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Newsletter
Volume 81
August 2, 2010
Willard Agri-Service Earns Environmental Respect's Top Award
Congratulations go out to Willard Agri-Service of Greenwood, DE for being name the 2010 National Environmental Respect Award winner. Michael Twining, General Manager at Willard Agri-Service, accepted the award at a special ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Building on July 22. The facility won the award based on excellence in site design, in-plant storage and handling procedures, proper application and leadership in safety and stewardship among customers, employees and within the ag industry.
The company received a personalized crystal sculpture at the ceremony. Representatives from Willard Agri-Service will also visit the Environmental Respect Award winning business in another country on an agricultural tour next year. The Environmental Respect Award, sponsored by CropLife magazine and DuPont Crop Protection, is the agricultural industry's highest recognition for environmental stewardship among U.S. agricultural retailers. Our congratulations go to the Willard family and each member of their team of professionals for winning this prestigious award and also serving as a model example of action and leadership to others within the agricultural industry. The Willard family and team helped write the book when it comes to answering the questions in the next article.
Are you working as if your livelihood depends on it?
If you are lucky enough to take a vacation amidst the current severe economy and regulatory environment, then you will understand what I'm about to describe. You already know how one has to work double hard in order to be able to leave work and go on vacation, and again to catch up upon returning? At the time, maybe it doesn't feel like it's worth it - but it always is. We all have responsibilities that must be tended to in order to ensure our livelihoods and provide for our families. Granted, most of us think of our immediate job when the subject of livelihoods arise, but as we experience a more social economy, the definition of livelihood becomes broader, and with it appears more challenges.
We in agriculture seem to have accepted the fact of being just 0.7% of the population of the United States will fare well for our futures. In more moderate times, those employed in agriculture knew this wasn't a positive, but the feeling was that because we feed and cloth our nation, our voice would always be heard and considered by the those who benefit from our work. Reports of a recent TV morning show interview where the guest argued that "the invention of agriculture was the greatest mistake of the human race," was startling, both in 1987 when it was first written and today prompted, by current media. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack saw the show and asked for equal time. Vilsack, who was already irritated by media bashing production agriculture said, "You may never need a police officer. But every day - two or three times a day - you need a farmer." This growing trend, as recognized by Secretary Vilsack, should serve as our wake-up call to a renewed spirit and the repackaging of "old" environmental topics such as Inherently Safer Technologies (IST) into newer, more socially-accepted forms of anti-agriculture. It seems to be a sign of the times and will without a doubt, have an affect on our livelihoods. Are you working as if your livelihood depends on it? Take this test:
  • Are you an active member of your State agribusiness association?
  • Does your company hold active membership in at least one of the national agribusiness associations?
  • Do you personally have an active working relationship with your Members of Congress?
  • Do you seek out business partners/suppliers that actively work on the behalf of agriculture?
  • Do you actively hold the associations, that you pay membership to, accountable for the end result of working on your behalf?
  • Can you give three examples of where you have acted on behalf of the livelihoods of those in your industry, including your own, in 2010?
If your answers weren't an easy, and yes, active "yes" to each of the above questions, then you need to revisit the definition of "livelihood" and begin to work as if you are preparing to leave for vacation, to make up for lost time. As with vacations, maybe it won't feel like it's worth it at the time - but it most certainly will be - unless most of our industry sits back and waits for someone else to become active.
ESP: Saves Time...Saves Money!
One exciting aspect of the new Electronic Service Program (ESP) feature to be launched in October is providing the monthly training kits electronically. For clients who choose to participate in ESP their monthly training kit will be posted to Snapshots Management Dashboard in PDF format for easy retrieval. ESP will allow more time on site for the training to be performed by eliminating the shipping time, and clients will save on shipping costs as well. An essential part of providing the monthly training kits electronically is to preserve the advances made over the years in automating the scoring, authentication and document archival process. It's important the certificates flow smoothly through the equipment and process after being printed off on literally hundreds of different types and styles of printers around the country. We have been actively testing this phase of the process with sample certificates. More than a hundred locations have already helped by participating in this phase of the testing. We will be narrowing our focus in the coming weeks to a smaller focus group of about forty locations. Anyone interested in participating in the test should call Sherri at 270-926-4600, Extension 206 or Betty at Extension 219.
National Safety School 2010 - Register Today!
