Saturday, February 24, 2018

Do Oil Sheens Need To Be Reported? What Is Sheen Rule?

Under the Clean Water Act, the "sheen rule" provides the framework for determining whether an oil spill should be reported to the federal government. Federal regulation requires the person in charge of a facility or vessel responsible for discharging oil that may be "harmful to the public health or welfare" to report the spill. The regulation establishes the criteria for determining whether an oil spill may be harmful to public health or welfare, thereby triggering the reporting requirements:
  • · Discharges that cause a sheen or discoloration on the surface of a body of water;
  • · Discharges that violate applicable water quality standards; and
  • · Discharges that cause a sludge or emulsion to be deposited beneath the surface of the water or on adjoining shorelines.
These reporting criteria are independent of local or State spill reporting requirements. Therefore, spills might be reportable even if State spill reporting thresholds are not exceeded.

  Hazardous Chemical Spill to Sewer Outside Manufacturing Plant
Hazardous Chemical Spill to Sewer Outside Manufacturing Plant

Because the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which amended the Clean Water Act, broadly defines the term "oil," the sheen rule applies to both petroleum and non-petroleum oils and fats (e.g., vegetable oil, milk). The regulation also provides several exemptions from the notification requirements.

Need more information of federal, State or local spill reporting requirements? Contact Caltha at

Caltha LLP | Your EH&S Compliance, 
Auditing and EMS/SMS Partner

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Iowa Proposes Rules To Create New General Wastewater Permits

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has proposed two general discharge permits to cover two types of common and generally low risk discharges. DNR plans to issue two new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permits known as General Permit #8 (GP8) and General Permit #9 (GP9). GP8 allows for discharges of hydrostatic test water (water used to test the integrity of a pipe or tank), underground storage tank ballast water (water used to weight a tank to facilitate underground installation), and water associated with installation, repair, and replacement of potable water lines. GP9 allows for discharges from dewatering associated with construction and small residential geothermal heating and cooling systems. IDNR is proposing to include eligibility criteria and Best Management Practices. These will ensure that discharges will comply with water quality standards. Most permittees will be automatically authorized to discharge. Only a few higher-risk dischargers will need to submit a Notice of Intent. There is no fee for either permit. DNR is seeking public comment on proposed rules that will create two new general permits. DNR will hold three public hearings across the state in March:
  • Wednesday, Mar. 7, 4 p.m. at the Coralville, IA Public Library
  • Thursday, Mar. 8, 4 p.m. at the Harlan, IA Public Library
  • Wednesday, Mar. 14, 4 p.m. at the Urbandale, IA Public Library
Caltha LLP | Your Air Permit, Wastewater Permit, 
Storm Water Permit Partner

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Groundwater Health Limits For Trimethylbenzene

The Health Risk Assessment Unit at the Minnesota Department of Health has started a full review of three trimethylbenzene (TMB) isomers (1,2,3-trimethylbenzene; 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene; and 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene). TMB isomers are produced during petroleum refining and production of a component of gasoline. TMB isomers are also used in the production of solvents and are ingredients in paints, dyes, cleaning agents, and automotive fluids.

 The review will consider if the existing Health Risk Values (HRL) for the three trimethylbenzene compounds in groundwater are adequately protective. This review is particularly significant because trimethylbenzene compounds are commonly detected in soil and groundwater at petroleum release sites, such as leaking underground storage tank (LUST) sites.

 MDH previously developed water guidance for 1,2,4- and 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene. Re-evaluation of these contaminants in 2017 resulted in a recommendation for full review.

Caltha LLP | Your Environmental Site Assessment
and Remediation Partner