Wishing Steve Williamson a Happy Retirement


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Steve Williamson

Longtime employee and colleague Steve Williamson retired this month from Cox-Colvin & Associates, Inc.  In addition to eight years at Cox-Colvin, Steve’s long career included stints at Bennett & Williams, Geraghty & Miller, Arcadis, Malcolm Pirnie, and EBASCO.  We will miss his experience and caring demeanor. Steve is in the process of fixing up a sail boat and looks forward to sailing and more time for Cincinnati Reds baseball. Please join us in wishing Steve a long, happy, and healthy retirement by e-mailing him at Steve_Williamson@CoxColvin.com.

Small quantity generators may accumulate hazardous waste on site for up to 180 days (or up to 270 days if transporting a distance of 200 miles or more).  Large quantity generators may accumulate hazardous waste generated onsite for up to 90 days without a permit. Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) rules 3745-52-16(D) and 3745-52-17(B) allow small and large quantity generators, respectively, to request an extension to the 180/90-day accumulation time limit if the generator encounters unforeseen, temporary, and uncontrollable circumstances with transporting hazardous waste off-site. The Director of the Ohio EPA may grant up to a 30-day extension on a case-by-case basis. Ohio EPA recently created a one page 30-Day Extension Request Form to improve the extension request process. The form, to be submitted electronically, must be received by EPA prior to the expiration of the hazardous waste accumulation date to be considered for an extension.

On June 28, 2021, the US EPA proposed reporting and recordkeeping requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) section 8(a)(7) for PFAS manufactured in any year since January 1, 2011.   If finalized as proposed, the rule would require persons that manufacture (including import) or have manufactured PFAS in any year since January 1, 2011, to electronically report information regarding PFAS uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures, and hazards.  The stated purpose of the proposed rule is the collection of detailed data on PFAS, as required under TSCA section (8)(a)(7), with the hope that the information may serve as a basis to better understand potential routes of PFAS exposure and potential human health and environmental impacts of certain PFAS, among other research needs listed in the Agency’s PFAS Action Plan.  The proposed rule applies to over 1,300 PFAS substances and mixtures that fall with the structural definition of PFAS as defined within the rule. 

Because the proposed rule applies to persons that manufacture and/or import PFAS substances, it could apply to companies that previously were not subject to TSCA.  That’s because in addition to PFAS substances and mixtures, articles containing PFAS as part of surface treatments or coatings are included in the scope of reportable chemical substances.  This covers a wide range of consumer goods including cookware, carpets, upholstery, clothing, cleaning products, paper/cardboard products, and paint.  EPA proposes that the manufacture/importer report information to the extent that the information is “known to or reasonably ascertainable by” the reporter.  The proposed reporting standard caries with it an exercise of due diligence, however, the information gathering activities necessary to achieve the reporting standard may vary from case-to-case. 

Manufactures would essentially have one year following the effective date to collect and submit all required information to EPA.  TSCA section 8(a)(7) requires the EPA to publish a final rule no later than January 1, 2023.  The public comment period for the proposed rule has been extended from August 27, 2021 to September 27, 2021 and comments can be submitted using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov/.

Published in the August 2021 Focus on the Environment.

Environmental projects are driven by data.  Managing and evaluating these data in an efficient manner is key to project success.  Over time, a regulated facility can generate large datasets and numerous documents associated with various environmental investigation and monitoring programs.  Managing all this information in a format that promotes easy access for compiling, sharing, and leveraging the data can be a challenge, especially given the inevitable turnover of staff, regulators, and consultants on long-term projects.   Our flagship environmental management information system, Data Inspector™, has been used to support many of our clients’ data management needs for over 25 years.  In September, we will be releasing Data Inspector 5.0.  This new version has improved navigation, expanded graphing techniques, and enhanced GIS capabilities.

For over two decades, Data Inspector™ has provided our staff, consultants, and clients with secure access to their project data (analytical and field results, physical files, and spatial data) and a direct means of managing their hazardous waste streams.  Data Inspector™ provides this access through intuitive interfaces that quickly lead you to the answers you need free of third-party licensing arrangements.