The National Agronomic Environmental Health and Safety School will be held on August 17th & 18th this year at the Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington, Illinois. There is a renewed spirit and level of energy in the Safety School and we encourage everyone to register and participate in this quality program. An outstanding lineup of national speakers for this year's program includes:
Jay Vroom
CropLife America President and CEO - Keynote
Pamela Guffain
TFI Vice President of Member Services - Washington Perspectives
Richard Gupton
ARA Vice President of Legislative Policy - Washington Perspectives
Rex Runyon
CropLife Vice President of Stewardship - Washington Perspectives
Brian Bothast
Illinois OSHA - Through the Eyes of an OSHA Inspector
Dr. Fred Whitford
Purdue Pesticide Programs - Preventing Poly Tank Failures
Troy Swackhammer
U.S. EPA - Final SPCC Rule
Steve Hutton
Dow AgroServices - Transportation Issues
Dave Peters
Monsanto - Transportation Issues
Don Schultz
Winfield Solutions - Transportation Issues
Richard Ghent
CF Industries - Phosphorus Production: Dig it!
Steve Mattioli
Illinois FMCSA Director - Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010
Chuck Kominski
Tessenderlo Kerley - Large Tank Specifications
Richard Cornett
Western Plant Health Association - Media Training
Nancy Fitz
U.S. EPA - Container/Containment Rule
Marty Fitzpatrick
BASF - Container/Containment Rule
Click here to view the full agenda and register. The Safety School program will benefit you and your staff! We ask that you seriously consider attending this year to see for yourself. The website address for the Safety School is: www.naehss.org.
While in Bloomington that week, we recommend you stay over an extra day or two and attend the Midwest AG Industries Expo (MAGIE) on August 18 & 19. It's truly the finest display of "ride and buy" shows in the United States. Click here for more information.
OSHA Requirements in Mine Safety Bill Could Expose Retailers to New Penalties
OSHA requirements included in the Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010, includes a variety of provisions intended to increase the power of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in response to recent mine disasters. While focused on mine safety, the legislation would also create new felony criminal sanctions against "any company officer or director" for "knowing" OSHA law violations but does not define "knowing" or offer any guidance or limitations on which officers or directors would face charges. The bill also sets unlimited liability for companies in whistleblower cases, and would give OSHA inspectors power to order immediate and costly changes to the workplace without showing an imminent safety threat or providing employers with a hearing or judicial review.
TFI Special Permit 13554 Renewal Underway
DOT is requesting certain information from The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) for the renewal of Special Permit (SP) 13554, which authorizes the continued use in transportation of nurse tanks with missing or illegible ASME dataplates under certain conditions. For businesses that are registered through the Nurse Tank Inspection Program (NTIP), SP-13554 will expire October 31, 2010. TFI will submit an application to DOT for renewal of the special permit on behalf of its members who indicate they want to continue to be covered by the Special Permit.
Each of the 368 principal place of business for the companies registered through TFI, will receive a Certified Mail letter during the week of August 2 with instructions and an authorization number to speed the process of renewing their Special Permit. The process to renew is easy and will take about ten minutes. Response to the mailing is required by August 10th to be continue to be covered by TFI's Special Permit.
The 368 principal places of business represent the 1,448 locations registered under the NTIP. The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) supports TFI on this expedited method of renewal according to a recent newsletter. Businesses that applied directly to DOT for SP-13554 party status will have varying permit expiration dates based on application date, and will be on their own to seek renewal. The TFI NTIP renewal notice does not concern businesses that registered on their own.
DOT Proposes to Convert Special Permits to Performance-Oriented Standard
Department of Transportation's (DOT) Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a proposal to incorporate six special permits into federal DOT regulation. Among the special permits recommended for incorporation are two special permits held by TFI on behalf of its members. SP-10950 has been in effect since 1993 and authorizes nurse tanks to be securely mounted on field trucks in the Pacific Northwest. SP-13554 has been in effect since 2004 and authorizes nurse tanks with the missing or illegible identification plate to continue in operation so long as they are tested and pass certain tests. PHMSA cited the positive track record of TFI and the industry as part of the reason these special permits were selected to be codified. This proposal only addresses nurse tanks with the missing or illegible identification plate. Comments on the proposal are due not later than August 20, 2010. On December 14, 2008, TFI submitted a Petition for Rulemaking to DOT asking that DOT require testing of all nurse tanks as required under SP-13554. Click here for a copy of the Federal Register Notice.
