Waukegan says goodbye to a coal plant but must now contend with its industrial waste

Read the full story from WBEZ.

Environmental activists warn that leaving large coal ash repositories in place could lead to toxic spills and groundwater contamination.

EPA adds five PFAS chemicals to list of Regional Screening and Removal Management Levels

EPA is taking an important step forward to protect people from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by adding five PFAS chemicals for a total of six PFAS chemicals to a list of risk-based values that help EPA determine if response or remediation activities are needed. EPA’s action provides the Agency with critical tools needed for Superfund and other Agency programs to investigate contamination and protect people from these PFAS chemicals using the latest peer-reviewed science.

“Aggressively addressing PFAS across America is an active and ongoing priority to the Biden-Harris Administration,” said Carlton Waterhouse, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “One key way that EPA is leading this effort is by relying on sound science to investigate risk from PFAS at Superfund sites.”

Screening and removal management levels are not cleanup standards. They are risk-based values that help EPA determine if further investigation or actions are needed to protect public health, such as, sampling, assessing risks, and taking further action, which could include providing alternative drinking water. These mechanisms allow site teams to make better site decisions that will protect nearby communities. 

The five PFAS additions include: hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt (HFPO-DA – sometimes referred to as GenX chemicals), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS). EPA added the first PFAS substance, PFBS or perfluorobutanesulfonic acid, to the Regional Screening Level and Regional Removal Management Level lists in 2014 and updated it in 2021 when EPA released its updated toxicity assessment for PFBS.

The science of PFAS is rapidly evolving. For PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, and PFHxS, EPA selected levels using the most updated final peer-reviewed information based on Minimal Risk Levels from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s 2021 toxicological profile. For the fifth chemical, HFPO-DA, EPA used a final peer-reviewed EPA toxicity value. EPA regularly reviews and updates Regional Screening Levels and Regional Removal Management Levels twice a year. As the science on PFAS evolves, EPA may update these values and add other PFAS chemicals.

Regional Screening Levels are used to identify contaminated media (i.e., air, tap water, and soil) at a site that may need further investigation. In general, if a contaminant concentration is below the screening level, no further action or investigation is needed. If the concentration is above the screening level, further investigation is generally needed to determine if some action is required. Regional Removal Management Levels are used to support EPA’s decisions to undertake a removal action under CERCLA, such as providing alternative drinking water, or remediation of contaminated media, if necessary.

In addition to updating the Regional Screening Levels and Regional Removal Management Levels, EPA is moving as quickly as possible to update the interim health advisories for PFOA and PFOS to reflect new science and input from the Science Advisory Board. Concurrently, EPA will continue to develop a proposed PFAS National Drinking Water Regulation for publication in fall 2022. EPA anticipates finalizing the rule in fall of 2023.

For more information for risk assessors:

For more information about EPA’s work to address PFAS, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pfas

Walmart sued for allegedly dumping hazardous waste in California

Read the full story from NPR.

California officials have filed a statewide lawsuit against Walmart alleging that the company illegally disposed of hazardous waste at landfills across the state.

In the 42-page document filed Monday by state prosecutors, the lawsuit alleges the retail giant illegally dumped nearly 160,000 pounds of hazardous waste, or more than 1 million items, each year in California over the last six years.

The mess of meth lab cleanups

Read the full story at The Regulatory Review.

Regulations on decontaminating former meth labs vary across federal and state governments.

Supreme Court considers whether US should pay for Guam hazardous waste cleanup

Read the full story at The Hill.

The Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments about whether the U.S. should pay Guam for hazardous waste cleanup over dumping of waste from the Navy at the territory’s Ordot Dump. 

Disposing of E-Cigarette Waste: FAQ for Schools and Others

Download the document.

This publication provides a brief summary of considerations for schools, airports, courts, and other institutions subject to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when dealing with how to handle and dispose of mounting piles of e-cigarette hazardous waste.

Site stabilized, EPA hands off ‘green ooze’ cleanup to state environmental agency

Read the full story in the Detroit News.

A representative for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it had completed its emergency response to groundwater contamination at the former Electro-Plating Services, having spent $3.1 million, and will pass oversight on to state officials.

“Our goal was to stabilize the site … and return the site to EGLE for long-term remediation,” said Tricia Edwards of the EPA during an online update, referring to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. She discussed over a year’s work at a “very complicated site.” 

Edwards said weekly monitoring for hazardous chemicals at the Madison Height site in recent months showed “no imminent threat to humans or the environment.”

How Harsco reimagined its Clean Earth division mid-pandemic as a national hazardous waste player

Read the full story in Waste Dive.

President David Stanton discusses building a new business following the acquisition of assets from Stericycle, pandemic effects on different customers and the big potential around managing PFAS waste.

Developer had big plans for land polluted by the steel industry on Chicago’s Southeast Side. Instead, he flipped the property for millions, and now taxpayers likely will pay for the cleanup.

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

During the last years of Chicago’s once-mighty steel industry, a clout-heavy developer seized an opportunity to make millions while offering the city’s beleaguered Southeast Side a glimmer of hope.

Donald Schroud vowed to create hundreds of jobs by building an industrial park and sports complex on a swath of heavily polluted land he bought in 1994 from one of the last steel companies operating along the Calumet River.

For just $50,000, the deal gave Schroud control of a corner of the city nearly nine times larger than Millennium Park.

Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration embraced the developer’s plans. But another City Hall power broker helped doom the ambitious project from the start.

Now-indicted Ald. Edward Burke shepherded legislation creating a special taxing district intended to provide enough money to clean up Schroud’s land, build roads and install sewers, city records show. Then, working in his private capacity as Schroud’s tax attorney, Burke won an appeal that slashed the land’s value by 75%, depriving the city of millions slated to make the site attractive to new businesses.

A Tribune investigation found Schroud cashed in six years later by flipping half of the property to another developer for $4.2 million — a whopping 84 times more than what he paid for the entire site. He left behind some of the most toxic land in the city, setting back for decades the renewal of neighborhoods devastated by layoffs and lost retirement benefits when steel companies abandoned Chicago…

Last year, the biggest parcel Schroud still owns became the city’s newest Superfund site, a federal designation reserved for the nation’s most contaminated properties. Taxpayers likely will be left with the tab for a long and costly cleanup.

He donated other tracts to a youth baseball organization in the Hegewisch neighborhood. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently discovered that a field the Babe Ruth League built at 126th Place and Carondolet Avenue is contaminated with high levels of toxic manganese. (Schroud did not previously own a nearby ball field cleaned up during the summer by the EPA, according to property records.)

L.A.’s coast was once a DDT dumping ground.

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times.

Shipping logs show that every month in the years after World War II, thousands of barrels of acid sludge laced with this synthetic chemical were boated out to a site near Catalina and dumped into the deep ocean — so vast that, according to common wisdom at the time, it would dilute even the most dangerous poisons.

Regulators reported in the 1980s that the men in charge of getting rid of the DDT waste sometimes took shortcuts and just dumped it closer to shore. And when the barrels were too buoyant to sink on their own, one report said, the crews simply punctured them.

The ocean buried the evidence for generations, but modern technology can take scientists to new depths. In 2011 and 2013, Valentine and his research team were able to identify about 60 barrels and collect a few samples during brief forays at the end of other research missions.