Friday, June 13, 2014

Fall River Water Department Faces Potential $213K EPA Fine

Fall River, MA -- A document generated from the office of the city’s corporation counsel indicates the Fall River water department could be facing a $213,000 Environmental Protection Agency water violation fine.

City Counselor Raymond Mitchell stated that the date of the incident was Sept. 11, 2013, around the time the water department was cited for several violations. The violations include:
  • failure to perform a mandatory five-year update of its risk management plan, 
  • failure to have a management system for the plan, 
  • failure to update a hazard review, and 
  • failure to implement a maintenance program, including furnishing documents pertaining to the maintenance of the chain hoist that lifts large cylinders of chlorine and chlorine detectors.
Corporation Counsel Elizabeth Sousa stated that “There’s been no fine levied against the city. We are in the negotiations process with the EPA.”

City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros said EPA officials asked the administration not to discuss the matter because of the negotiations in response to Mitchell's pressing of the matter regarding the EPA fine.

Dave Deegan, EPA spokesman for the New England region, stated that a possible civil penalty for related violations had not yet been determined. He said that until there is a final settlement or action, the agency will not comment on those issues.

Council President Joseph Camara said that if the EPA didn’t want the issue public, it should not be. But he said the council should have been made aware of the request.  City Counselor Mitchell stated that the counsel should have been made aware in order to prepare for the possibility of the EPA fine because it is a significant amount of money.

In order to keep the public from worrying, Administrator of Community Utilities Terrance Sullivan said the updated report has been filed and procedures at the drinking water plant have not changed. “It’s safe and was safe after the EPA action, it is safe now and we have a pile of documents to say it is safe,” Sullivan said.

Prior to the city claims discussion, the administration had been trying to convince the council to revote on increasing water and sewer rates for supposed underfunded departments.  Despite the lack of support from opposing council members, the City Council did approve a $4.85 million loan order for the water department's Phase 14 Waster System Improvement project to begin in 2016.

Visit Green Education Services to learn more about water management and environmental science courses! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tyson to Pay EPA $305K Fine

Charlotte, N.C -- Tyson Foods agreed to pay a $305,000 federal fine resulting from a spill of rendered oily chicken byproducts from its facility in Harmony, N.C., into two local water sources — Hunting Creek and the South Yadkin River, — according to settlement papers filed in federal court on Tuesday, May 27.

According to the complaints, a frozen valve had burst which resulted in a wastewater spill of approximately 210,000 gallons, which then inadvertently discharged into a nearby river. The river served two public surface water intakes downstream which were affected by the spill, one serving Mocksville and one serving Davie County. The water intakes were temporarily shut down for a brief period of time as a precaution.

“At the time of the incident, Tyson cooperated fully with local government and water treatment officials,” Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said.  Sparkman further insisted that there was no health risk to residents using the water at the time of the spill.

The incident occurred in January 2010 and Tyson was fined $8,375 by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which they paid back in 2010.

“The discharged oil caused a sheen, film, and discoloration of the surface of the water and adjoining shorelines of Hunting Creek and the South Yadkin River, and caused an emulsion to be deposited upon the adjoining shorelines of Hunting Creek and the South Yadkin River,” the EPA wrote in its complaint.

Tyson has 30 days to pay the federal fine, according to the settlement. Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, owner of Tyson Farms, is one of the largest food producers in the U.S. The company had $34.4 billion worth of sales in 2013. Almost a third of its revenue came from chickens, of which the company produces 41 million a week.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

EPA Deems RRP Lead-Paint Rule A Success, Plans for Future

By Craig Webb, Editor-in-Chief, Remodeling and ProSales at Hanley Wood

Four years since the launch of the federal government’s lead-safe renovation program, the official in charge of the program states that it has “a good foundation in place” and anecdotal evidence that it has helped reduce cases of lead poisoning in children.