2010 Emergency Response Training
Invitations for the last set of 40 hour Full Course training in LaVergne, Tennessee have been mailed. The last five classes in October and November will be the last classes held in 2010. These classes are beginning to fill up, so register today to ensure space is available for the class of your choice. Register online by clicking here.
EPA Grants Iowa $70,000 to Help Anhydrous Ammonia Facilities Comply
EPA awarded the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) a $70,000 grant to assist with outreach, education and implementation of the Risk Management Program (RMP). Fertilizer facilities that handle, process or store more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia are subject to EPA's requirements. "EPA wants to assure the continued safe handling of anhydrous ammonia which is a source of nitrogen fertilizer widely used for corn, milo and wheat," said Karl Brooks, Regional Administrator. "This grant is designed to prevent releases and protect the health and safety of area residents, employees at the facilities, emergency responders and the environment."
IDALS is to use to money to conduct on-site audits, workshops and follow-up safety assessments at retail anhydrous ammonia facilities in Iowa. Anhydrous ammonia is generally safe provided handling, storage and maintenance procedures are followed. Ammonia is toxic and can be a health hazard, especially if inhaled. EPA Region 7 receives more accidental release reports for ammonia than for any other chemical. In addition to releases caused by transportation accidents, human error and equipment failure, a number of releases have been caused by anhydrous ammonia thefts. Anhydrous ammonia is a key ingredient in the illegal production of methamphetamine. When stolen, the toxic gas can be unintentionally released, causing injuries to emergency responders, law enforcement personnel, the public and the criminals themselves.
DHS Mandates Facilities Complete Survey in 60 Days
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent an "Agriculture Survey" to approximately a thousand CFATS facilities recently. DHS is collecting information from CFATS facilities that sell, transfer or commercially apply a Chemical of Interest (COI)-containing products to farms and other agricultural production facilities. It appears that DHS will likely use an alternate submission system for farmers under the CFATS program.
Note: While DHS indicates "your input is critical to make the system user-friendly for your customers and help minimize the need for your company's involvement in their submission of information to DHS," we want to point out that based on past experiences, this would be one more aspect of uneven requirements between retailers and farmers that contributes to the already unlevel playing field. COI products at a retailer pose no different threat to security than those held by a farmer.
On December 21, 2007, DHS granted an indefinite extension for farmers and other agricultural facilities from being required to complete a Top-Screen. The extension was intended to allow DHS time to gather more information regarding the storage and use of COI materials at these agricultural production facilities. The Agriculture Survey will collect information on the types of COI and COI-containing products provided to these agricultural production facilities as well as certain information, where available, about those customers' use and handling of the COI-containing products.
Hours of Service; Limited Exemption Proposed for Distribution of Anhydrous
DOT announced a proposal to grant a 2-year, limited exemption from the Federal hours-of service regulations for the transportation of anhydrous ammonia from any distribution point to a local farm retailer or to the ultimate consumer, and from a local farm retailer to the ultimate consumer, as long as the transportation takes place within a 100 air-mile radius of the retail or wholesale distribution point. This exemption would extend the agricultural operations exemption to certain drivers and motor carriers engaged in the distribution of anhydrous ammonia during the planting and harvesting seasons, as defined by the States in which the carriers and drivers operate. The Agency believes that the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption, based on the terms and conditions imposed. This exemption would preempt inconsistent State and local requirements applicable to interstate commerce. Comments must be received on or before August 13, 2010. You may submit comments identified by Federal Docket Management System Number FMCSA-2010-0230 by any of the following methods. Web site: http://www.regulations.gov. Fax: 1-202-493-2251. Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., 20590-0001. Hand Delivery: Ground Floor, Room W12-140, DOT Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC,.
Bipartisan Senate Group Warns EPA on Dust Rulemaking
Senator Charles Grassley (IA), backed by a bipartisan group of 19 Senators, primarily from farming states, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson telling her to back off trying to regulate farm dust as part of the second draft of an air particulate policy assessment. "Considering EPA's history on agriculture issues, I'm greatly concerned that this puts us one step closer to imposing more regulations on farmers," Senator Charles Grassley said. "We all want a clean and healthy environment, but it defies common sense to mandate farmers keep dust between their fence rows when combining or that the county government keep gravel dust on the road." Opponents of the EPA action contend the draft policy would lead to particulate standards twice as stringent as currently on the books. Senator Mike Johanns (NE), who signed the letter, said Jackson should abandon strict new dust regulation recommendations. "EPA bureaucrats need to get out of their offices and visit a farm so they understand that farming is inherently dusty," Johanns said.
