Archive | June, 2011

Nanotechnology and Environmental Law- A new blog topic

29 Jun

In light of numerous requests, we are adding nanotechnology as a new topic to our blog.  Please check back frequently for updates, add this blog to your RSS feed (under the favorites tab in Windows Explorer), or subscibe to our weekly e-mail updates (on the right of your screen).

Few new technologies have generated as much attention and buzz as nanotechnology.  The use of nanomaterials is proposed, or already in use, for medicines, electronics, biomaterials, pesticides, and numerous other applications.  While there is no universally accepted definition, nanotechnology or nanomaterials basically refers to ultra-small molecules, typically between 1 and 100 nanometers long in one dimension.  The utility of nanoparticles derives from their extremely small size, low weights, and large surface areas.  Nano-materials may be functionalized much as any other chemical.   (more…)

EPA Penalties- How did they calculate up with that number?

22 Jun

An article of ours discussing some of the methods used by EPA to calculate penalties was published in the April issue of the Illinois Association of Environmental Professionals Network.  In particular, the article covers the RCRA Subtitle C (hazardous waste) penalty policy, the hazardous substance release enforcement response policy (covering EPCRA Sections 304, 311, and 312 and CERCLA Section 103), and the Clean Air Act Stationary Source Civil Policy.

EPA Penalties- How did they come up with that number

If you have any questions regarding EPA enforcement and the penalty policies, contact us at 773-609-5320 or info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

Regulation of Hazardous Waste in Academic Laboratories

21 Jun

In December 2008, the EPA promulgated specific regulations that cover the hazardous waste used by academic laboratories. The regulations can be found at 40 CFR 262 Subpart K. These regulations provide alternative accumulation opportunities for qualifying entities. Specifically, the regulations exempt a qualifying institution from satellite accumulation area generator regulations. Under Subpart K, all wastes must be identified by a trained professional and must be removed every six months. In addition, the institution must create a Laboratory Management Plan, which describes its waste disposal policies.

Subpart K provides many potential advantages over the traditional RCRA scheme. For example, Subpart K provides labs with incentives to “clean-out” stockpiles of old chemicals by exempting these materials from the facility’s total generation of hazardous waste for purposes of determining generator quantity. (more…)

Using Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) to settle cases

20 Jun

Instead of simply paying a penalty to settle a matter with EPA, a facility can propose one or more supplemental environmental projects (SEPs). The cost of the SEP is used to offset part of the proposed penalty. Furthermore, since EPA issues press releases for all complaints and settlements, a SEP that benefits the surrounding community can reduce any public relations outfall associated with the enforcement.

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Stephen Thorn appointed to ISBA Environmental Section Council

18 Jun

Stephen Thorn has been appointed to the Environmental Law Section Council of the Illinois State Bar Association.  The Council evaluates and makes recommendations regarding existing and proposed legislation and regulations in the environmental law field.  The Council also monitors developments in the environmental law field and disseminates relevant information to other attorneys and business, industrial, government, and agricultural interests.

If you have any questions regarding the Council, contact us at 773-609-5320 or info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

Environmental Audits and Self-Disclosure: Two powerful tools to maintain compliance and avoid agency penalties

17 Jun

Too often companies believe they are in compliance with environmental regulations only to find out after an inspection that they had serious compliance problems and are now faced with large penalties and hefty legal bills.  Unfortunately, much like doctors, attorneys and environmental consultants are often consulted after a problem has arisen.  At that point, the primary option is damage control and not preventative maintenance.  Environmental audits, either comprehensive or taken over select statutes, amount to a check-up that is a cost-effective way of preventing environmental releases and government enforcement.

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How does EPA calculate its penalties?

10 Jun

While it varies by statute, the maximum penalty for most statutes is $37,500 per violation occurring after January 12, 2009.  Needless to say, imposing the maximum penalty possible for every violation does not accurately reflect a violation’s relative threat to the environment or degree of noncompliance with the regulatory program.  In order to differentiate between violations and to allow for the uniform assessment of penalties throughout the United States, U.S. EPA has devised penalty policies for its enforcement programs.

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