Archive | March, 2011

The Illinois Drycleaner Environmental Response Trust Fund

30 Mar

Most drycleaners use chlorine or hydro-carbon based solvents to clean clothes.  The most common solvent used is tetrachlroethylene (TCE) otherwise known as perchloroethylene (PCE or perc).  Unfortunately, these solvents often contaminate the surrounding soil and groundwater.  Due to the expense of these clean-ups and the relatively limited funds of the owners or operators, Illinois established the Illinois Drycleaner Environmental Response Trust Fund (Fund).  The Fund is financed through license fees, insurance premiums and solvent taxes. (more…)

Using the “contained-in” policy to lower brownfield remediation costs.

30 Mar

Often the cost of disposing soil contaminated with hazardous waste precludes removal actions at brownfield sites.  As a result, many otherwise suitable brownfield sites with low levels of soil contamination were passed over in favor of developing greenfields.  In order to rectify this negative incentive to redevelop brownfields, the EPA created the ”contained in” policy, which has subsequently been implemented in many states including Illinois.   Once a developer has received a “contained-in” determination the contaminated soil may be disposed of in a non-hazardous landfill.  It has been estimated that a “contained-in” determination can lower disposal fees by one third to one half. (more…)

Five frequent RCRA generator violations

29 Mar

RCRA generators are subject to inspections by both the U.S. EPA and its state counterparts.  Typically, large quantity generators are slated for an inspection every five years and small quantity generators are inspected less frequently.  While at U.S. EPA, I was the attorney assigned to well over one hundred RCRA Subtitle C inspections.  During the course of working with the inspectors who conducted these inspections and helping draft the Notice of Violation (NOV) letters, it became abundantly apparent that generators repeatedly made the same mistakes.  What is more, although many of these violations were not individually sufficient to justify an agency complaint, many companies were making a sufficiently large number of small mistakes that collectively they justified agency enforcement.  Listed below are five of the most common violations. 


Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans for emergency generators

27 Mar

Many manufacturing and industrial facilities have emergency back-up generators to ensure production or safety equipment is operational during power outages.  The fuel for these generators often subjects the operator to creating and maintaining a spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) plan for the facility.  How does a facility know if it must prepare a SPCC plan? (more…)

Nuisance claims for Greenhouse Gases before Supreme Court

15 Mar

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments this spring in American Electric Power (AEP) v. Connecticut regarding whether the emission of greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants amounts to a public nuisance under common law.  The plaintiffs “seek judicially fashioned emissions caps on five utilities for their alleged contributions” to global warming.  The Supreme Court agreed to hear three issues.


California Green Chemistry Initiative

9 Mar

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is currently redrafting the regulations to implement the Green Chemistry Initiative.  The Green Chemistry Initiative, passed in 2008, will require consumer chemical products to be examined for Chemicals of Concern (COCs) and possibly be reformulated to reduce or remove COCs.  Given the size of California’s economy and  the lack of action on revising the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, the Green Chemistry Initiative may have significant repercussions throughout the United States and entire world economy. (more…)