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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: January 8, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, January 8, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

January 8, 2021

The E-Newsbrief of the National Clearinghouse is a free weekly newsletter focusing on new developments in the world of worker health and safety. Each issue provides summaries of the latest worker health and safety news from newspapers, magazines, journals, government reports, and the Web, along with links to the original documents. Also featured each week are updates from government agencies that handle hazmat and worker safety issues such as DOE, EPA, OSHA and others.

Subscribing to the National Clearinghouse Newsbrief is the best way to stay on top of the worker health and safety news.

Top StoriesBack to Top

NIEHS WTP COVID-19 Winter Series: Addressing the Role of the Vaccine in Workplace COVID-19 Prevention: How to Weed through Misinformation, Mistrust, and Improve Worker Protection

It is difficult to weed through all the noise online, in the news, on social media, and in our communities about the impact of the vaccine, especially in the workplace. This NIEHS WTP webinar will address why the vaccine will not be an immediate answer for preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and what that means for staying true to the industrial hygiene hierarchy of controls. It will help attendees to sort through information, fears, and mistrust and use it to build safer environments for workers. The webinar will be held on Jan. 14 at 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

‘Engineering Feat.’ World’s Largest Plant for Nuclear Waste Cleanup at Hanford Ready for Startup

After more than 18 years, construction is finished on the key parts of the $17 billion Hanford vitrification plant that will be needed for initial treatment of radioactive waste. The Department of Energy and its contractor Bechtel National now will spend the next three years starting up all the systems needed to treat low activity radioactive waste and then practice operating the plant with a nonradioactive waste simulant.

Tri-City Herald [Author: Annette Cary]

Deadline Delayed Again to Start Treating Millions of Gallons of Hanford Radioactive Waste

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has again been granted more time to start treatment of radioactive waste at the Hanford site’s $17 billion vitrification plant. DOE was required to start limited operation of the plant by the end of 2023 to treat some of the least radioactive of 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks at the nuclear reservation.

Tri-City Herald [Author: Annette Cary]

Omnibus Spending Bill for 2021 Has Raises for DOE Nuclear Programs

On Jan. 3, President Donald Trump signed a permanent 2021 spending bill that locks in raises for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) major nuclear waste and weapons programs. DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) would receive over $7.5 billion for the rest of 2021, some $130 million over the 2020 budget and over $1 billion more than the administration requested.

Exchange Monitor

Fluor Reports Cleanup Progress, Says IWTU to Start Next Year

The company in charge of cleanup at the U.S. Department of Energy desert site west of Idaho Falls reported some progress over the past year, one notable upcoming milestone being that the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) could finally start processing sodium-bearing waste next summer.

Post Register [Author: Nathan Brown]

Worker Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals at Rubicon Plant in Geismar Linked to Poor Maintenance Record

Ryan Housley, an employee of Turner Engineering assigned to the Rubicon site, quickly returned to Geismar. Medical personnel at Rubicon’s first-aid center quickly diagnosed the problem: He had been exposed to aniline, a toxic chemical used to make plastics. It was causing oxygen levels in his blood to drop to dangerous levels. [Author: Mark Schleifstein]

FEMA Rates Los Angeles the Most Dangerous County for Natural Disasters

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has calculated the risk for every county in America for 18 types of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, volcanoes and even tsunamis. And of the more than 3,000 counties, Los Angeles County has the highest ranking in the National Risk Index.

Washington Post [Author: Seth Borenstein, AP]

FEMA Risk Index

Arizona Workers File Hundreds of COVID-19 Workplace Safety Complaints; No One Is Cited

The Industrial Commission of Arizona received more than 400 complaints in 2020 about workplace safety during the novel coronavirus pandemic, but hadn't cited a single employer through mid-December.

AZ Central [Author: Alison Steinbach, Arizona Republic]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Oil & Gas - Assessing Operational HSE Hazards and Applying Contemporary Solutions

Columbia Southern University, in partnership with Intelex Technologies, ULC, and Honeywell, is sponsoring a webinar on Jan. 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET. This presentation introduces the theoretical chemistry behind these techniques, as well as the most appropriate placement of these techniques within affected work system designs to keep workers safe.

Webinar Information

CBPR Partnership Academy Requests for Applications

The Detroit Community Academic Urban Research Center invites applicants for their Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Partnership Academy. It is designed for community members and academic researchers with little or no CBPR experience who are interested in enhancing their knowledge and skills using a CBPR approach, to conduct research and action in collaborative partnership aimed at eliminating health inequities in their communities. The deadline to apply is Jan. 27.

More Information

Forklift Safety & Compliance: Answering the Tough Questions

Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks (PITs) have seen a renewed focus recently with the observance of National Forklift Safety Day, a revised ANSI lift truck industry standard, and a regulatory agenda item to revise the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard. The webinar will be held on Feb. 11 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Information

Online Abstract Submissions for APHA’s "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness"

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is now accepting abstract submissions for oral and poster presentations for the APHA 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo. Authors are encouraged to submit abstracts on the meeting theme, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness," and current and emerging public health issues. The deadline to submit is March 21.

