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RIDEM Quarterly Business Roundtable Meeting Minutes
June 18, 2001
I. Old Business
1. Review of March Meeting Notes
The notes from the March meeting were reviewed. There were no comments received at the meeting or afterwards, therefore the meeting notes will be accepted as written.
2. Pollution Prevention Week
There was a brief discussion on Pollution Prevention week, which will be celebrated in the third week in September. Ron Gagnon mentioned that DEM would be looking for candidates to honor in both Environmental Leadership and Pollution Prevention categories. Gary Ezvoski indicated the willingness of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce to help with the planning of this event. The Director briefly mentioned the results of the Tellus Corporation study of potential directions of a Project XL program in Rhode Island. This program will potentially target a sector of the business community that could help to alleviate an existing environmental problem. This will be a goal-oriented program that will be linked to specific environmental results.
3. Regulatory Agenda
Bob Ballou then briefed the group on the DEM Regulatory Agenda. The 2001 agenda was distributed to the group and Bob highlighted a few of the DEM regulatory initiatives. He mentioned the rewrite of the Wetlands regulations and changes to the ISDS regulations that resulted from the Permit Streamlining initiatives; Wastewater Treatment Facility Operation and Maintenance update and new dredge disposal regulation development.
4. Legislative Update
Bob Ballou and the Director commented on the progress of bills that DEM was tracking in the legislature and include the following:
II. New Business
1. DEM Workplan
The director solicited comments from the group on the draft DEM workplan and said DEM is sponsoring two public workshops to collect input on the plan. This document focuses on the strategic direction of DEM, and integrates both the state and federal environmental goals. This plan does not include any major infusions of new employees, but recognizes the need for DEM to increase its presence with respect to public outreach and education. DEM is in the process of developing a public outreach and education plan. The Director also anticipates that there will be an update (or a progress report?) of the work plan every six months. Gary Ezvoski mentioned that he was pleased to see that dredging was a high priority for DEM. This is an important issue that needs a long-term solution.
2. Waste Site Remediation Permit Streamlining Task Force Update
Terry Gray and Leo Hellested updated the group on the Waste Site Remediation Permit Streamlining Task Force. Their report included an update on the Marginal Risk Site and Arsenic Policies and Brownfields.
Marginal Risk Site Policy
Implementation of the Marginal Risk Site Policy will streamline the way DEM reviews projects that do not pose significant environmental or human health risks. This will be a more efficient process and resources that are currently used to review "marginal risk sites" can be diverted to reviewing projects that have a significant environmental impact.
DEM is establishing review time guidelines for "marginal risk sites". The proposed policy Primarily applies to sites that are located in a GB groundwater aquifer. It encourages the removal of waste material and sets information requirements for the Site Investigation Report and presumptive remedies that should be used at the site. Applications that adequately address these requirements will be reviewed by DEM within 45 days.
Review guidelines are predicated on DEM receiving complete submissions that are of sufficient quality to review. If these submissions do not address all the elements of the policy, DEM will reject the submission as a "marginal risk site" and will evaluate it in the normal process where there are no firm time review guidelines or presumptive remedies.
The Marginal Risk Site Policy addresses properties that are primarily located in areas that have a GB groundwater designation. (Properties located in a GA area can apply for the policy if the source of contamination is removed.) A question was asked when was the last time these designations were reviewed. Alicia Good indicated that these areas would be reviewed in the next year.
As a result of discussions and evaluation of the six-month pilot program, DEM will modify its existing Arsenic Policy. During the six-month review time period twelve sites were approved under the existing policy. The policy was working but it was difficult to rationalize the need to remediating releases that were lower than the background level of the site. The old policy also did not address standards from virgin sites that were retail or wholesale providers of soil. The policy will keep the existing policy for residential uses for properties. DEM will propose a regulatory change to raise the level to 7 PPM for sites that will be used for industrial / commercial applications.
3. General Duty Clause
Gina Friedman of the Office of Air Resources briefed the group on the provisions of the General Duty Clause of the Clean Air Act. This section of the Act requires owners and operators of stationary sources to identify hazards, and to prevent, and minimize the effects of accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances. This requirement is a federally enforced program, but DEM staff is available to work with industry groups or companies to help them to comply with this program.
This requirement applies to any facility where any quantities of any extremely hazardous substances are present. The general duty clause is a performance-based requirement and recognizes that owners and operators have primary responsibility in the prevention of chemical accidents. As part of this responsibility, many industries have developed standards and generally recognized safe practices to manage the risks associated with these substances. EPA believes that owners and operators who have these substances must adhere, at a minimum, to recognized industry standards and practices (as well as any government regulations) in order to be in compliance with the general duty clause. This regulation requires each facility to develop expertise in the materials they store and use in order to prevent accidental releases.
Difficulties with Compliance
Some of the difficulties with compliance include:
Finally, there may be situations in which an existing industry standard or practice is simply inadequate to prevent accidents, and here the EPA may exercise its authority to require a company to implement additional measures to address the hazard. This can present problems because many small businesses lack the expertise and staff to effectively comply with the requirements, although they continue to use these substances. Gina mentioned that the use of anhydrous ammonia in school hockey rinks and chlorine used in industrial processes could be serious problems in the event of a leak. The director agreed and indicated that DEM and industry needs to be proactive to prevent problems from occurring.
There was a brief discussion on the timing of future meetings and a new schedule will be developed. The existing schedule needs to be revised since a number of topics such as the budget, regulatory agenda, annual report and work plan, are completed after the usual Roundtable meeting. Tom Getz and Gary Ezvoski will work on a new schedule for the next year.