EPA news includes ongoing Flint investigation, research funding and Clean Water Act violations

March 29, 2016

The EPA has sampled drinking water at more than 400 residences in Flint to test for 13 heavy metals including lead, copper, aluminum and phosphates.

Federal investigation finds no health concerns for bathing and showering in Flint

FLINT, Mich. — March 24, 2016 — An ongoing investigation found that bathing and showering in Flint, Michigan, is safe.

Children under six as well as women who are pregnant or nursing are encouraged to drink bottled water, and all other residents should continue to use water filters.

The U.S. Centers for Disease control and Prevention, state and county health agencies and the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sampled the water at 95 Flint homes where residents were concerned about skin rashes and hair loss. The EPA tested for lead and other contaminants including 26 metals, phosphate and chloride.

The agency will expand its water sampling efforts for disinfection by products including trihalomethanes, lead, copper and other organic compounds.

The EPA has sampled drinking water at more than 400 residences in Flint to test for 13 heavy metals including lead, copper, aluminum and phosphates.

EPA funds research on health impacts of water reuse

SAN FRANCSICO — March 23, 2016 — Five new studies funded by the EPA will investigate the human and ecological health impacts of water reuse and conservation practices.

Four universities and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) were awarded a total of $3.3 million through the agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program.

They include the University of California Riverside, which will measure levels of contaminants in common vegetables and other food crops irrigated with treated wastewater, and evaluate human dietary exposure.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, will determine the risk of microbes and compare the sustainability of indirect and direct potable water reuse systems in the United States.

Researchers at Utah State University will assess the impacts and benefits of stormwater harvesting using Managed Aquifer Recharge to develop new water supplies in arid western urban ecosystems.

A study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign aims to develop a new framework to understand how adaptive UV and solar-based disinfection systems reduce the persistence of viral pathogens in wastewater for sustainable reuse.

Lastly, WERF will identify contaminant hotspots, assess the impact of those hotspots on human and ecological health, and quantify the impact of water reuse and management solutions.

Great Lakes states to receive $1M in EPA aid for pollution prevention

CHICAGO — March 18, 2016 — The EPA announced a competitive grant program to support pollution prevention programs in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to a press release.

Projects eligible to receive the grants will focus on reducing "the environmental impact of local and regional businesses s through hazardous-materials reduction, energy and water conservation, and other techniques." States, federally recognized tribes and organizations considered "instruments of a state," such as colleges and universities, may apply.

Albuquerque water utility agrees to Clean Water Act settlement

DALLAS — March 22, 2016 — The Albuquerque County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) recently resolved EPA allegations that it violated the Clean Water Act. In addition to paying a civil penalty of $33,500, ABCWUZ will provide water to the Valle del Oro National Wildlife Refuge through the construction of a pipeline from the Southside Water Reclamation Plant.

The pipelines project will support water reuse opportunities in the South Valley, provide irrigation to a bike path and to a local elementary school as well as parks or street median projects.

An EPA inspection found the authority exceeded its permit limit for the amount of E. coli present in the discharged effluent. It also found numerous sanitary sewer overflows.

In March 2015, the EPA ordered ABCWUA to correct violations that led to the discharge of about six million gallons of sewage into the Rio Grande.

Mississippi Super Fund site cleanup completed

ATLANTA — March 28, 2016 — The cleanup at the Chemfax Inc. Superfund Site in Gulfport, Mississippi, is complete, according to the EPA. The site was placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List in 2012.

The 11-acre site included contaminants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and naphthalene, which also impacted the groundwater. Tanks, drums, asbestos and about 3,400 cubic yards of contaminated soil were disposed of off-site.

The groundwater beneath the site will be monitored long-term to ensure contaminant levels continue to decrease and not spread. Beginning in 2021, the agency will conduct site reviews every five years to ensure human health and environmental safety.

In use from March 1955 to 1995, the facility produced synthetic hydrocarbon resins and waxes from petroleum products.

Environmental groups petition EPA over contamination of aquifers

WASHINGTON — March 23, 2016 — Environmental groups filed a formal petition urging the EPA to stop allowing the oil, gas and nuclear industries to “intentionally contaminate underground water sources with hazardous chemicals and waste."

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Clean Water Action, the Powder River Basin Resource Council and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center claim that the dumping allowed under current EPA policy destroyed thousands of potential drinking water sources across the U.S, primarily in areas experiencing moderate or severe water stress such as California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The petition filed on Wednesday calls on the EPA to repeal or amend the aquifer exemption program, arguing that it is outdated and illegal.

Pipeline operator fined for oil discharges

PHILADELPHIA — March 23, 2016 — Williams Ohio Valley Midstream paid a $14,440 penalty to the EPA for Clean Water Act Violations.

The company owns and operates a natural gas pipelines in Moundsville, West Virginia. It was cited by the EPA when a four-inch pipe ruptured at its facility, leading to a discharge of 132 barrels of natural gas condensate into a nearby waterway. Three local waterways were observed to have a sheen on them immediately after the event, including an Ohio River tributary, Little Grave Creek.

The penalty will be used to fund future oil cleanups as part of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

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