Health, Safety and Environment

Violations of Clean Water Act Lead to Settlement

The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced the reaching of a settlement (4 May 2012) between the US and the municipality of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Arecibo was found in violation of the Clean Water Act and its Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System General Permit when it discharged storm water, untreated sewage and sewage sludge and other pollutants into the Rio Grande de Arecibo. Under the settlement, Arecibo will pay a penalty of US$305,643, improve its storm water management program, and invest approximately US$56 million in its infrastructure to improve the Arecibo sewer system, including by building a new pump station and three retention basins and repairing, replacing or constructing storm sewer pipes as necessary.

DoJ’s media release (4 June 2012)
(Source: DoJ)

US Plastic Company and Subsidiary Settle Pollution Case

The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that “SABIC Innovative Plastics US LLC [SABIC], and its subsidiary, SABIC Innovative Plastics Mt. Vernon LLC, have agreed to pay a civil penalty of approximately [US]$1 million and improve leak detection and repair practices to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at chemical manufacturing facilities in Mt. Vernon, [Indiana], and Burkville, [Alaska]“. SABIC will also put in place equipment and better monitoring measures to reduce “fugitive” emissions from hazardous air pollutants as these can be controlled by monitoring and repairing leaks. The consent decree also requires SABIC to “control … emissions from an oil/water separator”, the cost of which will be almost US$4 million.

DoJ’s media release (31 May 2012)
(Source: DoJ; US Environment Protection Agency)

US Companies Agree to Pay US$1 Million for Pipeline Spills

The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Mid-America Pipeline Company LLC (MAPCO) and Enterprise Products Operating LLC (Enterprise) “have agreed to pay a civil penalty of more than [US]$1 million to the United States to settle violations of the federal Clean Water Act related to three natural gasoline pipeline spills in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska” in March 2007, April 2010 and August 2011. The companies are required to take greater measures to control spills by inspecting the pipelines from the ground and air and by “reach[ing] out to local agencies, contractors and and excavators to make sure they are fully aware of pipeline locations and depths”. MAPCO and Enterprise must also spend US$200,000 to prevent external threats to their pipelines, including “to relocate, cover, lower or replace pipeline segments; install new remote shutoff valves; install new physical protections such as fences or concrete barriers” and install preventative systems to protect waters that could be affected by a spill.

DoJ’s media release (29 May 2012)
(Source: DoJ)

Climate Partnership Wins Award

The Climate Group has announced that the HSBC Climate Partnership, a five-year program it jointly launched with HSBC, the Earthwatch Institute, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the WWF, has won the Charity Partnership: Financial and Professional category at the 2012 Business Charity Awards. The Climate Group chief executive officer Mark Kenber stated that “HSBC’s research has been particularly invaluable in highlighting the potential size of the global market for low carbon goods and helping us demonstrate the undoubted benefits to those who seize the opportunity to lead the transition to a prosperous low carbon world”.

Further information from the Business Charity Awards
The Climate Group’s media release (17 May 2012)
(Source: The Climate Group; Business Charity Awards)

FedEx Announces Significant Progress Toward Fuel Efficiency

Market Watch reports that FedEx Express, a unit of FedEx Corporation, has announced that it has made significant progress towards achieving its 2020 target to make its vehicles more fuel efficient, revealing that its “vehicle fleet is now 16.6% more fuel efficient through FY2011 than it was in 2005″. FedEx Corporation staff vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability Mitch Jackson reportedly said that “[a]lthough we are less than halfway to the end date we set for ourselves, we have achieved 80% of our vehicle fuel efficiency goal as of the conclusion of fiscal year 2011, compared to our original baseline set in 2005″ and added that FedEx Corporation was considering raising the 2020 target. FedEx Express has reportedly been able to make such progress due to the purchase of several all-electric trucks, vehicles with the right-sized engines, composite-body trucks with an appropriately-sized engine, “[t]esting of FedEx Ground hybrid hydraulic parcel delivery vehicles that can reduce fuel usage by 40%” and “[t]esting of six standard delivery vehicles retrofitted with all-electric drivetrains”.

Market Watch: FedEx Closes in on Vehicle Fleet Fuel Efficiency Goal Years Ahead of Schedule (16 May 2012)
(Source: Market Watch)