Dec 1, 2016

DHS Cyber Alert:Avalanche (crimeware-as-a-service infrastructure)

Systems Affected :Microsoft Windows

Overview

"Avalanche" refers to a large global network hosting infrastructure used by cyber criminals to conduct phishing and malware distribution campaigns and money mule schemes. The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is releasing this Technical Alert to provide further information about Avalanche.

Description

Cyber criminals utilized Avalanche botnet infrastructure to host and distribute a variety of malware variants to victims, including the targeting of over 40 major financial institutions. Victims may have had their sensitive personal information stolen (e.g., user account credentials). Victims' compromised systems may also have been used to conduct other malicious activity, such as launching denial-of-service (DoS) attacks or distributing malware variants to other victims' computers.

In addition, Avalanche infrastructure was used to run money mule schemes where criminals recruited people to commit fraud involving transporting and laundering stolen money or merchandise.

Avalanche used fast-flux DNS, a technique to hide the criminal servers, behind a constantly changing network of compromised systems acting as proxies.

The following malware families were hosted on the infrastructure:

  • Windows-encryption Trojan horse (WVT) (aka Matsnu, Injector,Rannoh,Ransomlock.P)
  • URLzone (aka Bebloh)
  • Citadel
  • VM-ZeuS (aka KINS)
  • Bugat (aka Feodo, Geodo, Cridex, Dridex, Emotet)
  • newGOZ (aka GameOverZeuS)
  • Tinba (aka TinyBanker)
  • Nymaim/GozNym
  • Vawtrak (aka Neverquest)
  • Marcher
  • Pandabanker
  • Ranbyus
  • Smart App
  • TeslaCrypt
  • Trusteer App
  • Xswkit

Avalanche was also used as a fast flux botnet which provides communication infrastructure for other botnets, including the following:        

  • TeslaCrypt
  • Nymaim
  • Corebot
  • GetTiny
  • Matsnu
  • Rovnix
  • Urlzone
  • QakBot (aka Qbot, PinkSlip Bot)

Impact

A system infected with Avalanche-associated malware may be subject to malicious activity including the theft of user credentials and other sensitive data, such as banking and credit card information. Some of the malware had the capability to encrypt user files and demand a ransom be paid by the victim to regain access to those files. In addition, the malware may have allowed criminals unauthorized remote access to the infected computer. Infected systems could have been used to conduct distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

Solution

Users are advised to take the following actions to remediate malware infections associated with Avalanche:

  • Use and maintain anti-virus software – Anti-virus software recognizes and protects your computer against most known viruses. Even though parts of Avalanche are designed to evade detection, security companies are continuously updating their software to counter these advanced threats. Therefore, it is important to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. If you suspect you may be a victim of an Avalanche malware, update your anti-virus software definitions and run a full-system scan. (See Understanding Anti-Virus Software for more information.)
  • Avoid clicking links in email – Attackers have become very skilled at making phishing emails look legitimate. Users should ensure the link is legitimate by typing the link into a new browser (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for more information).
  • Change your passwords – Your original passwords may have been compromised during the infection, so you should change them. (See Choosing and Protecting Passwords for more information.)
  • Keep your operating system and application software up-to-date – Install software patches so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. You should enable automatic updates of the operating system if this option is available. (See Understanding Patches for more information.)
  • Use anti-malware tools – Using a legitimate program that identifies and removes malware can help eliminate an infection. Users can consider employing a remediation tool. A non-exhaustive list of examples is provided below. The U.S. Government does not endorse or support any particular product or vendor.

          ESET Online Scanner

          https://www.eset.com/us/online-scanner/  

          F-Secure

          https://www.f-secure.com/en/web/home_global/online-scanner

          McAfee Stinger

          http://www.mcafee.com/us/downloads/free-tools/index.aspx

          Microsoft Safety Scanner

          https://www.microsoft.com/security/scanner/en-us/default.aspx

          Norton Power Eraser

          https://norton.com/npe

References

Nov 30, 2016

Lead poisoning is statewide, help is not

Rural communities across the state get less money for lead abatement and education than cities, leaving officials to wonder how much of a priority lead poisoning really is for Michigan.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a handful of grants each year to provide lead abatement services for residents, but because the competition is so fierce, they go to bigger metropolitan areas.

The state Department of Health and Human Services provides lead services to individual homes if high levels of lead are identified, but it does not provide consistent funding to whole communities.

The state health department recently submitted a request for $23.8 million in additional federal funding for the state, but that money will be used first for Flint and then those areas where lead problems are most concentrated, such as Detroit.

"We have to focus our dollars where it's needed most," said Jennifer Eisner, a public information officer for the state  department. "We want to make sure we're putting our resources where they have the most impact."

But officials say they are worried about how this process leaves rural areas to essentially fend for themselves with lead problems that can cause a myriad of serious health effects.

"This is about being more strategic about providing resources," said Tina Reynolds, the health policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council. "There are kids that are lead poisoned statewide, yet there are communities that get more resources than others."

