MathyStanislaus

About Mathy Stanislaus

Posts by Mathy Stanislaus:

Making Significant Progress in Land Cleanup, Prevention and Emergency Management

Recently, we’ve had two exciting accomplishments – we’ve released our annual Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response 2014 Accomplishments Report and launched a new Twitter account, @EPAland.

First, the report. With 51 percent of America’s population living within three miles of a Superfund, brownfield, or Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action site, our cleanup activities are an important part of people’s lives. Our annual interactive accomplishments report helps those affected by our programs understand how we clean up contaminated sites, ensure communities are prepared in the event of an oil spill or chemical accident, and responsibly manage and control hazardous and non-hazardous materials.  In fiscal year 2014, we:

  • Conducted 466 inspections at industrial facilities across the country handling extremely hazardous chemicals.
  • Made 11,161 Superfund, RCRA corrective action, brownfields and leaking underground storage sites ready for anticipated use by communities.
  • Completed or oversaw 304 Superfund removal actions to contain and remove contaminants and eliminate dangers to the public.
  • Increased the number of sites where human exposure to harmful chemicals is under control to 82 percent of Superfund sites and 87 percent of RCRA corrective action sites.
    Leveraged more than $418 million in community investments with brownfields area-wide planning grants.
  • Worked with federal agencies and Navajo Nation to assess 520 miles, 800 homes and 240 drinking water wells potentially contaminated by abandoned uranium mines.
Mathy Stanislaus speaks with a chemical facility representative.

Mathy Stanislaus speaks with a chemical facility representative.

The report also provides an update on the sustainable materials management (SMM) program’s efforts to reduce the amount of materials people and businesses consume and integrate SMM into business practices to conserve natural resources and stay competitive globally. In fiscal year 2014, we worked with our partners to:

  • Divert 375,000 tons of food from landfills.
  • Collect more than 220,000 tons of used electronics.
  • Save $42 million for U.S. taxpayers by reducing the federal government’s waste, water, and electricity usage.

Addressing the complex environmental challenges facing us today is a shared responsibility.  The activities highlighted in the report would not be possible without partnerships with state and tribal co-regulators, local governments, and the regulated community. I want to thank all of our stakeholders and partners for their commitment to our mission.

Finally, we’ve launched the @EPAland Twitter account to help you stay up to date on local site cleanups, learn about renewable energy technologies on contaminated sites, understand how we respond to hazardous material emergencies and more. We encourage you to stay engaged in our programs and your feedback is important to us. Join the conversation today, I’ll see you there.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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E-Manifest: Partnering to Build a 21st Century Solution for Hazardous Waste Tracking

Last year, I announced that we were embarking on the development of e-Manifest, to upgrade the current paper-based system of tracking hazardous waste to an electronic one, streamlining and greatly reducing the millions of paper manifests produced each year. E-Manifest will save industry an estimated $75 million per year, improve inspection and enforcement by EPA and the states, and improve public safety by providing timely and better quality information on hazardous waste transport to emergency responders.

Hazardous waste generated in the United States must be tracked from “cradle to grave” to ensure it is handled, shipped, and disposed of in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

We’ve made significant progress over the last year working with the states, industry, and other stakeholders on the development of e-Manifest.

We held a series of extensive technical meetings to discuss key issues, including:

  • Current industry and state operations and information technology (IT) systems that support manifests.
  • Industry and state expectations and requirements for interacting with e-Manifest.
  • State and industry data access needs and reports available from the e-Manifest system.

This work is essential to designing, building and ultimately deploying the national system, and the agency will soon procure appropriate vendors to achieve these goals. We will be in close contact with users and other stakeholders to pilot and test the system every step of the way as we proceed.

On February 18, 2015 we asked for nominations from individuals interested in service on this e-Manifest Board, ensuring there is representation from states, industry, and IT professionals. View the Federal Register Notice for more information.

