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Environmental News, Regulatory News

PFAS Regulatory Update

May 27, 2020

On May 19, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the next step to implement an important per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA added 172 PFAS to the list of chemicals required to be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and established a 100-pound reporting threshold for these substances. The agency is publishing a final rule that officially incorporates these requirements into the Code of Federal Regulations for TRI. The inclusion of 172 PFAS on the TRI list will provide EPA with important information on these emerging chemicals of concern. As this action is being taken to conform the regulations to a Congressional legislative mandate, this rule is effective immediately. Per the NDAA requirements, the PFAS additions became effective as of January 1, 2020. Reporting forms for these PFAS will be due to EPA by July 1, 2021, for calendar year 2020 data. EPA expects to release raw data from information collected by July…
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Environmental News, Recycling News

Low-Impact Products and Environmental Impact Based on Characteristics and Attributes

April 16, 2020

We discussed low impact materials in a previous post. This post continues in that vein through the consideration of material attributes. Those of us who strive to make environmentally conscious purchasing decisions make many assumptions about the environmental impact of a product based on the characteristics or attributes of that product. These attributes include things like the origin of the material (does it contain recycled content or is it biobased) and what are its disposal options (is it recyclable or compostable). But, as we will consider in this discussion, these attributes represent the beginning and end of the story, not the full story of the environmental impacts of a product. When we are trying to make environmentally conscious purchasing decisions, we rely on product attributes such as recycled content, biobased, recyclable, and compostable. Unfortunately, relying on these attributes alone does not account for the entire environmental impact of a product and can lead to unintended negative impacts.  The majority of environmental impacts resulting from a…
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Environmental News, Recycling News

New Paradigm of Low-Impact Materials Shifts Recycling Responsibility from Consumers to Manufacturers

April 8, 2020

Recent research conducted by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the USEPA has shown that although a product may be recyclable, that does not always translate into the packaging having the least environmental impact. Instead, the entire life cycle of products and product packaging should be evaluated to determine their overall environmental impact.    Some in the recycling industry are calling for a shift from the current paradigm where the responsibility for recycling lies entirely on the consumer to the point upstream where manufacturers are choosing materials and designing their products to be more climate/environmentally friendly. A good example of this comes from an EPA study which evaluated the overall impacts of several types of coffee containers. The study compared the energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, and overall waste generated by a steel can, a plastic tub, and a non-recyclable flexible pouch. The study concluded that the pouch required the lowest amount of resources in each of the three categories. The item that went in…
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Environmental News

Compostable Bowls Contain PFAS, Restaurant Chains and Manufacturers Begin to Make Changes

March 31, 2020

Many of us are taking advantage of drive-through and pick-up options at local eating establishments as we are adhering to stay-at-home orders. Some of that food will come in compostable bowls, which have replaced the use of Styrofoam. Many of us may have even composted those fiber containers in our backyard composter, or if we work in the solid waste industry, in our composting operations. But what has not been widely known until now, is that these bowls, which have been touted as “biodegradable”, “socially responsible”, and “environmentally friendly” contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS), a group of more than 4,000 fluorinated compounds that do not biodegrade naturally in the environment and have been shown to be toxic and carcinogenic. PFAS are added to the fiber bowls to make them resistant to moisture, oil, and grease so they don’t fall apart when full of food. These bowls, which have become ubiquitous in the restaurant industry, are not really 100 percent compostable. Instead of degrading quickly,…
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Company News, Press Releases

COVID-19 Practices

March 24, 2020

The Blackstone team is committed to following local, state and national COVID-19 guidelines. A majority of our staff is working from home, but we are ensuring essential environmental compliance commitments are completed through cautious field work and sampling. Here is what we are doing to keep staff and clients safe and our business moving forward: Non-field employees are working remotely, with the exception of one staff member in the office each day to handle essential administrative and business needs.Our team is not conducting face-to-face meetings.Project managers are staying in frequent contact with clients on current and upcoming projects.Essential field projects will continue as conditions for those tasks remain safe. Field staff will practice mandated person-to-person distancing and hygiene practices.Our Health and Safety Lead is providing frequent resources and information to support our team’s physical and emotional well-being. We’re all in this together, and Blackstone appreciates your patience and flexibility as we navigate this uncharted social and business landscape. Please contact your project manager if you…
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Environmental News, Solid Waste News