And while it does make sense for more populated areas to receive more funding, a child in Charlevoix should have the same level of care as a child in Flint, Reynolds said, because lead is everywhere.

The lead in most of the state comes from houses built before 1978 that have lead paint. This is much different than the lead in drinking water that brought international attention to Flint.

Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit have secured federal grants but they last only for three years. Cities can't apply for grants until their previous grant period has ended, leaving a potential period when the community loses all funding, Reynolds said.

In Grand Rapids, the $2.9 million federal funding is used to help families enroll in programs to have their homes remediated and cleared of lead, said Paul Haan, executive director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan. Families with lead poisoning are put at the top of the list, and then the money is used to help anyone with high lead levels.

The problem is that applying for grants is difficult and competitive statewide, and this adds to the difficulty rural areas have to secure any sort of federal funding, Haan said.

"HUD's model doesn't really work," he said. "If you live in Sparta or Owosso or a locality where lead isn't concentrated, you probably aren't going to get money from the feds."

In Calhoun County, officials have begun their own lead prevention and education programs without help from the federal government or the state's health department. Instead, they are using general fund dollars to provide care for people with high levels of lead.

"We wanted to increase testing for kids and raise awareness about lead," said Helen Guzzo, a community development specialist in Battle Creek. "We would like a source of state or federal funding to do more remediation that we manage."

Calhoun County's efforts are a way to show the state health department and the federal government they are serious about lead, Reynolds said. But in places where local agencies cannot invest in lead remediation, that lack of priority signals to the state that it doesn't  need to step in.

Reynolds said this is one of the main problems with how funding is distributed. For a community to have a better chance of securing more funding, it must spend money on lead on a local level first, but this poses problems for areas that can't afford it.

"Because lead isn't an essential local health service, it requires communities to dedicate resources from their own general fund," she said. "Some communities can do that and some can't."

Haan, of the Healthy Homes Coalition, said the lack of resources disproportionately hurts rural areas, and until the state makes it a priority, this will continue.

The lack of standards regarding lead in homes adds to the difficulty, he said.

"There should be a set of community standards and expectations that we're providing safe houses," he said. "Our current standard promotes ignorance." Read on at: http://greatlakesecho.org/2016/11/23/lead-poisoning-is-statewide-but-help-is-not/

Enzyme makes producing biofuels easier

Poplars and other trees can be bred to break down more easily to make biofuel and other products such as paper, according to scientists at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

Their new study found that zip-lignin, an enzyme that indicates the high degradability of plants, is already in most plants.

The center is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University and other partners. It was established by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The discovery reveals that "nature was already doing what we thought we'd laboriously taught her to do," said John Ralph, a biochemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin

In 2014, the researchers produced a highly degradable poplar by injecting an exotic gene in the lignin, the part in the cell walls that's hard to break down.

The principal motivation for the research is to reduce dependence on fossil fuels that

A microphotograph of zip lignin. Image:Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

A microphotograph of zip lignin. ImageGreat Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

increase the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, Ralph said. Another goal is to improve the processes that create more efficient and sustainable fuels and other products.

Steven Karlen, a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin and the study's lead author, said the finding is a big step toward achieving those goals.

"Instead of finding exotic genes and transform them into the plants, we can actually breed these trees," Karlen said. "You can find and breed ones that are producing the highest levels of zip-lignin, getting these trees growing higher without GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or anything else. Using trees with high density of this enzyme means they will break down with less toxic chemicals."

Ralph said this research has demonstrated a potential increase in the yield of bio-products by taking advantage of the enzyme. "It takes less time and lower temperature to get the same yield, so even if you do it under the same condition as before, the yield is higher."

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center has other groups looking at the sustainability of land use and studying how to grow plant-based biomass on marginal and riverfront land.

The center hasn't been looking at the specific effect that zip technology has brought on the field, but according to Karlen, researchers have found that almost all the crops and grasses the groups are studying, have zip-lignin in them.

Karlen said, "By developing this technology, we can increase the value of crops growing in the Midwest.

"A big one on our list is corn–there is lots of corn stover" — meaning the plant's leaves and stalks — "around the Great Lakes area. You can take the stover you need to remove to convert that to liquid fuel, and it doesn't hurt next year's crop," Karlen said.

Read on at: http://greatlakesecho.org/2016/11/29/enzyme-makes-producing-biofuels-easier/

Toxin kills thousands of birds along Lake Michigan shore

Since 2006, dead birds have been washing up on Lake Michigan beaches.

But this fall has been exceptionally grim, with up to five thousand birds being found dead along the shore.

Researchers are trying to understand what's happening.

IPR's Sam Corden reports....They're walking along a beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The typically pristine coast is littered with about two dozen dead birds including scoters, loons, ducks, and more.

Researchers say the birds are dying because of a toxin called avian botulism, which can form on the lake bed under certain conditions.

Standing over a dead duck, Ray describes what he sees, and the procedure that follows.

