Can You Dig Half a Hole? EPA Proposes Partial Excavation at St. Louis Radioactive Landfill

In the early 1970s, a contractor for a uranium producer illegally dumped about 8,700 tons of uranium-processing waste at the West Lake Landfill in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Originally placed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1990, the landfill is regarded as one of the most complex Superfund sites because it sits next to another landfill where an underground fire smolders. The landfill was targeted for “immediate, intense action” by the EPA Superfund Task Force in December 2017. The
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Get the Lead Out

Two recent developments illustrate that the dangers of lead paint need to remain on the radar, especially for employers, property owners, and real estate managers. First, on January 26, a jury in New York handed down a $57 million verdict against the New York City Housing Authority after it failed to perform lead paint inspections and then represented that the inspections had been completed. The Housing Authority’s failure resulted in high blood-lead levels in at least one small child, whose
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Clean Water Rule Update — The EPA Postpones Effective Date of WOTUS

The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes a structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulates quality standards for surface waters. In May 2015, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the Clean Water Rule (the Rule or WOTUS), hoping to clarify the reach of the elusive phrase “waters of the United States” — the bodies of water protected under the CWA. When the Rule passed in 2015, developers, farmers, and
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Cutting the Red Tape: EPA Moves to Shorten Approval Process for New Products

The Environmental Protection Agency has altered its approach to assessing new chemicals for health and environmental hazards, resulting in streamlining the safety review process that had been criticized as too slow and cumbersome. Under the new approach, the EPA will no longer require that manufacturers offering new chemicals sign legal agreements that restrict the chemicals use under certain conditions. Those agreements, known as consent orders, will still be required if the EPA believes that the manufacturer’s intended use for a
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EPA Takes Baby-Step Toward Replacing Clean Power Plan

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency took the first miniscule step toward replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) when it announced that it will seek public input on “the proper and respective roles of the state and federal governments” in setting emissions limits on greenhouse gases. The CPP is a regulation set forth by the EPA under the Obama administration aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Among other things, the CPP sets a goal to reduce
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It’s High Noon: Showdown Between States, EPA on Ozone Regulations

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 14 states — including California, New York, and Illinois — plus the District of Columbia filed suit in federal court in the Northern District of California against Scott Pruitt and the EPA. The states are trying to force EPA to announce a decision on whether all areas of the country are in or out of compliance with Clean Air Act ozone standards. According to the complaint, such designations trigger the steps necessary to protect the
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The EPA’s Draft Strategic Plan — Part of the Rebalance?

In May, we wrote about the intentions of EPA director Scott Pruitt to rebalance the EPA. At the time, we reported on the speech Pruitt delivered at CERAWEEK, an annual conference involving leaders in industry, energy, the financial sectors, and government. In early October, the EPA released a Draft Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2018-2022. This draft, released for public comment and review, echoes the comments made by Pruitt during CERAWEEK, including the three goals (listed below) to support the
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Two Birds With One Violation: EPA Uses Settlement with Heritage Environmental Services LLC to Upgrade Indiana Schools

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached a unique settlement with Heritage Environmental Services LLC over multiple hazardous waste violations issued in 2012 during an inspection of Heritage’s Indianapolis waste disposal facility. As part of the settlement, in addition to improving its waste handling procedures and paying a $77,385 civil penalty, Heritage agreed to install energy efficient, PCB-free lighting and new drinking water fountains with lead-filtering systems at the Carrie Gosch Pre-K Early Learning Center and the Joseph L.
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“How am I doing?” — The Preliminary Hurricane Scorecard for the EPA

The EPA maintains that it is working with local, state, and federal officials to respond to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria. With all three hurricanes, the EPA maintains that its role is to assess and assist with drinking water and waste water systems, Superfund sites, and flood waters. Christine Todd Whitman, former EPA Administrator, recently interviewed by Bloomberg News claimed that vacancies at the top of nearly all 10 regional EPA offices will likely hamper EPA’s response to Hurricane Harvey. Whitman said that regional offices are missing Trump appointees and that this “…makes it difficult, because what you’ve got is a lot of career
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EPA Funds Nanotech Firm for Development of Technology to Measure Lead in Household Drinking Water

On September 19, 2017, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was awarding nearly $100,000 in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding to NanoSafe, Inc. in Blacksburg, Virginia to foster technologies that can accurately measure lead levels in household drinking water. SBIR funding is intended to help small, high-tech businesses develop proof of concepts that can be brought to market and commercialized. With more and more attention being focused on the safety of public and private drinking water,
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