Justice Department Defends Insurance Mandate as a Tax
Lawyers for the Department of Justice who are defending the health care reform provision that requires all Americans to purchase insurance said in a brief that the mandate is part of the government's "power to lay and collect taxes." This, critics say, is a departure from the arguments Democrats and the Obama administration made as they were working to pass the health care reforms.
OSHA Program Rule Could Include Ergonomics
OSHA recently briefed stakeholders on the upcoming illness and injury prevention program (IIPP). OSHA officials admit they may include issues not currently covered by an existing OSHA standard, including ergonomics. "That is one of the areas we're looking at. In some respects, we're going beyond what's in our standards," said David Wallis, Director of the Office of Engineering Safety in OSHA's standards directorate. "We haven't developed a proposal yet." The new rule could extend into other program areas, including chemical hazards, where there are no specific OSHA rules. OSHA seems intent on bringing the ergonomics issue forward, again after more than one failed attempt over the past two decades.
Kentucky Ban on Texting While Driving Took Effect July 15
Kentucky law now bans texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion. For drivers over 18, it allows the use of global positioning devices and reading, selecting or entering a telephone number or name for the purpose of making a phone call. Texting is allowed only to report illegal activity or to request medical or emergency aid. For drivers under 18, use of all personal communication devices such as cell phones and pagers is not allowed while the vehicle is in motion. The use of a global positioning system is allowed, but manually entering information must be completed while the vehicle is stopped. Emergency and public safety vehicles are exempt when the use of a personal communication device is essential to the operator's official duties. Law enforcement officers will issue warnings until January 1, 2011. Thereafter violators will be liable for fines of $25 on a first offense and $50 on each subsequent offense.
Vibrating Seat Helps Drivers Stay Safe
Yale University researchers have embedded a series of motors and buzzers into the seat of an experimental car to help drivers stay safe and alert. The seat vibrates when other vehicles approach, providing a physical prompt that scientists say is easier to process and less distracting than the beeps and blinking lights used by most warning systems. What will they think of next?
2010 Asmark Institute, Inc. This information is believed to be reliable by the Asmark Institute, however, because of constantly changing government regulations, interpretations and applicability or the possibility of human, mechanical or computer error, the Asmark Institute does not guarantee the information as suitable for any particular purpose.
Willard Agri-Service Earns Environmental Respect's Top Award
Congratulations go out to Willard Agri-Service of Greenwood, DE for being name the 2010 National Environmental Respect Award winner. Michael Twining, General Manager at Willard Agri-Service, accepted the award at a special ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Building on July 22. The facility won the award based on excellence in site design, in-plant storage and handling procedures, proper application and leadership in safety and stewardship among customers, employees and within the ag industry.
The company received a personalized crystal sculpture at the ceremony. Representatives from Willard Agri-Service will also visit the Environmental Respect Award winning business in another country on an agricultural tour next year. The Environmental Respect Award, sponsored by CropLife magazine and DuPont Crop Protection, is the agricultural industry's highest recognition for environmental stewardship among U.S. agricultural retailers. Our congratulations go to the Willard family and each member of their team of professionals for winning this prestigious award and also serving as a model example of action and leadership to others within the agricultural industry. The Willard family and team helped write the book when it comes to answering the questions in the next article.
Are you working as if your livelihood depends on it?
If you are lucky enough to take a vacation amidst the current severe economy and regulatory environment, then you will understand what I'm about to describe. You already know how one has to work double hard in order to be able to leave work and go on vacation, and again to catch up upon returning? At the time, maybe it doesn't feel like it's worth it - but it always is. We all have responsibilities that must be tended to in order to ensure our livelihoods and provide for our families. Granted, most of us think of our immediate job when the subject of livelihoods arise, but as we experience a more social economy, the definition of livelihood becomes broader, and with it appears more challenges.
