COVID-19 EA Regulatory Position Statements (England)

I posted before about the Environment Agency’s Regulatory Position Statements (RPS), and the fact that the Agency is publishing RPS for the COVID-19 crisis.

Yesterday 21st April, the EA has issued further COVID-19 RPS. Here

You will note there are now quite a few of them.

Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics Ban (UK)

UPDATE 3rd August : the 2017 Regulations are now notified to the EU and to the WTO. The EU notification gives detail, and is here

A few days ago, the DEFRA Secretary of State confirmed the UK will introduce a ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. Following consultation, the proposals are summarised :

(1) the ban on manufacture (England) will start 1st Jan 2018 and the ban on sale (England) will start 30th June 2018

(2) precise definitions of “microbead”, “plastic” and “rinse-off personal care product” have been developed to clearly define the scope of the ban

(3) the scope of rinse-off products will be as set out in the consultation, but DEFRA is additionally working with the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee (HSAC) to assess the case for addressing further categories of products

(4) Trading Standards will be the regulator to manage compliance and enforcement in England

(5) enforcement in England will be carried out through a range of sanctions including variable monetary penalties, compliance notices, stop notices and enforcement undertakings

(6) the Devolved Administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) will consider appropriate enforcement mechanisms, regulators and timescales according to devolution settlements.

The summary of DEFRA responses is here.

Legislation is expected by the end of 2017. This is a UK initiative, and is unconnected with the EU. 

Pilliga Gas Project (Australia)

The Federal Minister for the Environment, Australia, has ruled the Santos’ plan to explore for coal seam gas (CCG) in the Pilliga is not a “controlled action” under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This means the new “water trigger” in the Environment and Biodiversity Protection Conservation Act is not invoked (Santos already has state NWS permissions), and a full environmental impact study is not required.

In June, Santos itself made a referral under the federal Environment and Biodiversity Protection Conservation Act seeking federal clearance for the program.

In July, the federal Environment Department confirmed it had received 3,800 submissions concerning Santos’ planned development, the vast majority of which opposed the project. Here is the web presence of one of the campaign groups.

Here is the ABC news article on the Federal Minister’s decision.

Conditions are:

(1) If the threatened Pilliga Mouse, Regent Honeyeater or Koala are found in pre-clearance surveys, no construction is to take place during their breeding season.

(2) Staff and contractors must attend an induction by an ecologist;

(3) The groundwater must be monitored; and

(4) There must be log book records kept of flora and fauna.

The Minister’s decision allows for the felling of up to 400 hollow-bearing trees and the removal of up to 235 Cobar Greenhood Orchids.

Per the ABC news article – Santos says it’s pleased to learn its activities in the Pilliga do not impact water resources or other Commonwealth matters of national environmental significance. Spokesman, Sam Crafter, says the Commonwealth’s decision allows Santos to drill 15 new wells and turn on existing pilots already built by the former operator, Eastern Star Gas.

Vessel Sewage Discharges and No Discharge Zones (US)

Section 312 of the US federal Clean Water Act regulates sewage discharges from vessels, and is implemented jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the US Coast Guard.

“Sewage” is defined under the Clean Water Act as “human body wastes and the waste from toilets and other receptacles intended to receive or retain body wastes”, and includes grey water discharges from commercial vessels (as defined at 33 U.S.C. 1322(a)(10)) operating on the Great Lakes. Under section 312 of the Clean Water Act, vessel sewage is controlled by regulating the equipment that treats or holds the sewage (marine sanitation devices), and through the establishment of areas in which the discharge of sewage from vessels is not allowed (no discharge zones).

Here is the USEPA information on No Discharge Zones (NDZ).

Here is the USEPA information on Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs).

Here are the NDZ in USEPA Region 2.

Here is the (USEPA Region 2) second opportunity for public comment on an NDZ for Lake Erie.

Drinking Water Arsenic Settlement (US)

Settlement is announced today (fines) with the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs for violation of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act at the Keams Canyon Public Water Supply system.

Here is the USEPA press release.

The Keams Canyon public water supply system, located on the Hopi Reservation, is owned and operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and serves a population of approximately 2,000 people. The USEPA found the BIA exceeded drinking water standards for arsenic and failed to monitor for arsenic and disinfection compounds. The system is now fully compliant with these requirements.

Wetland Restoration part of CWA Settlement (US)

Agreement to undertake wetland restoration, in lieu of a portion of the financial penalty, is part of the settlement with USEPA (Iowa) for violations of a land spreading NPDES Permit issued under the US federal Clean Water Act.

The company (an animal feeding activity) did not maintain adequate records for its land application of liquid effluent and manure from its feedlot, and did not conduct materials and soils sampling, as required by their NPDES permit.

An NPDES permit is a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Here is USEPA information about NPDES permits and these type of (concentrated) animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Here is the USEPA press release on the settlement.

Federal Water Quality Standards Regulation (US)

A new rule is proposed by the USEPA to clarify the federal water standards (WQS) regulation at 40 CFR 131 that interprets part of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

Here is the USEPA webpage giving information on the consultation that ends December 3, 2013.

The proposed rule addresses the following WQS programme areas:
(1) the USEPA Administrator’s determinations that new or revised water quality standards are necessary,
(2) designated uses for water bodies,
(3) triennial reviews of state and tribal WQS (water quality standards),
(4) antidegradation provisions to protect water quality,
(5) variances to WQS, and
(6) compliance schedule authorizing provisions.

Here are the changes proposed.

Here is the USEPA fact sheet on the subject.

Clean Water Act “Definition of Waters of the United States” (US)

A new rule will clarify the waters to be regulated under the US Clean Water Act (CWA).

Here is the USEPA webpage with information and giving access to applicable documents, including the results of action in the US courts, and the current definition being referred to (40 CFR 230.3(s)).

Already in operation is draft guidance – see here for the USEPA summary of the 2011 draft guidance.

Here is the 2011 draft guidance itself.

Here is 40 CFR 230.3 (CWA definitions) on its own. The definition of “waters of the United States” – waters subject to the US federal Clean Water Act – is found at 40 CFR 230.3(s) on the next page at (s)).

The definition is also found at 40 CFR 122.2 here. Scroll down to waters of the United States or waters of the US.

Changes to Clean Water Act CAFOs (US Iowa)

The USA EPA has reached agreement with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) for it to make changes to Iowa’s Clean Water Act (CWA) permit and compliance program for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Included in this agreement are IDNR’s commitments to:

* carry out a comprehensive survey of all large CAFOs and medium animal feeding operations that currently don’t have CWA wastewater discharge permits and identify those that discharge to natural water and have failed to comply with the permit application or other Iowa requirements,

* inspect all permitted NPDES CAFOs within five years following an agreed upon inspection procedure,

* issue timely wastewater discharge permits to all CAFOs determined to discharge to local waterways.

Also, Iowa’s CAFO rules will be changed to align with the federal CWA.

Further information is found in the USEPA Press Release.