Major enhancements in Version 5.0 include an expanded set of graphing techniques that allow you to explore and report on your data in a very efficient manner, improved navigation, streamlined PDF capabilities and a major redesign of the GIS mapping module. 

Charting

In addition to the time series charts that have been around many years, we have added Cross Plot and Tri-Linear charting capabilities that are extremely responsive to even the largest data sets. 

GIS

The GIS module has been expanded to allow users to save, share, and refine an unlimited number of mapping projects and access these projects in only two mouse clicks.  The features are great for exploring data and preparing final graphics for reports and sharing what you have found with anyone with access to your project database. 

The GIS interface has been completely redesigned to allow the user to complete line and polygon measurements, add layers by a variety of categories, query the database for a wide variety of sample types, plot these data in 3-dimensions, and much more.

Soon after the release, Cox-Colvin will publish help files, tips, and short videos on how to access, manage, export, report your data; search and share physical project files; and prepare charts, figures, and maps.  Please stay tuned. 

Published in the August 2021 Focus on the Environment.

Over the first five months of the new administration, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan has sent nine messages to EPA employees regarding transparency and maintaining the public trust.  The messages to EPA employees are compiled on to a single EPA webpage under the About EPA heading.  The messages to EPA employees cover the following topics:

  • Scientific integrity
  • Commitment to Environmental Justice
  • Transparency and earning public trust in EPA operations
  • Equal employment opportunity
  • Anti-harassment stance
  • Cooperation with the Office of Inspector General
  • Whistleblower protection
  • Reaffirming Freedom of Information Act
  • Commitment to Ethics

The messages appear to be designed to distance the current administration from the former on many of the issues that defined the Trump administration and to address the August 2020 recommendations of the Environmental Protection Network (EPN) in Resetting the course of EPA.  The EPN is a bipartisan network of more than 500 former EPA career employees and political appointees across the country who served under multiple Democratic and Republican administration.

The messages to EPA employees provide valuable insight into the direction of the EPA under the Bidden administration and are being used as a springboard for advancing EPA initiatives such as strengthening environmental justice through cleanup reforms.

Published in the August 2021 Focus on the Environment.

Through a July 1, 2021 memo, Lawrence Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) identified steps to be used in strengthening environmental justice (EJ) through cleanup enforcement actions.  EPA defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

The memo to Office of Site Remediation Enforcement Managers, Regional Superfund Division Directors and Deputies, and Regional Counsels and Deputies follows EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s April 7, 2021 commitment to environmental justice and calls for EPA employees to “strengthen enforcement of environmental violations” in communities disproportionately impacted by adverse health and environmental effects.  The April 7 commitment to environmental justice was one of a series of separate written messages to EPA employees regarding transparency and maintaining the public trust.  

The July 1 memo notes that EPA uses mapping and screening tools, including the online EJSCREEN tool, in combination with local knowledge to help identify overburdened communities and uses its authority under CERCLA and RCRA to hold responsible parties accountable for releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances or waste that impact communities and harm the environment.   The memo identifies five approaches to be used in advancing EPA’s environmental justice goals within the cleanup provisions of CERCLA and RCRA.  The approaches include:

  • Requiring responsible parties to take early cleanup actions
  • Ensuring prompt cleanup actions by responsible parties
  • Use of more robust enforcement instruments
  • Increased oversight of enforcement instruments
  • Building trust and capacity through community engagement

For each approach, the memo provides one or more actions. For example, under the “requiring responsible parties to take early cleanup actions” approach, the memo proposes empowering EPA regions to use CERCLA Section 106(a) and RCRA Section 7003 authorities, in conjunction with other regulatory programs to proactively address potential releases.