Another important step needed before the e-Manifest program can be fully implemented is to establish the initial fee structure for users of the system. We are working closely with states and industry stakeholders, and anticipate the proposed rule establishing the fee model for the system will be ready for public comment by May of 2016.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Understanding the Benefits of Using a Community-Wide Approach to Reusing Brownfield Properties

When I joined EPA, I wanted to continue to help communities address their brownfield sites in a coordinated way – to bring the community, federal resources and stakeholders together to plan for the revitalization of neighborhoods, particularly in communities facing economic distress and disruption. EPA’s Area-Wide Planning (AWP) grants were modeled after New York State’s Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) program which provided a framework for communities to draft brownfields revitalization plans and consider implementation strategies.

The AWP grants recognize that successful, sustained community revitalization occurs by fostering inclusive revitalization planning among neighborhood stakeholders, local governments and the private sector. This locally driven planning advances health and inclusive economic development by fostering public-private strategies for community-wide improvements such as infrastructure investments to catalyze redevelopment opportunities on brownfield sites – the types of investments needed to equitably revitalize communities in ways that meet local community needs for jobs, recreation, housing, and increased tax base. The program recognizes the need to affirmatively address environmental justice concerns, and rejected the notion that only low market uses can be built on brownfield sites in low- and moderate-income communities.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Another Way to Act on Climate: Getting Smart on Brownfields Reuse

For 20 years, the brownfields program has worked with local communities to help support reuse and development of former and current contaminated lands. Cleaning up brownfields has put a lot of land back into use, helping communities and boosting local economies. This work has another huge benefit, too: as we redevelop brownfield sites to significantly reduce the impact of climate change.

In Milwaukee, a 5-mile strip that was once the site of several industrial facilities is going through an extensive cleanup. Over 60,000 tons of contaminated soil and more than 40 underground storage tanks have been removed. One of the community’s ideas for the land’s next use is building a green, linear park, with bike trails to encourage lower-impact forms of transit. The park will use green infrastructure elements to reduce stormwater runoff, protecting local waterways during storms that can be made more intense by climate change.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Greening the Game

Millions of Americans across the country tuned into the big game a couple weeks ago, which was played for the first time under energy-efficient LED lighting. Why the switch? These lights use at least 75 percent less power than incandescent, saving the venue money on its energy bill and energy, which helps reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

The NFL isn’t alone in its journey to fight climate change by becoming more sustainable. Last week we highlighted a number of leading sports teams, organizations, and venues across the industry who are taking action, including our work with greening collegiate sports though the Game Day Recycling Challenge and the collegiate sports sustainability summit. Recycling conserves vital resources, saves energy, and, in 2012, reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road for a year. Recycling also creates green jobs and provides essential resources. And during her recent visit to the X Games in Colorado, our Administrator Gina McCarthy, heard first-hand from athletes and the businesses that support them how they are working to protect their winters from climate change.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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La norma nueva mantendrá a las comunidades seguras de las cenizas de carbón

Por Mathy Stanislaus

 