Landfill Fires Increase, Know the Risks

March 4, 2020

More than 8,000 landfill fires occur each year, ranging from minor surface fires to massive blazes. Due to the potential release of toxic smoke and gases, these fires represent a significant health and environmental concern. Additionally landfill fires result in a cost of approximately $8 million annually in property losses and 30 firefighters injured each year while battling the fires. Fires are caused by a number of factors including arson, deposits of hot wastes, lithium ion batteries, and natural causes such as lightening. In December 2019 alone, 24 fire incidents were reported at waste and recycling facilities in the U.S. and Canada. Based on information provided by Waste 360, the waste and recycling industry experienced a total of 343 “reported facility” fires in the U.S. and Canada. A “reported facility fire” is defined as a fire that has been reported by the media and occurs at a waste or recycling facility in the U.S. and Canada. Fires that are reported by the media are larger…
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Environmental News, Regulatory News

EPA Issues Preliminary Determination to Set Enforceable Drinking Water Standard for PFAS and PFOS

February 28, 2020

On February 20, 2020, the EPA announced it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard for two of the most common per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). This decision was based on the criteria that PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health, are present in our drinking water at a frequency and concentration that represent a public health concern, and regulation will reduce the health risk to those served by public water supply systems. The preliminary regulatory determination is the first step in setting a drinking water standard, called as a maximum contaminant level (MCL) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). If an MCL is established, utilities will be required to monitor for these PFOA and PFOS and potentially treat their water to keep concentrations below the standard. It is important to note that this proposed regulation only covers PFOS and PFOA, and not the nearly…
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Company News

Megan Ostrand Joins Blackstone as Environmental Scientist

February 25, 2020

Blackstone Environmental is excited to welcome Megan Ostrand, Environmental Scientist, to our Overland Park, Kansas office. She holds a Master of Science in Soil Science and a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management both from the North Dakota State University (NDSU). As part of the Blackstone team, Megan will focus on soil classification and investigation activities, groundwater monitoring and statistical analysis, wetland assessment, and NEPA compliance. Prior to Blackstone, Megan was a Graduate Research Assistant at NDSU. Her work included scientific data collection, use of geographical information systems (GIS), soil sampling, Superabsorbent Polymer (SAP) treatments and evaluation, development of organizational structure for coal research, and technical and research writing. Megan was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota. She played college hockey at NDSU during her undergrad years. In her spare time, she enjoys function fitness, being outdoors and sipping craft beer. Welcome!
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Environmental News, Regulatory News

Finalization of a New Rule Addressing the Clean Water Act Definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS)

February 18, 2020

On January 23, 2020 the United States Environmental Protection Agency and United States Corps of Engineers announced the finalization of a new rule addressing the Clean Water Act definition of Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”). The definition of WOTUS is considered to be one of the three critical jurisdictional terms in the Clean Water Act. It is also important because it is relevant to non-National Pollution Discharge Elimination System programs including: Section 404 of the Clean Water Act Wetland PermitsSection 311 Oil/Hazardous Substances Release RequirementsClean Water Act Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Regulations The scope of the definition of WOTUS has been the subject of frequent litigation, legislative oversight, rulemakings, and public policy debates since the enactment of the modern version of the Clean Water Act in 1972. This current version will also likely be met by lawsuits from environmental groups and some states while at the same time it is being championed by organizations representing farming and ranching interests, industry groups, and real…
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Regulatory News, Solid Waste News

U.S. House Passes Bill Targeting PFAS

January 17, 2020

On January 10, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill targeting per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bill, H.R. 535, passed with a 247-159 vote. Despite the threat of a veto by President Donald Trump, 24 Republicans voted for the bill.  Significant items in the bill include: National regulation of some PFAS substances, specifically requiring the U.S. EPA to establish destruction and disposal guidance for a range of materials, including landfill leachate, biosolids, and "solid, liquid, or gas waste streams" from facilities that manufacture or use PFAS; Amend section 5 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require a 'poses an unreasonable risk' finding and use prohibition in response to any new chemical notification for a PFAS, for a period of five years;Create a rule under section 8 of TSCA requiring manufacturers of PFAS to submit relevant data;Issue guidance for minimizing the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam; andRevise its Safer Choice standard to require that pots, pans and cooking utensils labelled with…
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