Seven actions are proposed for the “ensuring prompt cleanup by responsible parties” approach, four of which are:

  • Continue to expedite remedial design/remedial action (RD/RA) negotiations, elevate the focus on completing negotiations within one year, and bifurcate RD and RA where needed to achieve this goal
  • Require earlier involvement by the Office of Regional Counsel when potentially responsible parties (PRPs) request extensions of deadlines, miss deadlines, or are out of compliance.
  • Utilize unilateral administrative orders (UAOs) to compel PRPs to perform response actions and/or provide resources when negotiations fail or do not result in a timely settlement.
  • Review PRP-lead sites designated as “human exposure not under control” to determine if enforcement actions can effectively reduce human exposure.

Installation of advanced monitoring equipment to demonstrate compliance with remedial action objectives and the sharing of data with the public is proposed as a possible action to support the Use of More Robust Enforcement Instruments approach.

Published in the August 2021 Focus on the Environment.

Passive diffusion bag (PDB) sampling has been shown to be a cost-effective alternative to standard (or low-flow) purge and sample techniques for sampling volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in groundwater from monitor wells.  Until recently, the use of PBD sampling was limited to non-polar VOCs because large or polar molecules and ions cannot pass through the polyethylene membrane into the sampling bag. With relatively recent advances, this is changing, and passive diffusion sampling can now be used for an expanded list of compounds including major cations and anions, trace metals, VOCs, 1,4-dioxane, and PFAS.  See for example the EON Products, Inc. Dual Membrane sampler®. Multiple publications are available that summarize the many available options and pros and cons of passive sampling, including those from the U.S. Geological Survey and ITRC.  For help in determining if PDB sampling makes sense for you monitoring needs, please contact Colton_Creal@Cox-Colvin.com

Under subtitle C of RCRA, the EPA has developed regulations to identify solid wastes that must then be classified as hazardous waste.  Corrosivity is one of four characteristics of wastes that may cause them to be classified as RCRA hazardous waste.  The agency defines which wastes are hazardous because of their corrosive properties at 40 CFR 261.22.  Under these regulations, aqueous wastes having a pH 2 or lower, or 12.5 or higher, are regulated as hazardous waste. Liquid wastes that corrode steel above a certain rate are also classified as corrosive under RCRA. A solid waste that exhibits the characteristic of corrosivity carries the EPA Hazardous Waste Code of D002.

On September 8, 2011, the non-governmental organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and an EPA employee submitted a rulemaking petition to the EPA seeking changes to the current regulatory definition of corrosive hazardous wastes under RCRA.  The petition sought two specific changes to the 40 CFR 261.22(a) definition of a corrosive hazardous waste:

  • Revision of the pH regulatory value for defining a waste as corrosive hazardous waste from the current pH 12.5 or higher, to pH 11.5 or higher, and
  • Expansion of the scope the corrosivity regulation to apply to non-aqueous wastes in addition to the aqueous wastes addressed by the current regulation.

The petition argued that the regulatory pH value should be revised to pH 11.5 because information supporting this value was, in the petitioner’s view, inadequately considered in developing the original regulations and because the lower value is widely used as a threshold for identifying corrosive material outside of RCRA.  The petition further argued that corrosive properties of inhaled concrete dust, for example, caused injury to first responders and others in the World Trade Center disasters on September 11, 2001, and that such non-aqueous dusts should be regulated as corrosive hazardous waste under RCRA.

The Agency published for public comment its tentative decision on April 11, 2016 (81 FR 21295), proposing to deny both requested revisions to the corrosivity characteristic regulation sought by the petitioners.    In the recent June 15, 2021 Federal Register notice (86 FR 31622), the EPA responds to the 29 public comments received on the tentative denial and takes final action to deny the petition.  Through the June 15 notice, the Agency concluded that because the available information does not support revision of the RCRA corrosivity characteristic regulations sought by the petitioners, such revisions are unwarranted.

If, based on comments, EPA had decided to reverse its tentative decision and propose new rules to lower the pH standard to 11.5, the action would have broaden the scope and volume of materials meeting the corrosive criteria.  Ammonia, for instance, with a pH of 11.6 would be characterized as a corrosive waste and subject to the applicable RCRA requirements.  The request to expand the RCRA corrosivity definition to include nonaqueous wastes could, among other things, have resulted in large volumes of lime-stabilized waste, which when treated are otherwise non-hazardous, being classified as hazardous because of their pH. 