Temprano en la mañana del 22 de diciembre de 2008, hubo una avería en una represa de la Autoridad del Valle de Tennesse en la Central Eléctrica de Combustibles Fósiles de Kingston cerca de Knoxville, la cual derramó 1.1 mil millones de galones de lodo de cenizas de carbón sobre un área de unos 300 acres. Las cenizas inundaron el río Emory y cubrieron las casas, las cuales pusieron en riesgo la salud de la gente y el medio ambiente. Hubo una ruptura en una importante tubería de gas, varias casas fueron destruidas y un vecindario cercano fue evacuado. Las cenizas de carbón son desechos producidos de la generación de energía a base de carbon, y contienen elementos tóxicos como mercurio, cadmio y arsénico. Esto constituye riesgos significativos a la salud si penetra el abastecimiento de agua potable o se mezcla con el aire que respiramos.
Hoy, la administradora Gina McCarthy firmó una nueva norma para ayudar a asegurar que esto no vuelva a ocurrir y que las cenizas de carbón se manejen de manera segura. Esta nueva norma protege las comunidades de las fallas en los embalses de cenizas de carbón, como la falla catastrófica de Kingston, Tenn., así como de derrames y establece salvaguardias para prevenir la contaminación del agua subterránea y las emisiones de aire de la disposición de las cenizas de carbón.
Después del derrame de Kingston, lanzamos un esfuerzo nacional para determinar cómo podríamos proteger a las comunidades de los costos ambientales y económicos en caso de que ocurriera otro derrame de cenizas de carbón. Evaluamos la integridad estructural de más de 500 embalses superficiales y otras estructuras donde se almacenan las cenizas de carbón. Comenzamos con los embalses que tienen el mayor potencial de daños en caso de que estos fallaran. También estudiamos extensamente los efectos de las cenizas de carbón en el medio ambiente y la salud pública y evaluamos más de 450,000 comentarios sobre nuestra norma propuesta, escuchamos los testimonios en ocho audiencias públicas y revisamos comentarios acerca de las notificaciones de nuevos datos y análisis.
La norma nueva fue formulada conforme a nuestros hallazgos en este proceso. Esta requiere que los embalses y vertederos sean inspeccionados regularmente para determinar su seguridad estructural, y monitorear las aguas subterráneas cercanas para identificar señales de fugas. Los dueños de centrales eléctricas serán requeridos de proveer actualizaciones regularmente sobre su cumplimiento. También tendrán todavía la oportunidad de reciclar las cenizas de carbón, lo cual les ahorra los costos de disposición mientras reduce las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero y la cantidad de otros recursos que utilizamos.
Las comunidades y los estados desempeñarán un papel en la implementación de la norma nueva, también. La gente podrá obtener información con mayor facilidad acerca de los embalses de cenizas de carbón cerca de sus hogares. Los estados trabajarán con nosotros para crear sus propios planes para implementar los nuevos requisitos.
Estamos comprometidos con mantener las comunidades seguras de otros derrames de cenizas de carbón. Esta nueva norma ayudará a asegurar que los derramos como el ocurrido en la central de Kinston nunca volverán a suceder.

Infórmese: http://www2.epa.gov/coalash

 

 

Acerca del autor: Mathy Stanislaus es el administrador adjunto de la Oficina de Desechos Sólidos y Respuesta a Emergencias (OSWER, por sus siglas en inglés).

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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New Rule Will Keep Communities Safe from Coal Ash

Early in the morning on December 22, 2008, a dam failed at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant near Knoxville, spilling 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash over a roughly 300-acre area. The ash flooded into the Emory River and covered homes, putting people’s health and the environment at risk. A major gas line was ruptured, several houses destroyed and a nearby neighborhood evacuated. Coal ash is the waste produced from coal power generation, and it contains toxic elements like mercury, cadmium and arsenic. It poses significant health risks if it gets into drinking water or mixes with the air we breathe.

Today, Administrator Gina McCarthy signed a new rule to help ensure that this doesn’t happen again and that coal ash is managed safely. This new rule protects communities from coal ash impoundment failures, like the catastrophic Kingston, Tennessee spill, and establishes safeguards to prevent groundwater contamination and air emissions from coal ash disposal.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Protecting Our Communities through Safe and Legitimate Recycling

When you drop your bottles and cans off in the recycling bin or at a recycling center, you’re helping to protect the environment and your community.

But not everything is as safe to recycle as plastic and aluminum. Some materials that get recycled are hazardous – like byproducts and substances from industrial processes. If they’re not recycled carefully they can put people’s health at risk. What’s worse, many recyclers that deal with hazardous materials are located close to minority and low-income communities that already face a lot of environmental challenges.

Our administrator just signed a new rule called the Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) rule. It’s a major environmental justice milestone that directly addresses mismanagement of hazardous materials at some of these recycling facilities.

In 2009, we held a public meeting to talk about our existing DSW rule, created in 2008. We heard from dozens of people who felt we needed to better analyze the rule’s impact on minority and low income people. We also heard from recyclers and manufacturers about the benefits of safely recycling hazardous materials – from job creation and other economic benefits to a healthier environment and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. So, we made the commitment to take a closer look at the potential environmental justice impacts of the 2008 DSW rule, and at opportunities for preserving and expanding safe recycling of hazardous materials.

We examined the location of recycling facilities and their proximity and potential impact to nearby communities. Our analysis confirmed that, in many cases, the public comments were correct. Communities needed a way to participate in the conversation about these recyclers’ activities, and recyclers needed to take more preventive steps, like being more prepared to contain spills and better training for their staff. More state and EPA oversight was needed, too.

