SHORT-CIRCUITING THE FAST-ACTING : 6 COUNTRIES START A PROGRAM TO CUT SHORT-LIVED CLIMATE CHANGE POLLUTANTS

Last week, the State Department announced the formation of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (Coalition).  In what many are calling a response to the extremely slow pace at which the international community is working to negotiate a global climate change treaty, the United States and five other countries are launching the program in an effort to reduce emissions of the most common short-lived, fast-acting climate change pollutants. 

Representatives from Canada, Bangladesh, Ghana, Mexico, and Sweden joined Hillary Clinton in ushering in the effort which will target emissions of methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and black carbon, which are responsible for about one-third of the global warming problem.  These three pollutants stay in the atmosphere for just days or years, unlike carbon dioxide, which remains for about 100 years. 

Continue reading →

PERC-ED UP: EPA HAS RELEASED FINAL HEALTH ASSESSMENT

Contaminated Property

Okay, so it will probably come as no surprise to those readers that know anything about perc (also known as PCE, short for perchloroethylene, another name for tetrachloroethylene – whew!) that, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released it’s final health assessment for the chemical this week, EPA essentially concluded “yep, it’s still bad stuff.”  More specifically (and much more scientifically), the assessment characterized it as a “likely human carcinogen.”  In addition, the assessment cited non-cancer long-term health effects including harm to the nervous system, kidney, liver, immune and hematologic systems. 

Perc is best known for being the chemical solvent widely used in the dry-cleaning industry.  Discharges of perc (mainly from dry-cleaning facilities) have contributed to contamination at many properties.  According to EPA, hundreds of Superfund sites in the country have perc as a contaminant. 

Continue reading →

State Water Board May Soon Adopt the Low-Threat UST Case Closure Policy

Contaminated Property

Last week, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) gave notice of public opportunity to comment on its proposed April adoption of the Water Quality Control Policy for Low-Threat Underground Storage Tank Case Closure (Low-Threat Closure Policy). This should come as welcome news for the thousands of underground storage tank (UST) sites in California because the Low-Threat Closure Policy will hopefully make it easier to obtain closure. 

The Low-Threat Closure Policy recognizes that many petroleum release cases pose a low-threat to human health and the environment. The policy’s purpose is to establish consistent California statewide case closure criteria for low-threat petroleum UST sites. To potentially qualify for closure, the site must satisfy eight general criteria (applicable to all sites), as well as media-specific criteria as it pertains to groundwater, vapor intrusion to indoor air and direct contact, and outdoor air exposure. Below is a brief description of each of these criteria.

The general criteria are as follows:

  • Site must be in a service area of a public water system:  The policy recognizes that while new water supply wells are unlikely to be installed in the shallow groundwater near former UST release sites, it is difficult to predict whether this will always be the case, particularly in rural areas that are undergoing new development. Therefore, the policy is limited to areas with available public drinking water supplies. Continue reading →