July 1, 2009
by Kerry Clines, Senior Editor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson signed a final rule on April 21 to reinstate the 500-pound threshold for certain industrial facilities that report under the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). According to a press release from the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, this final rule reinstates TRI reporting requirements that were replaced by the Bush administration EPA’s TRI Burden Reduction Rule in December 2006. The Omnibus Appropriations Act, signed by President Obama on March 11, 2009, mandated that prior TRI reporting requirements be reestablished. This much stricter stance will have an effect on those operations that also own asphalt and ready-mixed concrete plants that report their use of certain toxic substances. The rule also requires companies that have submitted data for 2008 under the Bush rules to resubmit under the older, stricter requirements.
More information about the new reporting requirements can be found on the EPA Web site, www.epa.gov/tri/.
Along this same line, the Obama administration is proposing sharp reductions in airborne pollution from cement plants, including first-ever limits on mercury from 163 older kilns in 35 states. According to news.moneycentral.msn.com, the EPA says the rules also would lead to steep cuts in emissions of other toxins such as hydrochloric acid, hydrocarbons, soot, and sulfur dioxide. The regulation also seeks to step up monitoring of mercury and develop a more accurate means of demonstrating compliance with soot limits. The EPA estimates that the rules would slash mercury emissions from kilns by 80 to 93 percent, and reduce hydrochloric acid and soot by more than 90 percent.
According to the article, the proposed rule — unless revised — will be published soon and will become final in a year. The EPA will have a 60-day public comment period and a hearing, if requested. Once the regulations are final, the industry will have three years to comply. The Portland Cement Association says it plans to review the proposal.
On a more positive note, the construction industry accounts for less than 1 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to a new analysis of federal environmental data from the EPA. In a press release from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA), Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the AGCA said, “This data shows that we aren’t just constructing cleaner projects, we’re building a cleaner construction industry.” He added that contractors around the country are taking steps to further reduce their emissions and urged other companies to follow suit.
The AGCA urged companies nationwide to review a report titled Potential for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Construction Sector for more suggestions on ways to reduce emissions. The report can be found online at www.epa.gov/sectors/pdf/construction-sector-report.pdf.
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) offers several tools that can be used by members of the aggregates industry to address environmental and sustainability issues. These tools — available at NSSGA’s Web site, www.nssga.org — include:
Wildlife returns to former quarry
At a 240-acre former Aggregate Industries gravel-mining site in Longmont, Colo., wildlife is beginning to return, even though land restoration is still ongoing. According to TimesCall.com, geese, frogs, and ducks are making themselves at home in the sprawling wetlands at the back of the quarry.
A mining permit was issued in 1992 to Golden Companies, which mined the land until Aggregate Industries bought the companies in 1999. Mining operations finished up in 2007 and reclamation began. The company graded the land, put down a layer of topsoil, and reinforced the ponds created by the mining process to make sure they could hold water. It also installed piping to pump water in and out of the area, planted native grass seed, preserved many of the trees, and added more wetlands to some areas.
The land is still considered an active mining site until a Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety specialist reviews the land and releases it for other use, which could take another year or two, but the animals already returning to the area appear to have a different timeline in mind.
Get help addressing MSHA violations
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) Alternative Case Resolution Initiative (ACRI) Workshop is a seminar program that helps the aggregates industry level the playing field with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) when it comes to agency enforcement actions and penalties. As MSHA issues an increasing number of citations, mine operators should plan ways to challenge those citations that are believed to be unwarranted.
The workshop will provide the skills necessary to participate in MSHA’s ACRI process, enabling industry representatives to try to resolve disputes with MSHA over alleged violations. Attendees receive a manual containing form pleadings for use when preparing for both settlement conferences and proceedings with administrative law judges.
According to the NSSGA’s eDigest & Washington Watch, the workshop received rave reviews from past participants. The workshop will help attendees with:
The workshop is scheduled for Aug. 25-27 at the law offices of Patton-Boggs in Denver, Colo., and will be led by Mark Savit, a partner in the law firm and a frequent Aggregates Manager contributor. Space is limited to 30 students. Attendees should be those with executive level responsibility for legal issues or liability and who are involved in safety and health management or participate in MSHA conferences. To get more information or to register for the workshop, go to www.nssga.org/calendar/Safety_2009/acr.html.
Shelley Company division recognized
Stoneco Inc., a division of The Shelly Co., which is a subsidiary of Oldcastle Materials Group, received the 2008 Minerals Education – Public Outreach Award from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Resources, Division of Mineral Resources Management for its work at its Montpelier North Wildlife Site. The award recognizes the group’s efforts to raise awareness about the use of minerals and the issues associated with mining and the environment.
The Montpelier North Wildlife Site sits on a former sand and gravel operation. The site features lakes, wetlands, and many animal species. It recently incorporated an education program established by the Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Program and is working toward a certification as a Wildlife Habitat Council Corporate Lands for Learning site.