MassDEP's Regulatory Reform: Sweeping Array of Regulation Changes on Streamlining Improvements to be Promulgated in Next Three Months
MassDEP is on the home stretch of its Regulatory Reform Initiative, with final regulations being promulgated in early 2014 that will simplify, streamline and improve many of the agency's programs, while maintaining the same or better environmental protection. In 2011, MassDEP launched a major initiative to look for possible improvements to all of the agency's regulatory areas. After working closely with external stakeholders and going through the public comment process, these across-the-board reforms are now being finalized and published as final regulations. The last of the regulation changes will be promulgated by April 2014.
Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell kicked off MassDEP's Regulatory Reform Initiative with the goal of maintaining the agency's current high standards of environmental protection with a drastically reduced present level of staff (which dropped more than 30 percent since 2002). MassDEP's Regulatory Reform Initiative was also a mechanism for reviewing existing regulations to identify efficiency improvements as required of all state agencies under the Economic Development Reorganization Act of 2010.
The resulting programmatic changes, which are now being codified into final regulations, will achieve efficiencies without sacrificing environmental standards by disinvesting from low-value activities, relying on other regulatory entities where redundant oversight currently exists, and utilizing authorized third parties rather than agency resources. The regulatory changes, which began to be promulgated in December 2013, include improvements to the following MassDEP programs: waste site cleanups/MCP; public waterfront protection/Chapter 91; wetlands; wastewater permitting; septic systems/Title 5; solid waste transfer stations and landfills; asbestos abatement; and clean energy projects.
Anyone can sign up to receive notice of MassDEP's proposed and final regulation changes, including those associated with the Regulatory Reform Initiative, at the following link: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/service/online/sign-up-for-updates.html .
Charged-up for Solar-on-Landfill Energy Projects
A key Patrick Administration environmental priority is the generation of more renewable energy at old landfills and contaminated parcels. Successes abound, and are continuing as MassDEP enters 2014.
The Clean Energy Results Program (CERP) was launched in November of 2011, and the Patrick Administration set very aggressive targets for renewable energy. For instance, on environmentally challenged properties like landfills and Brownfields, the initial goal was to develop 50 megawatts of clean energy by 2020, but that goal is expect to be surpassed soon.
In the past few years, MassDEP has approved 42 projects that would place more than 83 megawatts of solar or wind on top of closed landfills across the state; 15 of those projects (13 solar, 2 wind) are already operating. Those operating projects are currently producing 23.6 megawatts of renewable energy. Now, the Commonwealth adds to that with the energy being produced by the newly installed solar arrays in Marshfield and Sudbury, and with the fact that another eight projects are either under construction or close to completion. And recently, MassDEP announced that another three solar-on-landfill projects were approved on Cape Cod and the Islands - in Provincetown, West Tisbury and Orleans.
As a result of this success, the Patrick Administration has increased its solar development targets to place 75 megawatts of clean energy on closed landfills by 2020, and develop another 50 megawatts of clean energy on contaminated land by 2020. For more information on these projects, go to: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/service/energy/landfills/landfills-with-post-closure-use-permits-for-renewables.html .
Patrick Administration Announces $1.27 Million in Watershed Stewardship Grants
The Patrick Administration's efforts to promote environmental stewardship continued in early November when MassDEP selected seven projects across the state slated to receive $1.27 million in federal grants through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The projects, located in Amesbury, Greenfield, Ipswich, Leominster and Plymouth, will implement or demonstrate best management practices that diminish or work to reduce the effects of polluted stormwater runoff. A Barnstable County-based project and a separate statewide project will each develop and distribute information and materials needed to support local outreach and education efforts to address impacts of polluted stormwater.
The grant program focuses on implementation of measures to control non-point source (NPS) pollution to surface and ground water. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters. Common types of NPS pollution include phosphorus and nitrogen from lawn and garden fertilizers and agricultural operations, bacteria from pet waste and waterfowl, oil and grease from parking lots and roadways and sediment from construction activities and soil erosion. Unlike pollution from industrial facilities and sewage treatment plants, NPS pollution is unregulated and comes from diffuse sources.
"These grant awards allow us to continue to build strong coalitions with our regional and municipal partners to help control non-point source pollution," said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. "Many of these projects also seek to educate citizens about the dangers of non-point source pollution and how to eliminate it."