We in agriculture seem to have accepted the fact of being just 0.7% of the population of the United States will fare well for our futures. In more moderate times, those employed in agriculture knew this wasn't a positive, but the feeling was that because we feed and cloth our nation, our voice would always be heard and considered by the those who benefit from our work. Reports of a recent TV morning show interview where the guest argued that "the invention of agriculture was the greatest mistake of the human race," was startling, both in 1987 when it was first written and today prompted, by current media. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack saw the show and asked for equal time. Vilsack, who was already irritated by media bashing production agriculture said, "You may never need a police officer. But every day - two or three times a day - you need a farmer." This growing trend, as recognized by Secretary Vilsack, should serve as our wake-up call to a renewed spirit and the repackaging of "old" environmental topics such as Inherently Safer Technologies (IST) into newer, more socially-accepted forms of anti-agriculture. It seems to be a sign of the times and will without a doubt, have an affect on our livelihoods. Are you working as if your livelihood depends on it? Take this test:
  • Are you an active member of your State agribusiness association?
  • Does your company hold active membership in at least one of the national agribusiness associations?
  • Do you personally have an active working relationship with your Members of Congress?
  • Do you seek out business partners/suppliers that actively work on the behalf of agriculture?
  • Do you actively hold the associations, that you pay membership to, accountable for the end result of working on your behalf?
  • Can you give three examples of where you have acted on behalf of the livelihoods of those in your industry, including your own, in 2010?
If your answers weren't an easy, and yes, active "yes" to each of the above questions, then you need to revisit the definition of "livelihood" and begin to work as if you are preparing to leave for vacation, to make up for lost time. As with vacations, maybe it won't feel like it's worth it at the time - but it most certainly will be - unless most of our industry sits back and waits for someone else to become active.
ESP: Saves Time...Saves Money!
One exciting aspect of the new Electronic Service Program (ESP) feature to be launched in October is providing the monthly training kits electronically. For clients who choose to participate in ESP their monthly training kit will be posted to Snapshots Management Dashboard in PDF format for easy retrieval. ESP will allow more time on site for the training to be performed by eliminating the shipping time, and clients will save on shipping costs as well. An essential part of providing the monthly training kits electronically is to preserve the advances made over the years in automating the scoring, authentication and document archival process. It's important the certificates flow smoothly through the equipment and process after being printed off on literally hundreds of different types and styles of printers around the country. We have been actively testing this phase of the process with sample certificates. More than a hundred locations have already helped by participating in this phase of the testing. We will be narrowing our focus in the coming weeks to a smaller focus group of about forty locations. Anyone interested in participating in the test should call Sherri at 270-926-4600, Extension 206 or Betty at Extension 219.
National Safety School 2010 - Register Today!
The National Agronomic Environmental Health and Safety School will be held on August 17th & 18th this year at the Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington, Illinois. There is a renewed spirit and level of energy in the Safety School and we encourage everyone to register and participate in this quality program. An outstanding lineup of national speakers for this year's program includes:
Jay Vroom
CropLife America President and CEO - Keynote
Pamela Guffain
TFI Vice President of Member Services - Washington Perspectives
Richard Gupton
ARA Vice President of Legislative Policy - Washington Perspectives
Rex Runyon
CropLife Vice President of Stewardship - Washington Perspectives
Brian Bothast
Illinois OSHA - Through the Eyes of an OSHA Inspector
Dr. Fred Whitford
Purdue Pesticide Programs - Preventing Poly Tank Failures
Troy Swackhammer
U.S. EPA - Final SPCC Rule
Steve Hutton
Dow AgroServices - Transportation Issues
Dave Peters
Monsanto - Transportation Issues
Don Schultz
Winfield Solutions - Transportation Issues
Richard Ghent
CF Industries - Phosphorus Production: Dig it!
Steve Mattioli
Illinois FMCSA Director - Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010
Chuck Kominski
Tessenderlo Kerley - Large Tank Specifications
Richard Cornett
Western Plant Health Association - Media Training
Nancy Fitz
U.S. EPA - Container/Containment Rule
Marty Fitzpatrick
BASF - Container/Containment Rule
Click here to view the full agenda and register. The Safety School program will benefit you and your staff! We ask that you seriously consider attending this year to see for yourself. The website address for the Safety School is: www.naehss.org.
While in Bloomington that week, we recommend you stay over an extra day or two and attend the Midwest AG Industries Expo (MAGIE) on August 18 & 19. It's truly the finest display of "ride and buy" shows in the United States. Click here for more information.
OSHA Requirements in Mine Safety Bill Could Expose Retailers to New Penalties
OSHA requirements included in the Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010, includes a variety of provisions intended to increase the power of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in response to recent mine disasters. While focused on mine safety, the legislation would also create new felony criminal sanctions against "any company officer or director" for "knowing" OSHA law violations but does not define "knowing" or offer any guidance or limitations on which officers or directors would face charges. The bill also sets unlimited liability for companies in whistleblower cases, and would give OSHA inspectors power to order immediate and costly changes to the workplace without showing an imminent safety threat or providing employers with a hearing or judicial review.