The 2014 DSW rule adds some new requirements to ensure that hazardous waste is legitimately recycled and not being disposed of illegally. It requires recyclers to get a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit or verified recycler variance from us or their state, so that the recyclers’ safety measures can be verified and nearby communities can be protected. Recyclers who seek a permit or variance will be required to give communities an opportunity to weigh in about their location and plans.

Unfortunately, there have been cases where off-site recycling has been mismanaged. In these cases, hazardous materials have been released into communities, endangering the health of people and the environment. For example, one facility in Allenport, Pennsylvania, was recycling spent pickle liquor, a highly acidic solution used to remove impurities during steel manufacturing. This recycler didn’t have a RCRA permitand, when it chose its location, the nearby community wasn’t given a chance to provide input. In 1997, hazardous sludge from the recycling process spilled and was washed into an adjacent railroad bed next to a community playground. Later in 2004, the recycler’s storage tanks failed and spilled spent pickle liquor into a surrounding asphalt-paved area and into a storm drain (see photo). The new 2014 DSW rule will help us better respond to similar cases going forward.

Like I mentioned before, there are environmental and economic benefits to recycling hazardous materials. The new DSW rule reduces risks for communities, at the same time that it helps to encourage certain types of recycling. Some higher-value hazardous spent solvents, for example, can be remanufactured and reused safely under the rule, which means that less new solvents are created. And some hazardous byproducts can be reused in the same process that generated them, through in-process recycling.

Through this new rule, we’re helping ensure that our country is recycling more, but doing it safely to protect our communities and the environment.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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New Life for Superfund Sites: From Contamination to Clean Energy

Renewable energy is growing – and as it grows, more and more wind turbines, solar farms and other projects are being built on formerly contaminated Superfund sites.

Our RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative encourages renewable energy development on current, former and potentially contaminated land, landfills and mine sites. The initiative develops screening and mapping tools, drafts technical resources and best practices, and highlights case studies and success stories.

Siting renewable energy facilities on formerly contaminated land can not only be done safely, it can also benefit communities, as these projects create new, low cost sources of clean power, and can bring new resources to the table to get cleanups done faster. The projects support property values, more jobs, more tax revenue to support public services and a better local economy. They also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Learning Firsthand the Interconnectedness of Native Culture to the Land from the Hualapai Tribe in the Grand Canyon

Recently, my wife and I were fortunate to take a vacation to the great American Southwest. A day spent at Grand Canyon West in Arizona was the highlight of the trip. We both agreed that the beauty of the canyon is unparalleled, but I didn’t realize how long Native Americans from the Hualapai Tribe (pronounced WALL-uh-pie) have called this unique area of the Southwest home, with its deep gorges, canyon lands, rugged mesas, and ponderosa pine forests.

Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus and his wife at Grand Canyon West in Arizona.

I was hosted by the Hualapai Tribe, known as the “People of the Tall Pines,” whose homelands once covered an area from the Grand Canyon in northwest Arizona to the Bill Williams River in west-central Arizona and from the Black Mountains bordering the Colorado River to the San Francisco Peaks. Today, the Hualapai Reservation is nearly 1 million acres. Until 1988, the Hualapai’s tribal lands were not open to visitors; however, in order to secure economic stability and independence, the Hualapai have shared their lands of spectacular beauty with millions of people from around the world.

Challenging aspects of increased tourism are waste generation and increased water usage. Many of the tourists visiting the area leave trash and other waste behind, creating a problem for the tribe. With the assistance of the Department of Defense’s C130 cargo aircraft, the tribe removed waste from the canyon floor. The Tribe’s Natural Resources Department is a leader among tribal communities for their work in water conservation and ensuring water quality.

During my vacation I experienced one unforgettable day with the Hualapai when native dancers performed ancient dances in the shadow of the canyon as I imagine they have for centuries. The visit solidified my commitment to the importance of our longstanding partnership with tribal environmental programs to protect ecosystems where natural landscape and native culture are interwoven and equally irreplaceable as the Grand Canyon is to the Hualapai tribe.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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