On a separate note, given the nearly 10-year period it took to complete this final denial of a relatively simple revision to a hazardous waste characteristic, it is hard to imagine that EPA could find a way to designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous waste under RCRA (as some have requested) in a reasonable time frame.

The past few months have resulted in a slew of federal and state actions associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  Below is a summary of some of them.

  • On March 11, 2021, the proposed fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) was published. The proposed UCMR 5 would provide new data that is designed to improve EPA’s understanding of the frequency of which 29 PFAS are found in the nation’s drinking water systems and at what levels. If approved, UCMR 5 sample collection would occur between 2023 and 2025.
  • On April 27, 2021, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan issued a memorandum to EPA’s senior leadership calling for the creation of a new “EPA Council on PFAS” that is charged with building on the agency’s ongoing work to better understand and ultimately reduce the potential risks caused by these chemicals. Radhika Fox, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Water, and Deb Szaro, Acting Regional Administrator in Region 1, will convene and lead the EPA Council on PFAS, which will be comprised of senior EPA career officials from across the agency.
  • On May 19, 2021 EPA updated its Drinking Water Treatability Database with new references and treatment options for PFAS.  With this update, EPA added treatment information for eleven PFAS compounds. This update brings the total number of PFAS with treatment information in the database to 37, including PFOA and PFOS. Researchers have also added 38 new scientific references to the existing PFAS entries, which increases the depth of scientific knowledge available in the database. For more information on  EPA’s Drinking Water Treatability Database and to access it, visit: https://www.epa.gov/water-research/drinking-water-treatability-database-tdb
  • On June 3, 2021, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania released final results of Statewide PFAS sampling of public water systems.  Full results and additional information can be found at www.dep.pa.gov/pfas.
  • On June 10, 2021, EPA proposed a new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) rule that will require facilities that manufacture (including import) or have manufactured PFAS substances in any year since January 1, 2011, to electronically report information regarding PFAS uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures, and hazards.  The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on June 28, 2021
  • On June 23, 2021, New Mexico’s Governor Michell Lujan Grisham petitioned EPA to designate PFAS as hazardous waste under RCRA. Through the petition, the Governor cites imminent and substantial endangerment, triggering a 90-day deadline by which EPA must respond.

Twice a year, a number of federal agencies combine efforts to publish a comprehensive report describing regulations currently under development or recently completed. These reports are bundled together and published as the Unified Agenda. The agency-specific semiannual Regulatory Agenda is published twice a year. The fall version, which also includes the Regulatory Plan, is typically released sometime between October and December. The spring version generally is published sometime in April through June.  The Regulatory Agenda is a web-based list of rulemaking actions, with limited additional detail provided.  The Regulatory Plan is a written plan that discusses agency priorities and information on those upcoming regulatory actions which the federal agency feels are the most important. 

The Spring 2021 Regulatory Agenda is the first for the Biden administration and although the agenda serves as a loose aspirational guide, it does provide a glimpse into the administration’s environmental priorities.  The Spring EPA Regulatory Agenda includes:

  • 64 completed actions (actions or reviews the agency has completed or withdrawn since publication of last agenda)
  • 128 active actions
  • 55 long-term actions (items under development but for which the agency does not expect to have a regulatory action within the 12 months after publication of this edition of the Unified Agenda).

The actions are organized by applicable EPA office such as Office of Environmental Information (OEI), Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM), Office of Research and Development (ORD), Office of Water (OW), Office of Air and Radiation (OAR), Office of Enforcement and Compliance (OECA), and Office of Environmental Information (OEI).  For each of the current 247 agenda items, the Regulatory Agenda provides a summary of the rulemaking, its priority, legal authority, legal deadline, statement of need, alternatives, costs and benefits, risks, timetable, sectors affected, and agency contacts.  Of the combined 183 active and long-term actions on the Spring 2021 list, 50% are through Office of Air and Radiation, 22% are from the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, 14% are from the Office of Water, and 9% are from the Office of Land and Emergency Response.