To date, more than 135,000 renovation firms and roughly 493,000 individuals have been certified by approximately 600 certified trainers to engage in lead-safe practices when working on homes where the possibility of lead paint exists, stated Tanya Hodge Mottley, director of the National Program Chemicals Division at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA has taken nearly 70 enforcement actions regarding violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule since its enactment in April 2010.  Particularly notable violations of the RRP rule were Lowe's Home Centers who were cited with a record $500K fine and in Connecticut, the 200 letters sent to home renovation and painting contractors regarding a planned "compliance assistance and enforcement initiative."

Read more: http://www.remodeling.hw.net/business/regulations/epas-rrp-chief-touts-lead-paint-rules-success-outlines-future-plans_o

Stay compliant by earning your Lead Renovators Certification. Or, if you have already been certified, stay up to date by taking a Lead Renovators Refresher course. GreenEDU offers these courses nationwide in both English and Spanish!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

EPA Brownfields Program Grants $2M to Clean-Up Projects in NJ

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing a total of $2 million to communities in New Jersey to clean up abandoned and contaminated properties, called "brownfields". The funding was awarded through the EPA’s Brownfields Program, which helps communities assess, clean up, redevelop, and reuse previously contaminated properties.

The $2 million for the clean-up project was allocated between four separate organizations and counties. The Camden Redevelopment Agency received $600,000 to be used for the clean-up of volatile organic compounds and dieldrin, to develop a waterfront habitat cleanup plan, and conduct community engagement activities. Union County also received $600,000 which will fund the assessment of sites potentially contaminated by hazardous substances and petroleum. Mercer County Improvement Agency was allotted $400,000 for the clean-up of hazardous substances and petroleum as well as for the development of community engagement activities. Newark was granted $400,000 for clean-up of hazardous substances and petroleum.

EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck stated: “EPA brownfields grants allow abandoned and contaminated sites to be put to good use as parks, new housing and businesses that create jobs and help revitalize communities. Not only will these brownfields cleanups produce jobs, they will protect the health of area residents, restore the environment and improve the quality of people’s lives.” To learn more about the EPA's Brownfields activities, visit http://epa.gov/brownfields/.

Brownfields Program Success
Since the inception of the EPA’s Brownfields program in 1995, cumulative brownfield program investments have leveraged more than $21 billion from a variety of public and private sources for cleanup and redevelopment activities. This equates to an average of $17.79 leveraged per EPA brownfield dollar expended. These investments have resulted in approximately 93,000 jobs nationwide. These projects demonstrate the positive impact a small investment of federal brownfields funding can have on community revitalization through leveraging jobs, producing clean energy, and providing recreation opportunities for surrounding neighborhoods. The EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and others to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields sites. Click here for more information about the Brownfields Program's Accomplishments.

Green Education Services offers a full line-up of courses for the safe clean-up of hazardous substances Visit https://www.greenedu.com/hazardous-materials to learn more.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

USGBC Announces New Round of LEED Registration Closing and Sunset Dates

Much like the industry that it's a part of, LEED is constantly improving and evolving to keep up with the technology and innovations in the field.  As new rating systems come into play, older versions are phased out in order to excel in innovation. It is essential for rating systems to eventually reach a sunset date, or close for registration and certification, in order to challenge projects to meet increasingly higher levels of achievement as LEED programs are updated by the U.S. Green Building Council.

At any given point, LEED rating systems are either:
  • Open for registration and certification, or
  • Closed for registration, but open for certification, or
  • Closed for registration and certification (Sunset)
It is very important to make sure you are aware of how long you have to register or certify your project for LEED under the specific version of the rating system you wish to use. You can verify eligibility dates by visiting Guide to LEED Certification for LEED v4 certification and the LEED Certification Policy Manual for all other versions.

Recently, USGBC announced updated sunset and registration close dates for v2 and 2009 rating systems that are still in use:
  • The sunset date for projects registered under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance v2.0 has been extended so projects now have until August 31, 2014 to either upgrade to a newer rating system version or to submit the project for certification.
  • The registration close date for all LEED 2009 rating systems has been extended to June 27, 2015.
USGBC commented that these dates are not necessarily set in stone, however if they do change it is typically in favor of project teams.