TFI Special Permit 13554 Renewal Underway
DOT is requesting certain information from The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) for the renewal of Special Permit (SP) 13554, which authorizes the continued use in transportation of nurse tanks with missing or illegible ASME dataplates under certain conditions. For businesses that are registered through the Nurse Tank Inspection Program (NTIP), SP-13554 will expire October 31, 2010. TFI will submit an application to DOT for renewal of the special permit on behalf of its members who indicate they want to continue to be covered by the Special Permit.
Each of the 368 principal place of business for the companies registered through TFI, will receive a Certified Mail letter during the week of August 2 with instructions and an authorization number to speed the process of renewing their Special Permit. The process to renew is easy and will take about ten minutes. Response to the mailing is required by August 10th to be continue to be covered by TFI's Special Permit.
The 368 principal places of business represent the 1,448 locations registered under the NTIP. The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) supports TFI on this expedited method of renewal according to a recent newsletter. Businesses that applied directly to DOT for SP-13554 party status will have varying permit expiration dates based on application date, and will be on their own to seek renewal. The TFI NTIP renewal notice does not concern businesses that registered on their own.
DOT Proposes to Convert Special Permits to Performance-Oriented Standard
Department of Transportation's (DOT) Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a proposal to incorporate six special permits into federal DOT regulation. Among the special permits recommended for incorporation are two special permits held by TFI on behalf of its members. SP-10950 has been in effect since 1993 and authorizes nurse tanks to be securely mounted on field trucks in the Pacific Northwest. SP-13554 has been in effect since 2004 and authorizes nurse tanks with the missing or illegible identification plate to continue in operation so long as they are tested and pass certain tests. PHMSA cited the positive track record of TFI and the industry as part of the reason these special permits were selected to be codified. This proposal only addresses nurse tanks with the missing or illegible identification plate. Comments on the proposal are due not later than August 20, 2010. On December 14, 2008, TFI submitted a Petition for Rulemaking to DOT asking that DOT require testing of all nurse tanks as required under SP-13554. Click here for a copy of the Federal Register Notice.
2010 Emergency Response Training
Invitations for the last set of 40 hour Full Course training in LaVergne, Tennessee have been mailed. The last five classes in October and November will be the last classes held in 2010. These classes are beginning to fill up, so register today to ensure space is available for the class of your choice. Register online by clicking here.
EPA Grants Iowa $70,000 to Help Anhydrous Ammonia Facilities Comply
EPA awarded the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) a $70,000 grant to assist with outreach, education and implementation of the Risk Management Program (RMP). Fertilizer facilities that handle, process or store more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia are subject to EPA's requirements. "EPA wants to assure the continued safe handling of anhydrous ammonia which is a source of nitrogen fertilizer widely used for corn, milo and wheat," said Karl Brooks, Regional Administrator. "This grant is designed to prevent releases and protect the health and safety of area residents, employees at the facilities, emergency responders and the environment."
IDALS is to use to money to conduct on-site audits, workshops and follow-up safety assessments at retail anhydrous ammonia facilities in Iowa. Anhydrous ammonia is generally safe provided handling, storage and maintenance procedures are followed. Ammonia is toxic and can be a health hazard, especially if inhaled. EPA Region 7 receives more accidental release reports for ammonia than for any other chemical. In addition to releases caused by transportation accidents, human error and equipment failure, a number of releases have been caused by anhydrous ammonia thefts. Anhydrous ammonia is a key ingredient in the illegal production of methamphetamine. When stolen, the toxic gas can be unintentionally released, causing injuries to emergency responders, law enforcement personnel, the public and the criminals themselves.
DHS Mandates Facilities Complete Survey in 60 Days
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent an "Agriculture Survey" to approximately a thousand CFATS facilities recently. DHS is collecting information from CFATS facilities that sell, transfer or commercially apply a Chemical of Interest (COI)-containing products to farms and other agricultural production facilities. It appears that DHS will likely use an alternate submission system for farmers under the CFATS program.
Note: While DHS indicates "your input is critical to make the system user-friendly for your customers and help minimize the need for your company's involvement in their submission of information to DHS," we want to point out that based on past experiences, this would be one more aspect of uneven requirements between retailers and farmers that contributes to the already unlevel playing field. COI products at a retailer pose no different threat to security than those held by a farmer.