Several themes are apparent from the Biden administration’s first regulatory agenda. First, the shift in focus from deregulation to regulation. Second, the focus on air-related actions, representing 50% of the actions. Third, the number and urgency of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) actions, including:

  • National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) mandated addition of certain PFAS to the toxics release inventory (TRI) for reporting year 2021 – final rule stage
  • Unregulated contaminant monitoring rule (UCMR 5) for public water systems – final rule stage
  • Clean Water Act effluent limitations guidelines and standards for the organic chemicals, plastics and synthetic fibers point source category – prerule stage
  • Reporting and recordkeeping for PFAS under Section 8(a)(7) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – proposed rule stage
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) National Primary Drinking Water Regulation Rulemaking – long term action
  • Designating PFOA and PFOS as CERCLA hazardous substances – long-term action

You can access current and past regulatory agendas through either RegInfo.gov or Regulations.gov.

Near-term EPA priorities also can be gleaned from the budgeting process.  The Biden administration released its fiscal year 2022 budget request in late May.  The request petitions Congress to increase EPA’s annual funding by 21 percent.  The EPA FY 2022 Budget in Brief is a comprehensive and easy to read summary of the proposed 2022 budget, with priorities clearly identified.


Wishing Steve Williamson a Happy Retirement

Longtime employee and colleague Steve Williamson retired this month from Cox-Colvin & Associates, Inc.  In addition to eight years at Cox-Colvin, Steve’s long career included stints at Bennett & Williams, Geraghty & Miller, Arcadis, Malcolm Pirnie, and EBASCO.  We will miss his experience and caring demeanor. Steve is in the process of fixing up a… Read More »

EPA Proposes New Reporting and Recordkeeping Rule for PFAS

  • By: Doug
  • Posted: 08/27/21

On June 28, 2021, the US EPA proposed reporting and recordkeeping requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) section 8(a)(7) for PFAS manufactured in any year since January 1, 2011.   If finalized as proposed, the rule would require persons that manufacture (including import) or have manufactured PFAS in any year since January 1, 2011,… Read More »

Data Inspector 5.0 to Debut in September

  • By: Craig
  • Environmental projects are driven by data.  Managing and evaluating these data in an efficient manner is key to project success.  Over time, a regulated facility can generate large datasets and numerous documents associated with various environmental investigation and monitoring programs.  Managing all this information in a format that promotes easy access for compiling, sharing, and… Read More »

Resetting the Course of EPA

Over the first five months of the new administration, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan has sent nine messages to EPA employees regarding transparency and maintaining the public trust.  The messages to EPA employees are compiled on to a single EPA webpage under the About EPA heading.  The messages to EPA employees cover the following topics:… Read More »

EPA Enforcement Chief Calls for Strengthened Environmental Justice through Cleanup Enforcement

  • By: George
  • Through a July 1, 2021 memo, Lawrence Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) identified steps to be used in strengthening environmental justice (EJ) through cleanup enforcement actions.  EPA defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or… Read More »

Passive Diffusion Groundwater Sampling for Compounds Beyond VOCs

Passive diffusion bag (PDB) sampling has been shown to be a cost-effective alternative to standard (or low-flow) purge and sample techniques for sampling volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in groundwater from monitor wells.  Until recently, the use of PBD sampling was limited to non-polar VOCs because large or polar molecules and ions cannot pass through the… Read More »

The Latest on the PFAS Front

The past few months have resulted in a slew of federal and state actions associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  Below is a summary of some of them. On March 8, 2021, the influential Association of State & Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) called for EPA to designate the entire class of PFAS… Read More »

EPA Identifies Rulemaking Priorities for 2021 and Beyond

  • By: George
  • Twice a year, a number of federal agencies combine efforts to publish a comprehensive report describing regulations currently under development or recently completed. These reports are bundled together and published as the Unified Agenda. The agency-specific semiannual Regulatory Agenda is published twice a year. The fall version, which also includes the Regulatory Plan, is typically… Read More »

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