If your project is currently registered under LEED for Existing Buildings v2.0, the current options to achieve certification are:
  1. Submit for certification under your current rating system and version, OR
  2. Upgrade at to a newer version of the LEED rating system. EBv2.0 projects may be upgraded to either:
    • LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance v2009 - 50% discount on current registration fees. To upgrade your project to EBOM v2009, follow these instructions.
    • LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance v4 for a fee of $100. To upgrade to O&M v4, please contact gbci.org.
Please note: If your project is still seeking certification, one of these options must be completed by August 31, 2014

Other important things to keep in mind:
  • After August 31, 2014, EB v2.0 projects can no longer be upgraded and must instead be registered anew, subject to all applicable fees.
  • The sunset of LEED for Existing Buildings v2.0 only applies to projects registered under LEED-EB v2.0.
  • EB v2.0 projects may only be accessed through LEED Online v2. Projects registered under all other versions of the LEED rating system (including LEED-EBOM v2008 and LEED EBOM v2009) are not affected. 
Want to learn more about certifying a LEED green building project? Become an Accredited LEED Professional. Green Education Services offers a full line-up of LEED Exam Prep courses to ensure you pass the challenging LEED exams.  

Already Accredited? Be sure to maintain your LEED Certification by completing 15 or 30 hours of continuing education courses per 2-year reporting period. Visit LEED Continuing Education for more information on our CMP live webinars and on-demand training.

      Cashing In With Solar-Powered Energy

      Solar-powered energy is quite the hot topic when it comes to sustainability projects. An important aspect of solar power is that it is pollution-free during use and is well on its way to becoming the world's primary energy source. Not only are photovoltaic panels easy on the environment, they are also easy on the wallet -- in the long-run. This is especially the case when it comes to the electric bill, or when it comes time to sell your photovoltaic panel installed home.

      Researchers at Berkeley Lab in California report that typically homes with 3.1-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) systems sell for an average $24,705 more than homes without PV systems. Additionally, each 1-kilowatt increase in generating capacity resulted in a $5,911 sale premium.

      Initially, however, photovoltaic systems are not cheap.  Solar Energy Industries Association states that a 6.1-kilowatt system spanning 350 square feet costs about $28,000 for parts and installation, though tax incentives may help offset the cost. Additionally for the buyers, the systems depreciate quickly. Each year that a system ages is accompanied by a $2,411 drop in the sale price, despite the system having a life span of about 25 years, according to the study.

      The use of photovoltaic systems by homeowners is very recent, according to Ben Hoen of Berkeley Lab. Approximately 32% of total PV systems in the U.S. were added in 2013 alone, spurred by technology improvements and aggressive promotion by states, according to the solar energy association. Roughly half a million homes in the U.S. use PV systems for power. PV systems are most commonly seen in California, Hawaii and Arizona, according to the association.

      In the study, researchers examined 1,598 PV homes and 6,140 non-PV homes that sold from 2000 to 2009 in California. If you are interested in the full details of the study conducted by Berkeley Lab in California, it is available here: Exploring California PV Home Premiums.

      Having a photovoltaic system installed in your home has the benefit of making your home far more marketable when it is time to sell. According to Benjamin Leaskou, CEO of Leaskou Partners - a real estate agency based in California, "It helps sell a property, to be quite honest."

      What are Photovoltaic Panels?
      Photovoltaic, or PV, panels are used for the solar power generation as a clean sustainable energy technology which draws upon the planet’s most plentiful and widely distributed renewable energy source – the sun. Photovoltaic systems convert sunlight directly into electricity using solar panels made of semiconductor materials. These systems differ from various other solar-heating systems, which use the sun's energy to generate heat.

      With the growing industry of solar power, Green Education Services provides solar training classes developed specifically for contractors, electricians, engineers, solar energy entrepreneurs and sales people. For more information regarding these courses visit https://www.greenedu.com/solar-training.