"So we have a long-tailed duck, and we're going to pick that up away from the shoreline, take it up into the foredune," Ray says. "And then we dig a hole two feet deep, and bury it so that it's away from park visitors and pets and no longer a threat to public health."

Botulism forms when there's a lack of oxygen in the water.

Ray digs a hole to bury a dead bird. Image: Samuel Corden

Ray digs a hole to bury a dead bird. Image: Samuel Corden

For that to happen, it takes a long chain reaction that begins with invasive Zebra and Quagga mussels filtering the water, which increases its clarity.

Williams of Inland Seas explains.

"The mussels are eating all this stuff, and then they produce waste like all living things do, and that waste has all kinds of nutrients in it … lots of nitrogen, lots of phosphorous," Williams says. "And because there's a lot of nutrients at the bottom of the lake, and a lot of sunlight, that means the algae can grow as much as it possibly can."

The native algae thrives on those nutrients and the additional sunlight, growing prolifically over the summer months.

However, living algae poses no issue, and it's not until it dies that it becomes a problem.

Harvey Bootsma is a professor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. He says the northern part of Lake Michigan is the perfect place for botulism to thrive.

"One thing that's unique about the north end of the lake, especially in the Sleeping Bear region, is that the bottom of the lake, the lake topography, or what we call bathymetry is quite variable up there," Bootsma says, "so you have a lot of these pockets in the bottom of the lake … little valleys that are formed all over the place."


Read on at: http://greatlakesecho.org/2016/11/23/toxin-kills-thousands-of-birds-along-lake-michigan-shoreline/

Widespread Shallow Groundwater Contamination Found in Southwestern Illinois Cave Streams and Springs

Researchers have detected prescription and over-the-counter medications and personal care products in Illinois groundwater, an indication that humans are contaminating water that is vital to aquatic life. This study was funded by the Prairie Research Institute and the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and is published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.. ISTC researcher Wei Zheng is a co-author on the paper. Source: Illinois Natural History Survey News, 11/17/16

EPA Names First Chemicals for Review Under New TSCA Legislation

EPA is announcing the first ten chemicals it will evaluate for potential risks to human health and the environment under TSCA reform. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, requires EPA to publish this list by December 19, 2016. These chemicals were drawn from EPA's 2014 TSCA Work Plan, a list of 90 chemicals selected based on their potential for high hazard and exposure as well as other considerations. Source: U.S. EPA, 11/29/16

Nov 29, 2016

New Sustainable Technology Case Studies



More P2TECH Case studies:

EPA Defends Plan For Nuclear Contamination

​(WATERONLINE.COM)U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy addressed members of the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on November 21 in regards to the agency's attempt at protecting American citizens from nuclear contamination.

In June the agency proposed new guidelines for restricting drinking water after a nuclear incident, partially a response to the disaster at theFukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

In September, the EPA proposed a rule that could allow the public to temporarily drink water containing radioactive contamination in the case of a nuclear emergency and it isn't sitting well with some.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the EPA "thinks it would be acceptable for the public to temporarily drink water containing radioactive contamination at up to thousands of times normal federal safety limits."

Since 2009, the EPA has been working on drinking water guidelines as part of a broader set of recommendations in case radioactive material is ever discharged into the environment.

ThinkProgess reported that "during a radiological emergency, radioactive material could be released into the rivers, lakes, and streams used by public water suppliers." What the EPA is proposing is a "non-regulatory" guidance that authorities can use "to protect residents from experiencing the harmful effects from radiation in drinking water following an emergency."

The agency's Draft Protective Action Guide (PAG) advises officials on how to react to "a nuclear meltdown or a dirty bomb, a weapon that combines conventional explosives such as dynamite with radioactive material."

McCarthy's appearance at the National Press Club was, according to NBC Bay Area, the first publicly-made comments about questions surrounding the new proposal of allowing higher levels of radiation in drinking water.

McCarthy told members "that there are greater concerns over radiation today," adding, "We have more at issue right now in terms of radiation, we have the little bombs that can happen."

The 2009 PAG lists 107 radioactive materials, while the most current lists only three. For each material, the guide lists a maximum level. Upon reaching that level, government agencies or rescue crews are responsible for providing bottled water or evacuating residents.

NBC reported that the overall worry is stemming from radioactive materials that are "decaying." This means that the materials are "emitting particles, gamma rays or electrons." The resulting radiation can change the chemical balance of cells or change DNA, that can lead to a host of health concerns that include "birth defects, cancer, and in large enough doses — death."

Before the EPA released its new document, agencies relied on the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 for what was considered to be acceptable radiation levels in drinking water after emergencies.

Opponents of the proposal, including the New York attorney general and environmental groups, stated in September that the initiative represented a "drastic departure from normal protection limits and could endanger people's health," per The Wall Street Journal.

"The upshot really is that the [nuclear] industry really wants to be able to release more radioactivity and not be responsible for it," Diane D'Arrigo, a project director at the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, told ThinkProgress. "This is really a big loss."

McCarthy insured those in attendance that the radioactivity should not affect the water being drunk every day.

