environmental cleanup and new jobs the most. They are part of the EPA’s Brownfields Program, which “strives to expand the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses.”

According to research, residential property values increased between 5 and 15 percent when located near cleaned-up Brownfields sites. Another analysis showed that local governments saw about $29 to $97 million in additional tax revenue one year after cleanup.

View the entire list of selected grant projects here.

College students receive EPA fellowships to study environmental science

ATLANTA — May 20, 2016 — Thirty-four college students across 19 states representing 28 colleges and universities will study alongside EPA engineers and scientists as part of the the Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowship program.

The program seeks to inspired the next generation of environmental scientists and engineers by providing them with opportunities to gain hands-on experience. Each student can receive up to $50,000 for up to two years and a summer internship at an EPA facility.

You can find the entire list of awardees here.

EPA settles Clean Water Act allegations with Missouri companies

LENEXA, Kan. — May 31, 2016 — Organic Resource Management Inc. (ORMI) and its parent company, St. Louis Composting Inc. agreed to settle Clean Water Act violation allegations with the EPA. The companies will pay a $24,000 cash penalty, spend $36,000 to perform a Supplemental Environmental Project and hire a consultant to conduct compliance audits at their other facilities.

EPA inspectors found an ORMI facility discharged pollutants exceeding its permit into a tributary of Coldwater Creek, which is on Missouri’s list of impaired waters for chlorides and E. coli. EPA also found the facility failed to submit/retain monitoring and inspection reports, conduct site inspections or submit annual reports.

As part of the settlement, ORMI will also build stormwater retention basins its Wellston, Missouri, development.