These projects will help to protect Massachusetts' water resources by restoring and preserving watershed areas, constructing best management practices, demonstrating innovative technologies and educating the public on how to protect sensitive natural resources. Recipients include municipalities, county governments, regional planning agencies, environmental groups and private consultants.
The funded projects are:
- Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment - "Investigation of Passive Nitrogen Removal Strategies for Onsite Septic Systems at the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center" - $85,725
- Town of Plymouth - "White Island Pond Phosphorus Inactivation Project" - $260,232
- Massachusetts Watershed Coalition - "Moosnoc Brook Renewal Project, Leominster" - $229,000
- Franklin Regional Council of Governments - "Using Low Impact Development Techniques to Manage Stormwater Runoff in Greenfield" - $218,600
- Town of Amesbury - "Lake Gardner and Powow River NPS Improvement Project" - $166,960
- Town of Ipswich - "Ipswich River Watershed Best Management Practices Implementation at Farley Brook" - $261,600
- Comprehensive Environmental, Inc. - "Tree Canopy Stormwater Implementation and Outreach Program, Statewide" - $47,976
MassDEP Completes Environmental Justice Initiative in Springfield to Ensure Compliance with Environmental Regulations
MassDEP recently announced the successful completion of an environmental compliance and enforcement initiative in the Ward 1 area of the City of Springfield that identified a number of environmental noncompliance issues, which resulted in $40,000 in penalties levied against violators, as well as a push to return to compliance.
The initiative was conducted in conjunction with Springfield officials and representatives of the New North Citizen's Council, Inc. During the initiative, MassDEP conducted approximately 100 inspections, collected and analyzed Connecticut River water samples, installed an air quality monitor and set up cameras to watch for illegal dumping. As a result, MassDEP issued the penalties, identified potential illegal discharge points into the river, uncovered multiple environmental noncompliance issues at several facilities and provided technical assistance to small businesses.
"This initiative has helped MassDEP to develop effective strategies to strengthen community partnerships, successfully implement the Commonwealth's Environmental Justice Policy and bring sites back into compliance," said MassDEP Deputy Commissioner Gary Moran.
The Ward 1 effort included numerous neighborhood inspections of vehicle idling; inspections of properties where demolition was occurring to ensure proper asbestos abatement measures; inspections of 72 potential Brownfields properties to help identify areas for re-development; inspections of 32 registered or permitted facilities, such as auto body and auto repair shops, transit facilities, hospitals and junkyards; inspections of 14 unregistered facilities; installation of an air monitor at the Gerena School; and five rounds of bacteria sampling from seven locations along the river.
For more information on this initiative, go to: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/news/releases/environmental-justice-initiative-in-springfield-.html .
Hampden Country Club Penalized, Required to Restore Impacted Wetlands along Watchaug Brook
Hampden Country Club, LLC has been fined $115,860 by MassDEP and required to restore all rivers, streams, ponds and freshwater wetlands that were altered without permits during a construction project that began in 2012.
A MassDEP inspection of the site adjacent to the Watchaug Brook confirmed that golf course reconstruction activity involved heavy equipment within the brook without a wetlands permit. The country club also failed to secure federal and state permits as required. The work resulted in significant alterations and loss of resource areas, filled in and placed segments of the brook within a pipe, filled wetlands, altered ponds and discharged muddy water into the brook. MassDEP issued a cease-and-desist order and required site stabilization to prevent further erosion.
In a settlement with MassDEP, the country club is required to fully restore all impacted water resources and restore sections of the Watchaug Brook that had been piped to a natural channel with adjacent wetlands. For more details on the case, go to: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/news/releases/hampden-country-club-assessed-115860-penalty-.html .
Clean Harbors and Affiliate Penalized for Hazardous Waste Violations, Must Re-train Staff in Proper Handling of Waste Material
Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc. of Norwell, and its affiliate, Murphy's Waste Oil Service of Woburn, have been penalized $112,500 for allegedly transporting waste oil from unregistered facilities and submitting inaccurate reports to MassDEP. The companies must also take additional steps to ensure future compliance with environmental laws regulating the transportation of hazardous waste.