"I don't want anyone to think that we are changing our standards for drinking water, that is not the case," McCarthy said. "What we are trying to do is figure out how to actually start transitioning from a case where everybody is in their house and hunkered down, and can't drink drinking water to being able to understand what exposures — in a temporary way — would allow life to continue."

For similar stories visit Water Online's Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Ohio EPA to Define Paint and Related Waste as ‘Universal Waste’

On Nov. 21, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the official notice of its proposed Universal Waste Regulations to define paint and paint-related waste (PPRW) as universal waste. Over the past year, ACA's Ohio Paint Council has been working with the Ohio Manufacturers' Association and Ohio EPA to develop universal waste regulations for PPRW.

In advocating for this proposed rule, ACA underscored to Ohio EPA 1) the environmental benefits that would result from classifying PPRW as universal waste; 2) how classifying PPRW as universal waste would create better facility management; and 3) provided specific examples of why classifying PPRW as universal waste will alleviate regulatory burdens, costs, and encourage more recycling and reuse.

ACA hopes this new regulation will serve as a model that can now be used to promulgate analogous regulations in other interested states. Currently, only Texas and New Jersey have universal waste rules for paint and paint-related waste.

ACA has long maintained that paint and paint-related waste satisfy the criteria for designating a new universal waste. Paint is used by a wide range of different manufacturing industries and establishments, and is not exclusive to a specific industry. Paint and paint-related waste does not pose a significant risk when accumulated and transported by manufacturers, establishments, and other users. ACA also stressed that designation as a universal waste will promote the proper recycling or disposal of the hazardous waste and divert it from non-hazardous waste management systems.

ACA has also noted that including both paint and paint-related waste is very important as certain materials are not incorporated into the actual product itself, but are nonetheless critical for paint application and should be listed a long with paint.

ACA will be submitting comments to Ohio EPA by the Dec. 21 comment deadline.

More information on Ohio's proposed Universal Waste Regulations is available here.

EPA Releases Final Rule on Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements

​(PAINT.ORG)​ On Oct. 28, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the pre-publication copy of its Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements final regulation, which amends the regulations governing hazardous waste generators under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Many ACA companies are regulated under RCRA. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register in the coming weeks.

Background
After consolidating the feedback from the regulated community, states and other stakeholders, EPA developed a proposal it says will improve the entire hazardous waste generator program to strengthen environmental protection while ensuring businesses have the flexibility and certainty they need to successfully operate. ACA had submitted comments in response to the proposed rule almost a year ago, on Dec. 24, 2015 (see article). ACA, along with many other industries, cautioned that many of EPA's proposed changes, while intended to improve clarity and flexibility, will actually add unnecessary burdens, including recordkeeping, labeling and notification, as well as confusion for hazardous waste generators, with little benefit to human health or the environment.

Final Rule
According to EPA, the rule finalizes a much-needed update to the hazardous waste generator regulations to make the rules "easier to understand, facilitate better compliance, provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed, and close important gaps in the regulations."

In addition to finalizing key flexibilities, the rule enhances the safety of facilities, employees, and the general public by improving hazardous waste risk communication and ensuring that emergency management requirements meet today's needs. Further, EPA is finalizing a number of clarifications without increasing burden including a reorganization of the hazardous waste generator regulations so that all of the generator regulations are in one place.

According to EPA, the final rule includes approximately 60 changes to the hazardous waste generator regulations. Some examples of the changes in the final rule include the following:

  • Allowing very small quantity generators (VSQGs) to send hazardous waste to a large quantity generator (LQG) that is under the control of the same person and consolidate it there before sending it on to management at a RCRA-designated facility, provided certain conditions are met.
  • Allowing a VSQG or a small quantity generator (SQG) to maintain its existing generator category in the case of an episodic event that would otherwise bump the generator into a more stringent generator regulatory category.
  • Requiring periodic re-notification for SQGs every four years (SQGs only notify once under the current federal system). States with more frequent re-notifications can retain their existing requirements.
  • Improving risk communication by revising the regulations for labeling and marking of containers and tanks to indicate the hazards of the hazardous waste contained inside.
  • Replacing the phrase "conditionally exempt small quantity generator" with the phrase "very small quantity generator" to be consistent with the other two generator categories—large quantity generators and small quantity generators.
  • Reorganizing the hazardous waste generator regulations by moving VSQG regulations from § 261.5 into 40 CFR part 262, where the regulations for SQGs and LQGs are located, and by moving many of the generator regulations that are currently located in other parts of the hazardous waste standards into part 262 to replace the current lists of cross references.
  • Revising the regulations for completing the RCRA biennial report to be consistent with the current instructions distributed with the form.
  • Revising generator regulations to do with closure, waste determinations, submitting contingency plans, and other emergency preparedness and prevention areas.
  • In addition to the above, making technical corrections to inadvertent errors in the regulations, obsolete programs, and unclear citations.

