Thursday, February 10, 2011

Confidential Business Information CBI Eligibility Denied By EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has notified five companies that the identities of 14 chemicals associated with a number of health and safety studies submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and claimed as confidential are not eligible for confidential treatment. Last year, EPA put in place a plan to review confidentiality claims for the name of chemicals addressed in health and safety studies. Under these new procedures EPA is moving to declassify many chemical identities so they are no longer secret. EPA expects that more chemical names connected with health and safety studies will be released in the future. The agency plans to deny confidentiality claims for chemical identity in health and safety studies provided to the agency under TSCA unless the chemical identity contains process or mixture information that is expressly protected by the law.

Under TSCA, companies may claim that information they submit to EPA should be treated as confidential business information (CBI) and not be disclosed to the public. Companies that manufacture, process, or distribute chemicals are required to immediately provide notice to EPA if they learn that a chemical presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment. The reports are made available on EPA’s website, but when the identity of the chemical has been claimed confidential by a company, the name of the chemical has been removed from the copy of the report that is made public.

EPA has begun reviewing past CBI claims for chemical identity in health and safety studies. Where EPA determines that the information is not eligible for confidential treatment under the law, the agency will notify companies of the determination and that EPA will make the information public on the 31st day after receiving the determination unless the company challenges the disclosure in federal court.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address Environmental Review and Environmental Impact Assessment.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

EPA Proposing Adding Vapor Intrusion To CERCLA Hazard Ranking

U.S. EPA is proposing to amend the ranking system used to assess potential “Superfund” sites to include potential vapor intrusion. The Hazard Ranking System (HRS), required by the Superfund statute, is the primary mechanism used by EPA to assess the relative threat associated with actual or potential releases of hazardous substances. Sites that score 28.50 or greater under the HRS are eligible for inclusion on the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is intended primarily to guide the EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation. A score of 28.50 does not represent a specified level of risk but is a cutoff point that serves as a screening-level indicator of the highest priority releases or threatened releases.

The HRS includes four scoring pathways - ground water, surface water, air and soil exposure. Additional pathways have been identified by EPA as posing significant threats to human health and the environment, and one such pathway is vapor intrusion. Vapor intrusion occurs when contaminants enter into indoor spaces, generally residences, from environmental sources such as contaminated ground water or contaminated soil.

Historically, EPA's Superfund program has responded to vapor intrusion contamination by two mechanisms: (1) through its emergency response program at sites not on the NPL, or (2) through sites placed on the NPL because of other pathway-related risks. In May 2010, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that concluded that if vapor intrusion sites are not assessed and, if needed, listed on the NPL, some seriously contaminated hazardous waste sites with unacceptable human exposure may not otherwise be cleaned up. In response, EPA is proposing to add a new HRS pathway so that sites with vapor intrusion contamination can be evaluated for inclusion on the NPL.

EPA initiated rulemaking in January 2011, and current expects final rules to be completed by January 2012.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address Environmental Review and Environmental Impact Assessment.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Perchlorate and VOC Standards For Drinking Water Supplies

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the agency’s decision to develop to regulate perchlorate in drinking water. The decision will lead to the development of the first-ever national standard for perchlorate. In a separate action, the agency also plans to establish a drinking water standard to address a group of up to 16 toxic chemicals that may pose risks to human health. According to EPA, scientific research indicates that perchlorate may disrupt the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones that are critical to developing fetuses and infants. Monitoring data show more than 4% of public water systems have detected perchlorate and 5 - 17 million people may be served drinking water containing perchlorate. Perchlorate is both a naturally-occurring and man-made chemical that is used in the manufacture of rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives, and may be present in bleach and in some fertilizers. This decision reverses a 2008 preliminary determination by the previous administration. EPA expects to continue to evaluate potential perchlorate health effects and occurrence in public water systems. The agency will also evaluate the feasibility and affordability of treatment technologies to remove perchlorate and examine the costs and benefits of potential standards. EPA will also be developing one regulation covering as many as 16 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), includes trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) as well as other regulated and some unregulated contaminants that are discharged from industrial operations. The VOC standard will be developed as part of EPA’s new strategy for drinking water to address contaminants as groups rather than individually in order to provide public health protections more quickly and also allow utilities to more effectively and efficiently plan for improvements.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address Environmental Review and Environmental Impact Assessment.

Caltha Environmental Review Website