Between April 2009 and December 2011, MassDEP identified nearly 500 alleged instances where Clean Harbors and Murphy's accepted hazardous waste from facilities that did not have valid identification numbers. The companies also submitted inaccurate monthly reports that listed invalid identification numbers or numbers that did not correspond with those listed in manifests filed with MassDEP.
"Hazardous wastes are handled in Massachusetts under a cradle-to-grave system that is only as good as those companies that accurately report the wastes under their control," said MassDEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell. "From generation to disposal, companies must do the right thing or our health and the environment are threatened."
Under a settlement, the companies must pay $75,000 of the assessed penalty, take steps to ensure that they are only accepting waste from registered facilities, and provide training to all current and future employees. For more information on this case, go to: http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2013/2013-09-20-clean-harbors-murphys-waste-complaint.html .
Northborough Man Sentenced for Operating an Illegal Dump
A Northborough man found guilty of operating an illegal dump was sentenced to one year in jail following his trial in Worcester Superior Court, with the sentence suspended to five years of probation. Judge Richard J. Tucker also ordered Santo Anza to remove all the solid waste from the site. Anza is also prohibited from working with any solid waste in any community for the next five years.
The case, which was successfully prosecuted by the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley, was ably assisted by the efforts of MassDEP attorney MaryJude Pigsley and staffers Andrea Briggs, Lynne Welsh, Mike Penny, Greg Root, Paul Dwiggins, Jim McQuade and Michelle Delemarre.
Judge Tucker also ordered that Anza, within 60 days, develop a plan and schedule to remove all the solid waste from the site, subject to approval by MassDEP. Anza was sentenced to serve an additional five years of probation for violations of the Massachusetts Clean Air Act.
The illegal dump unlawfully accepted more than 2 million pounds of solid waste, fouling the air and polluting the environment. Several residents from the surrounding community delivered impact statements in court describing the negative effect that Anza's illegal dump site on his Whitney Street property had on their lives, including details on how they suffered from the sights, sounds and smells of the illegal operation that emitted rotten odors.
For more information on this case, go to: http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2013/2013-08-01-santo-anza-guilty.html .
'MassCleanDiesel' Program Grants Help to Eliminate 2,400 Tons of Pollutants from Refrigerated Trailers, Diesel Trucks
Twenty-five trucking and food service companies have eliminated 2,400 tons of emissions from their diesel refrigerated trailers and long-haul trucks, collectively saving $707,623 in fuel costs, as part of the Patrick Administration's award of $983,907 in grants from the MassCleanDiesel: Clean Markets Program.
MassDEP targeted these companies serving wholesale food markets, distribution centers and warehouses for pollution reductions because long-haul trucks and storage trailers run their diesel engines to refrigerate their products while waiting to unload at one of these types of facilities. Operating diesel engines under these conditions can have a significant impact on the air quality in adjacent communities, and many of these markets are located in dense, urban areas.
Three different technologies are being used to address the diesel emissions, and each technology reduces particulates known as PM2.5 emissions by at least 20 percent. Collectively, this means that PM2.5 emissions will be reduced by more than nine tons each year from the 75 trucks and trailers involved in the program. PM2.5 is a pollutant that has been implicated in the state's high pediatric asthma rate and is considered a probable carcinogen. This program will also help to reduce emissions of hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
For more information about the grant program and the companies involved in the program, go to: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/news/releases/more-than-2400-tons-of-diesel-pollutants-eliminated-.html .
Massachusetts Joins Effort to Curb Air Emissions from Upwind States
Massachusetts recently joined seven other Ozone Transport Region states in petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require upwind states to reduce air pollution generated within their borders, which causes public health problems in downwind states like Massachusetts.
The multi-state action is aimed at requiring nine upwind states, such as Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia, to be "good neighbors" by reducing air emissions that are carried by prevailing winds and contribute to the formation of ozone in states to the north and east. This effort will also level the playing field for businesses operating in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. As part of the federal Clean Air Act, the EPA has 18 months to decide whether to require the nine upwind states to join the Ozone Transport Region and begin to implement air pollution reductions.
Massachusetts and its OTR partner states have already implemented significant air pollution control measures to cut ozone pollution, but the states continue to be impacted from pollution generated in upwind states, and those emissions threaten the health, economic vitality and quality of life in the downwind areas. For more information on the OTR issue, go to: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/news/releases/northeast-and-mid-atlantic-states-seek-air-pollution-curb.html .