EPA is not finalizing certain provisions it proposed, responding to adverse public comments. These include documentation of non-hazardous waste determinations; maintaining hazardous waste determinations until the facility closes; notification to the state or EPA of closure of a waste accumulation unit at a facility; requiring labeling hazardous waste units with the contents of the container; certain revisions to the drip pad requirements; and documentation of weekly inspections. ACA opposed many of these amendments in the proposed rule.

Implementation
The rule will be effective six (6) months after the date it is published in the Federal Register. For non-authorized RCRA states (Alaska, Iowa, the Indian Nations, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, N. Mariana and US Virgin Islands), the rule will go into effect on that 6-month effective date. RCRA authorized states will have to adopt rules and become authorized for the new provisions.  These states are only required to adopt the provisions in this final rule that are more stringent than the current RCRA regulations.

EPA will be hosting two webinars open to the public to discuss the final rule in the upcoming months. The webinars will be held:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 2:00 pm
  • Monday, Dec. 5 at 2:00 pm

Register for the webinars at https://clu-in.org/conf/tio/hwgenerators/.

Click here to access EPA's fact sheet about the final rule; here to access EPA's FAQs.

​ 

ACA Comments on EPA’s EcoLabels and Standards Pilot Project

​(PAINT.ORGOn Nov. 1, ACA submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the agency's pilot project to assess ecolabels and standards. EPA's proposed Draft Guidelines for Product Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Voluntary Use in Federal Procurement seeks to establish a framework to evaluate non-governmental environmental standards and ecolabels — and consequently, environmentally preferable products meeting these standards — for use in federal procurement. ACA serves on the pilot project's Paint and Coatings Panel.

The U.S. federal government is the largest purchaser in the world, and EPA has developed guidelines to help agencies in the federal government select environmental performance standards and ecolabels for their use. EPA is testing the guidance starting with three product category types: paint and coatings, flooring, and furniture. EPA has assembled a panel of stakeholders, including ACA and coating manufacturers, to evaluate the agency's guidance before it is finalized for use by other federal agencies.

EPA's goal is to create a transparent, fair, and consistent approach to selecting environmental performance standards and ecolabels to support the agency's mission and federal sustainable acquisition mandates.

EPA's pilot assessment criteria were made final in March 2016.  EPA piloted the criteria by seeking eco labels to volunteer to be assessed. ACA worked to ensure the guidelines provide manufacturers flexibility to accommodate the variety of approaches to and types of standards and ecolabels that exist in the marketplace today.

ACA understands the importance and necessity for the EPA to review existing ecolabels in the marketplace to make appropriate recommendations to guide federal purchasing.  However, ACA and its industry are concerned that major changes were made to the guidance document after the public comment period closed and without participation and feedback from the interested and impacted participants on the paint panel.  While the results of the pilot indicate that many Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) could not comply with certain criteria, it was understood that those criteria would signal the SDO community to improve their standards in the future. Instead, it appears that where the SDOs were unable to achieve critical criteria, such as open, transparent stakeholder involvement in standard development, the bar has been lowered to allow for closed door, arbitrary standard development.

In its comments, ACA made a series of recommendations to EPA, including urging the use of Voluntary Consensus Standards (VCS) for government purchasing, rather than amending the assessment criteria. ACA will continue to monitor the final stages of the pilot process and will remain engaged.

The impacts of EPA's pilot project could be significant since the results will inform the final guidance and determine what ecolabels and certification programs are deemed acceptable for use by federal government agencies for their purchasing. 

Source:

EPA Finalizes Hazardous Waste Import and Export Regulations

(PAINT.ORG) On Oct. 28, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication version of its final rule, Hazardous Waste Import and Export Regulations, which will be published in the Federal Register later this month. The rule is meant to streamline the hazardous waste export and import process, implement mandatory electronic reporting for international shipments and electronically link export information. The final version of the rule appears to be very similar to the proposed rule, which was released on Sept. 24, 2015. ACA did not submit any comments on the proposed rule.

The rule's regulatory changes will go into effect on Dec. 31, 2016.

The rule will affect transboundary shipments that are currently subject to 40 C.F.R. Part 262 Subpart H, which regulates recovery hazardous waste shipments sent between the United States and countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), other than Mexico and Canada. The rule also affects shipments currently subject to Subparts E and F, which regulate all other hazardous waste imports and exports. The modifications make certain substantive changes to the requirements of Subpart H, as well as expand the scope of that subpart to cover transboundary shipments currently subject to Subparts E and F.

According to EPA, the final rule establishes the following:

  • Consolidation of the regulations so that one set of protective requirements — the regulations currently in title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 262 Subpart H implementing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Council Decision controlling transboundary movements of recyclable hazardous waste — will apply to all imports and exports of hazardous waste;
  • Mandatory electronic reporting to EPA that will enable increased sharing of hazardous waste import and export data with state programs, the general public, and individual hazardous waste exporters and importers;
  • Linking the consent to export with the electronic export information submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection that will provide for more efficient compliance monitoring;
  • Clearer matching of waste stream level export and import consent numbers with waste streams listed on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste manifests for shipments; and
  • Mandatory EPA identification (ID) numbers for all small quantity and large quantity hazardous waste exporters and importers, including those recognized traders arranging for export or import of hazardous waste.