On December 21, 2007, DHS granted an indefinite extension for farmers and other agricultural facilities from being required to complete a Top-Screen. The extension was intended to allow DHS time to gather more information regarding the storage and use of COI materials at these agricultural production facilities. The Agriculture Survey will collect information on the types of COI and COI-containing products provided to these agricultural production facilities as well as certain information, where available, about those customers' use and handling of the COI-containing products.
Hours of Service; Limited Exemption Proposed for Distribution of Anhydrous
DOT announced a proposal to grant a 2-year, limited exemption from the Federal hours-of service regulations for the transportation of anhydrous ammonia from any distribution point to a local farm retailer or to the ultimate consumer, and from a local farm retailer to the ultimate consumer, as long as the transportation takes place within a 100 air-mile radius of the retail or wholesale distribution point. This exemption would extend the agricultural operations exemption to certain drivers and motor carriers engaged in the distribution of anhydrous ammonia during the planting and harvesting seasons, as defined by the States in which the carriers and drivers operate. The Agency believes that the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption, based on the terms and conditions imposed. This exemption would preempt inconsistent State and local requirements applicable to interstate commerce. Comments must be received on or before August 13, 2010. You may submit comments identified by Federal Docket Management System Number FMCSA-2010-0230 by any of the following methods. Web site: http://www.regulations.gov. Fax: 1-202-493-2251. Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., 20590-0001. Hand Delivery: Ground Floor, Room W12-140, DOT Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC,.
Bipartisan Senate Group Warns EPA on Dust Rulemaking
Senator Charles Grassley (IA), backed by a bipartisan group of 19 Senators, primarily from farming states, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson telling her to back off trying to regulate farm dust as part of the second draft of an air particulate policy assessment. "Considering EPA's history on agriculture issues, I'm greatly concerned that this puts us one step closer to imposing more regulations on farmers," Senator Charles Grassley said. "We all want a clean and healthy environment, but it defies common sense to mandate farmers keep dust between their fence rows when combining or that the county government keep gravel dust on the road." Opponents of the EPA action contend the draft policy would lead to particulate standards twice as stringent as currently on the books. Senator Mike Johanns (NE), who signed the letter, said Jackson should abandon strict new dust regulation recommendations. "EPA bureaucrats need to get out of their offices and visit a farm so they understand that farming is inherently dusty," Johanns said.
Justice Department Defends Insurance Mandate as a Tax
Lawyers for the Department of Justice who are defending the health care reform provision that requires all Americans to purchase insurance said in a brief that the mandate is part of the government's "power to lay and collect taxes." This, critics say, is a departure from the arguments Democrats and the Obama administration made as they were working to pass the health care reforms.
OSHA Program Rule Could Include Ergonomics
OSHA recently briefed stakeholders on the upcoming illness and injury prevention program (IIPP). OSHA officials admit they may include issues not currently covered by an existing OSHA standard, including ergonomics. "That is one of the areas we're looking at. In some respects, we're going beyond what's in our standards," said David Wallis, Director of the Office of Engineering Safety in OSHA's standards directorate. "We haven't developed a proposal yet." The new rule could extend into other program areas, including chemical hazards, where there are no specific OSHA rules. OSHA seems intent on bringing the ergonomics issue forward, again after more than one failed attempt over the past two decades.
Kentucky Ban on Texting While Driving Took Effect July 15
Kentucky law now bans texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion. For drivers over 18, it allows the use of global positioning devices and reading, selecting or entering a telephone number or name for the purpose of making a phone call. Texting is allowed only to report illegal activity or to request medical or emergency aid. For drivers under 18, use of all personal communication devices such as cell phones and pagers is not allowed while the vehicle is in motion. The use of a global positioning system is allowed, but manually entering information must be completed while the vehicle is stopped. Emergency and public safety vehicles are exempt when the use of a personal communication device is essential to the operator's official duties. Law enforcement officers will issue warnings until January 1, 2011. Thereafter violators will be liable for fines of $25 on a first offense and $50 on each subsequent offense.
Vibrating Seat Helps Drivers Stay Safe
Yale University researchers have embedded a series of motors and buzzers into the seat of an experimental car to help drivers stay safe and alert. The seat vibrates when other vehicles approach, providing a physical prompt that scientists say is easier to process and less distracting than the beeps and blinking lights used by most warning systems. What will they think of next?
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