Agriculture Makes Final Plans before Regulatory Deadline

With the November 10th Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure plan (SPCC) compliance deadline now clearly within sight, it’s time to button up your SPCC plan and make sure it is fully implemented. 

Some questions you may want to consider as you put the final touches on your SPCC plan:

  • If a state or federal inspector arrives and asks for a copy of your plan, can you and/or your employees access it quickly?
  • Have you signed your SPCC plan?
  • Have you implemented security measures?
  • Do you have appropriate secondary containment in place?
  • Are your emergency contacts up-to-date and appropriate?
  • Do you have a drawing with facility layout and oil storage locations?
  • Have you implemented an inspection and record keeping program?
  • Do you have a plan to conduct your annual training for employees that handle oil?

Remember, you may be able to develop your own SPCC plan and self-certify your plan.  Also, the SPCC Rules may not apply if a spill will not reach navigable waters.  However, you must evaluate how the SPCC rules apply, or do not apply, to your farm.

It’s worth mentioning again that the SPCC rules fall under the Clean Water Act, which carries some very significant “enforcement teeth.”

For a more detailed discussion on the SPCC plans, see our May 5, 2011, and August 5, 2011, blog entries.

 If you have any questions about the SPCC rules, contact Christopher Paré (cpare@dragun.com) or Matthew Schroeder (mschroeder@dragun.com) at 248-932-0228.

Environment Canada Enforcement

According to Environment Canada, “Imperial Oil Resources NWT Ltd. …pleaded guilty in Territorial Court to federal charges of releasing a harmful substance into fish-bearing waters, and violating conditions of its water license. The company was fined a total of $185,000.”

The news release goes on to say, “The plea was entered on one count under the federal Fisheries Act s. 36(3), and relates to the release of NALCO 7390 (a substance used to reduce corrosion) into the Mackenzie River.”

For more information, see the release http://www.ec.gc.ca/alef-ewe/default.asp?lang=En&n=1A5C10D4-1

If you have questions about assistance with environmental compliance or environmental remediation, contact Christopher Paré (cpare@dragun.com) at 519-979-7300.

 

Superfund List Grows

According to a news release dated September 15, 2011, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adding 15 hazardous waste sites that pose risks to people’s health and the environment to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. EPA is also proposing 11 sites to be added to the list.”

The EPA published the first NPL in 1982.  Of the 1,652 sites that have been listed on the NPL since 1982, 350 have been “cleaned up.”

Here is the link to the EPA News Release http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/BC39B57FBC50DA8A8525790C005C0BB6

If you need technical assistance with a complex environmental matter such as a Superfund related issue, see our expert services group http://www.dragun.com/us/services/expert/index.htm

 

 

Soil and Groundwater Remediation Seminar in Richmond Hill, Ontario

In April of this year, we provided a seminar on environmental remediation (“Essential Information You Must Have Before You Begin Soil/Groundwater Remediation”) in Burlington, Ontario.  We presented technical information on site characterization and discussed various site remediation options.

What we found out after our seminar is our presentation exceeded the expectations of the attendees, some of whom were apprehensive and thought we might launch into a “sales pitch” at any moment.  I understand; I’ve been to these types of seminars (that’s why you sit close to the nearest door).  

We’ve been conducting seminars for nearly 25 years and our goal has always been to teach you what we have learned through education and experience, help you make better business decisions, and certainly if you believe we can help – we are more than happy to meet with you after the seminar.

On October 4th will be conducting an “encore” performance of our environmental remediation seminar, this time in Richmond Hill, Ontario.  If you would like more information about the seminar and/or would like to register, follow this link to our website.

http://www.dragun.com/ca/press/news/remediation/index.htm

Clean Water Act Rumblings in Iowa and a New Animated Video Sponsored by a Restaurant May Raise Eyebrows

On August 18, 2011, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), and the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club served the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a notice of intent (NOI) to sue.  Currently, the state of Iowa has permitting authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA), but the three groups are demanding a response to their September 20, 2007, petition for withdrawal of CWA permitting authority.

According to the EIP’s website, “The 2007 petition made the case that Iowa has failed to meet minimum Clean Water Act requirements by allowing hog factories and other Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations to pollute Iowa’s water unchecked, and that EPA should step in to take back the state’s permitting authority if it does not come into compliance.”

EIP Attorney Tarah Heinzen said, “Despite hundreds of illegal manure spills and devastating fish kills, Iowa DNR continues to blatantly ignore federal law and refuses to regulate factory farms. EPA’s nearly four-year delay in addressing our petition is unreasonable and unlawful…”

Many environmental groups across the United States believe large livestock operations, and CAFOs in particular, should be more closely regulated under the CWA. As a point of reference, some of the agriculture-specific programs that fall under the authority of the CWA include National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plans, and Total Maximum Daily Load (a prevalent issue on the East Coast).

The CWA, and more specifically, enforcement under the CWA can be “very serious business,” and this enforcement isn’t just on “smoke stack industries.”  In fact, on the EPA’s website, they offer “Some examples of positive environmental results and improvements achieved through settlements in Water enforcement (emphasis added).”

Iowa Beef Packers, Inc:  The company also agreed to pay a $4.1 million penalty and to perform Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) valued at $3.4 million.

Premium Standards Farms (PSF): The company is required to test lagoons for leakage, monitor air emissions, and pay penalties. PSF has agreed to pay a $350,000 civil penalty (besides $650,000 previously paid to the state of Missouri), and spend, according to EPA estimates, as much as $50 million to develop and install cleaner wastewater treatment technologies never before used in large-scale farm operations.

WalMart: The settlement commits WalMart Stores to a comprehensive environmental management plan (valued at $4.5 million) to increase compliance at each of the store’s construction sites nationwide through additional inspections, training and recordkeeping, and requires the company to pay a $1 million penalty.

Amtrak: Amtrak agreed to establish a company-wide environmental management system (valued at $11 million), pay a $500,000 penalty, and spend $900,000 on environmental projects.

“Positive results” are, perhaps, in the eye of the beholder.

The Clean Water Act, whether administered by the state or the EPA, has wide-reaching applicability and understanding how it does or does not affect you and your operation may be very important.

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Finally, Chipotle has always been transparent in their “eco-friendly” views.  On their website they state, “Industrial ranching and factory farming produce tons of waste while depleting the soil of nutrients. These seem like bad things to us. So we work hard to source our ingredients in ways that protect this little planet of ours.”

So perhaps the recently Chipotle-sponsored video  shouldn’t be a surprise.  But does this video support small farms or does it take a shot at CAFOs?  You decide http://mashable.com/2011/08/30/willie-nelson-farms-chipotle/