By far, the mandatory electronic reporting to EPA of hazardous waste imports and exports will be the most direct impact of this rule to ACA members. Please note, however, only export notices requesting initial consent or renewal of consent for hazardous wastes are required to be submitted to EPA electronically after Dec. 31, 2016. EPA still needs to build and beta-test the electronic reporting system that is required by this rule, after which a compliance date will be announced in a separateFederal Register announcement.

For more information and FAQs about the final rule, click here. For FAQs about the Hazardous Waste Import-Export Revisions, click here.

Full at: http://www.paint.org/epa-hazardous-waste-import-export/

S. 3470, Miners Protection Act of 2016

S. 3470 would authorize payments for health and pension benefits for certain retired or disabled coal miners and their eligible dependents. Such payments would be made to the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Health and Retirement Funds, a group of multiemployer plans that provide benefits to retirees from the coal industry. The bill also would extend the authority to collect and increase the rate of certain customs user fees. Read full at: https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/costestimate/s3470.pdf

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to Provide Clarifications to Article 6: Clear and Reasonable Warnings Under Prop 65

(PAINT.ORG) On Aug. 30, 2016, California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) adopted amendments to Article 6, Clear and Reasonable Warnings, of Prop 65. The regulation will be effective on Aug. 30, 2018. In the interim, OEHHA says businesses may comply with the old regulations until the effective date as companies will have two years to comply with the new regulations. Prop 65 requires anyone doing business in the state of California to provide a warning prior to exposure to a listed chemical(s).

A Prop 65 warning must be "clear and reasonable" under the law, and Article 6 provides safe harbor language that businesses can adopt to ensure compliance and protect them from enforcement. OEHHA has made significant changes to the Prop 65 regulations governing clear and reasonable warnings, including new safe harbor warning language and methods of transmitting warnings for product exposures, environmental exposures, exposures in the workplace, and specific safe harbor provisions from various sources such as amusement parks and parking garages. These amendments seek to accomplish Gov. Jerry Brown's goals of improving the meaningfulness of warnings for the public and providing clarity for businesses required to warn under Prop 65. ACA has been actively participating in the regulatory process, providing substantive comments regarding its concerns with the agency's numerous proposed revisions.

ACA is drafting guidance for members on the new Article 6 Requirements, and expects to release it in early 2017.

In the meantime, in order to provide greater clarity for its members, ACA sought clarification from OEHHA on several new requirements under the new regulations. Based on ACA's consultation with OEHHA, ACA suggests the following guidance for members.

SDS Warnings
A number of ACA members have submitted questions to ACA regarding protocols for providing Prop 65 warnings on a safety data sheet (SDS). The questions include the following:

  • Is an SDS a "safe harbor method of transmission" for a Prop 65 warning?
  • Is a Prop 65 warning required to be on the SDS?
  • If a company provides a Prop 65 warning on the product label, and wants to voluntarily put a Prop 65 warning on an SDS as well, how must this warning be provided?

ACA has confirmed that an SDS is not a "safe harbor method of transmission" for a Prop 65 warning. The safe harbor methods of transmission are listed in Article 6 under Section 25602 (i.e., internet, catalog, shelf tag, label, electronic device, etc.). In order to take advantage of the safe harbor, companies must warn in accordance with the safe harbor methods of transmission. Any warning provided on an SDS would be voluntary; it is not required.

Because an SDS is not a safe harbor warning method, companies that want to provide warnings on an SDS do not need to follow the safe harbor warning content regulations so long as there is a compliant Prop 65 warning using a safe harbor method of transmission. For example, if a company provides a Prop 65 warning on the product label, and wants to also voluntarily provide a warning on the SDS, the company may use the truncated warning on the SDS.

Pictograms
Regarding pictograms, ACA gained clarification on the following:

  • Companies are recommended to use the "reasonable man" test to determine which color of yellow would trigger the need for the Prop 65 pictogram to also be in color.
  •  OEHHA has released images of the Pictogram online for businesses to use.
  • Companies should view the product label as the "entire label" associated with the product. So, if the product has yellow on the front panel, it would trigger the color pictogram requirement even if the warning content is on the back panel or on a separate panel on the label.

Foreign Language Requirement
OEHHA indicated that it is currently developing safe harbor warning text for foreign languages. The agency will likely start with the nine languages included in the BPA Emergency Regulations and add to that list. These include Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean, Hmong, French, Chinese, Cambodian, and Spanish.

Old vs. New Warnings
As the final regulations indicate, companies that are party to a court-ordered settlement or final judgment establishing a warning method or content are still deemed compliant with Prop 65 so long as they are complying with the settlement or final judgment. As such, even if the warning content is the old warning (i.e., no pictogram, no foreign language requirement, etc.), it is still "clear and reasonable" if it is prescribed in the court-ordered settlement or final judgment, and the company was a party to that judgment or settlement.

Blister Packages
Blister packages are considered to be the "immediate packages," and as such, the use of the shorter truncated warning on the blister card is allowed under the regulations.

Text Formatting
There is no indicated preference on text formatting, other than type size.

Internet and Catalog Sales
"General advertising" or only displaying products either online or in a product catalog does not trigger the need for a Prop 65 warning. A warning would need to be provided online or in a catalog if the website has an e-commerce function, or if there was a method to purchase the product via a catalog.

To view the final Clear and Reasonable Warning regulations and more information, click here.

OEHHA has stated that it is planning to re-open the new regulations for Article 6, Clear and Reasonable Warnings, of the California Code of Regulations under Prop 65. The agency has said that it plans to revisit the rule to implement additional industry-specific warnings and to correct several minor drafting errors.

Nov 16, 2016

New guide will help small businesses comply with OSHA's silica rule for construction

OSHA has released a Small Entity Compliance Guide for Construction that is intended to help small business employers comply with the agency's Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica. The guide describes in easy-to-understand language the steps that employers are required to take to protect employees in construction from the hazards associated with silica exposure. All covered must: provide respiratory protection when required; restrict silica exposure from housekeeping practices where feasible; implement a written exposure control plan; offer medical exams to workers who will need to wear a respirator for 30 or more days a year; communicate hazards and train employees; and keep records of medical examinations. Enforcement of the final rule in construction is due to begin June 23, 2017.

Nov 2, 2016

EPA free Webinar Best Practices: State and Community Approaches to Hazardous Materials Source Reduction

Best Practices: State and Community Approaches to Hazardous Materials Source Reduction

November 3, 2016, Time: 1-2 pm CST
Webinar

Description:
EPA would like to invite you to our first quarterly webinar for the National Emphasis Area (NEA) Working Groups. The EPA National Pollution Prevention Program has established three national emphasis areas (NEAs) to give the program a more centralized focus and direction that will result in more impactful, measurable results. Through these webinars, we are hoping to share best practices among the states and regions in order to amplify all the great work we are doing in this country to support the goals of the NEAs. These grants are part of the State and Community Approaches to Hazardous Materials Source Reduction NEA, but we are inviting all grantees to the call in case you would like more information on the other NEA workgroups.

Contact Information:

Researchers find problems in tracking North American e-scrap exports

(resource-recycling) A recent study estimated the volume of used computers and display devices traded among and exported from North American countries to the rest of the world. But the researchers encountered a lack of solid data, and they suggested ways to improve e-scrap export numbers.

exports / Aun_Photographer, Shutterstock_455623612

Many might expect the often-discussed hotspots for North American e-scrap exports, including places in East Asia, Latin America and Africa, to be listed as top destinations in this exports study. Instead, researchers found many of the countries listed as top destinations are likely waypoints for electronics headed elsewhere.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took the lead in conducting the study on behalf of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a joint U.S.-Canada-Mexico body set up as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Researchers explored the quantities of used desktops, laptops, CRT monitors and flat-panel monitors traveling between the three countries and being exported by them to the rest of the world. It was based on 2010 data.

Researchers found that data limitations made it impossible to pin down exact numbers on e-scrap exports. For example, they were able to determine that the U.S. exported between 1.1 million and 7 million used computers, and 779,000 and 5.7 million used monitors in 2010.

Researchers also encountered export data that listed receiving countries as the final destinations, when it was likely many shipments were moving through those countries en route to other locations. For example, the top five destinations listed for U.S.-generated e-scrap exports (tracked by weight) were Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Venezuela and Italy. Top destinations for scrap from Canada were the U.S., Italy, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and Chile. For Mexico, the top export destinations were the U.S., Netherlands, Colombia, Canada and Venezuela.

"Although cumbersome to record, increased reporting of re-export destinations would greatly improve the accuracy of final destinations for trade flows because it would provide a more realistic depiction of the transactions taking place," according to the report. "The current trade code system can denote only two trade partners."

In addition to recommending the tracking of final destinations of re-exported e-scrap, researchers called for more open access to Canadian and U.S. shipment-level trade data. They also recommended all three countries, including Mexico, provide more accurate sales data. Additionally, they suggested creating trade codes for used products that would allow better tracking, because the current export codes don't distinguish between used and new electronics.

The U.S. Census Bureau, which records data on U.S. imports and exports, is considering adding a "used electronics" category to the automated export tracking system.

​​ 

Source: Jared Paben, E-Scrap News 
(resource-recycling) 

9th Annual Wisconsin Sustainable Business Conference

December 8, 2016
Empire Screen Printing, N520 Marco Rd, Onalaska, WI
Type: Conference

Description:
Each December, the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council welcomes the Wisconsin business community for a direct business-to-business exchange of sustainability experiences, challenges, tools, solutions and ideas. The annual conference brings outstanding speakers together in a design that maximizes interaction with the audience.

Contact Information:

@Walmart #Sustainable Packaging Position Statement and Supplier Playbook

What Walmart is Doing to Increase the Recyclability and Sustainability of Product Packaging...
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(Waste360) While Walmart Stores Inc. has been working toward a zero waste goal for at least a decade, the company is now hoping to motivate its suppliers to consider sustainability and recyclability in product packaging. By targeting three main areas—packaging optimization, sustainable sourcing and increased recycling—Walmart is looking to help make packaging more sustainable, while continuing to keep product prices low.

Last week, at a Sustainable Packaging Summit, Walmart released its Sustainable Packaging Playbook, a guidebook for suppliers to improve packaging sustainability. Hundreds of Walmart suppliers and merchants attended the meeting and viewed the playbook, which gave suppliers a clearer picture on what the leading retailer is looking for in terms of packaging sustainability.

Walmart says the Playbook can help suppliers reduce cost, as well as improve their Sustainability Index score. Developed in collaboration with The Sustainability Consortium(TSC)—an organization dedicated to improving sustainability of consumer products—the index gives Walmart suppliers the opportunity to highlight important steps they are taking toward sustainability. It also helps suppliers improve their Index score by demonstrating a quantified environmental impact reduction through those measures.

Zach Freeze, director of strategic initiatives for sustainability at Walmart says the hope is to keep it simple for suppliers. The playbook, he says, states the direction and the priorities at Walmart so suppliers, merchants, and everyone on the procurement side can understand a bit more about what's important for sustainable packaging. The book also gives them details and examples on what that means.

"For us it's kind of a re-ignition of sustainable packaging and bringing it back into focus for people in our business and the buyers who provide products to us," Freeze says. "It just clearly states what we mean by sustainable packaging and what we are encouraging them to do."

The playbook deals with sustainable sourcing by encouraging suppliers to maximize recycled and sustainably sourced renewable content, while enhancing the health of the materials they use in their packaging.

Walmart also wants suppliers to optimize design by finding ways to reduce unnecessary packaging materials, such as extra boxes, ties or layers, while still protecting the product.

"Don't over pack. Don't under pack. Get it right," he says.

The company also is encouraging suppliers to increase recyclable content in packaging, while working to improve infrastructure for hard-to-recycle materials. Additionally, Walmart wants suppliers to clearly communicate recyclability by using consumer-friendly labels, such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition's How2Recycle label.

"Walmart has done some really amazing stuff on sustainability, on packaging and food waste recovery. They have clearly done some very good work on it," says Chaz Miller, director of policy/advocacy for the National Waste & Recycling Association, in Washington, D.C.

But Walmart is a company that sells items to the public, he says.

"Whatever changes this makes for Walmart packaging, their customers buy those packages and have to make those purchasing decisions," he says.

Freeze says he thinks the majority of customers want to do the right thing where recycling is concerned, they just need help to do it. That's where labeling comes in to play.

"Packaging is very important for sustainability. Hopefully the customer will appreciate that information and hopefully put it to use. Then we'll start to see even better recycling numbers across the U.S. on materials being recycled. That's the ultimate goal. It is: how do we help the customer out, and how do we drive the materials to be recycled."

Studies show, says Freeze, the majority of consumers assume unlabeled packaging it is not recyclable.

The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), the national trade association representing companies who acquire, reprocess and sell much of the post-consumer plastic processing capacity in North America, thinks the Walmart's focus on packaging sustainability will impact both suppliers and the retail industry.

"We think it is huge. We think it's going to have a huge impact on brand owners on the way they design their packages," says Steve Alexander, executive director of APR.

Alexander, who participated in Walmart's meeting last week, gave a presentation on the association's Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability, which APR describes as a comprehensive, user-friendly resource outlining the plastics recycling industry's recommendations in the current marketplace.

Alexander says the guidelines also will impact the plastics recycling industry as demand increases. By Walmart placing the guidelines on packaging, there's going to be more demand for materials from the recycling industry, which then will go back through the chain and encourage more collection materials, he says.

"So for us, we think this could have a very large impact—not just on sustainability in general, but certainly for the plastics recycling industry; we think this could go a long way toward not just enhancing the demand for recycled products but also encouraging brand owners to design their packaging so they are compatible with recycling," he says.

The three focus area – packaging optimization, increased recycling and sustainable sourcing—not strictly compatible goals, Miller says.

"Some of what I see here is Walmart trying to work its way through the tension between sustainable materials management, source reduction and recyclability. And at the same time and make sure that their customers, the public who comes in and buys things from Walmart, goes along with those changes. At the end of the day, it's what their customers buy that determines how effective what Walmart does will be."

Miller says Walmart can only drive so much change. It's up to the public to accept it. For example, the EPA says flexible packaging is a very green product when you look at the overall footprint, but flexible packaging is not recyclable.

"I don't think Walmart is going to stop selling products in flexible packaging."

If their goal is sustainability, recycling is one aspect but by no means is it the only aspect. 

Source: http://www.waste360.com/generators/what-walmart-doing-increase-recyclability-and-sustainability-product-packaging