More Information

Save the Date: Brownfields 2021

The goal of the National Brownfields Training Conference is to provide a networking and learning environment for the brownfields’ community. Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and having these considerations in mind, Brownfields 2021 will be rescheduled from its current April dates. Brownfields 2021 will now be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from Sept. 27-30, 2021.

More Information

Register Now for the Environmental Justice and Natural Disasters/COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall Meeting: Southeast and Caribbean Basin Region

The Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Environmental Justice (EJ) and Natural Disaster Subcommittee is hosting three virtual Regional Town Hall Meetings in early 2021. The first two-hour virtual Town Hall Meeting will focus on the Southeast and Caribbean Basin Region (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

EJ and Natural Disasters Town Hall

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Fueled by Climate Change, Wildfires Threaten Toxic Superfund Sites

With wildfires heightened by climate change threatening 234 Superfund sites across the country, according to the federal government, the OU3 Libby Asbestos Site presents a kind of worst-case scenario in which a wildfire could send asbestos-contaminated ash into nearby communities. Some firefighters worry a plume of smoke could carry the forest’s toxins hundreds of miles away.

Inside Climate News [Author: Michael Kodas and David Hasemyer]

NJDOL Received Nearly 1,200 Allegations of Violations in First Four Weeks of Worker Protection Order

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) received 1,181 complaints from workers and customers in the first four weeks of Gov. Murphy’s executive order expanding workplace protections during COVID-19. Of those complaints, 237 cases have been investigated and resolved by the NJDOL, with 159 of those cases closed after employers documented their efforts to comply with the executive order.

Insider NJ

State of California Classifying Treated Wood Waste as Hazardous Material

Due to expiring State waivers, pressure-treated wood, which is sometimes required by the California Building Code, will be classified by the State of California as hazardous material effective Jan. 1, 2021. Residential customers will have a limited ability to dispose of treated wood waste with Mendo Recycle for a fee, but immediate solutions are practically not available for commercial customers.

Willits News

California is the First in the Nation to Add Solar Panels to Universal Waste Program

On Jan. 1, California became the first state in the nation to add hazardous waste solar panels to its universal waste program, a move intended to promote solar panel recycling and reuse and to keep them out of landfills. The new regulation is a steppingstone toward the full “cradle-to-grave” approach for climate initiatives that California sets forth and acts as a model for the rest of the nation to follow.

California Department of Toxics Substance Control

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

EPA Launches New Clearinghouse for Environmental Finance

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a Clearinghouse for Environmental Finance (Clearinghouse), an online database of land, air, and water information. This new Clearinghouse catalogues available funding, financing, and instructional resources to aid communities in their efforts to improve environmental conditions. The Clearinghouse expands on the concept of the original Water Finance Clearinghouse, launched in 2017.

Clearinghouse for Environmental Finance

EPA Releases Interim Guidance on Destruction and Disposal of PFAS

On Dec. 18, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released interim guidance on destruction and disposal of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) and materials containing PFAS. EPA notably ranks interim storage of such materials for the next two to five years as most protective of the environment and encourages that option where possible until there is further research available on the risk of potential harm associated with other disposal options.

National Law Review

EPA Interim Guidance

Department of Labor Issues New Rule on Collection of Civil Penalties

On Dec. 23, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule on debt collection in an initiative designed to enable the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other DOL agencies improve their collection of civil penalties.

DOL Final Rule

EHS Daily [Author: Guy Burdick]

NIOSH Drug Overdose Deaths at Work - Full Infographic

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released resources and infographics that highlight key findings from drug overdose deaths at work from 2011 to 2016. The infographics are available in a variety of digital formats.

NIOSH Infographics

FEMA Cost of Assistance Estimates in the Disaster Declaration Process for the Public Assistance Program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is proposing a rule to substantively revise the “Estimated cost of the assistance” disaster declaration factor that FEMA uses to review a Governor's request for a major disaster under the Public Assistance Program. FEMA proposes revisions to this factor to more accurately assess the disaster response capabilities of states to respond to the direction of Congress in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018.

Federal Register

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

NIEHS Podcast Episode with ECWTP Director

A new podcast episode showcases the success of the NIEHS Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP). The podcast features an interview with ECWTP Director Sharon Beard and Martanaze Hancock, an ECWTP graduate from the previously funded Alice Hamilton Occupational Health Center. Beard and Hancock discuss more about the program and how it has helped change lives over the past 25 years.


WTP Fall 2020 Workshop Website Is Now Available

Participants from the NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) gathered virtually for their semi-annual workshop on Sept. 23-24 to discuss strategies to enhance and unify efforts for the next five years. The WTP Fall 2020 website is now available with the meeting recording, presentations including the keynote address from Linda Rae Murray, M.D., and additional resources.

WTP Fall 2020 Workshop

CPWR Small Study Grant Funding Available

The Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) Small Study Program, which supports promising new research initiatives on improving construction safety and health, has a particular interest in studies that plan to work with and/or target small employers, those with 19 employees or fewer. CPWR are also interested in innovative approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation, distancing, and respirators.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

BlueGreen Alliance Seeks Three Field Organizers

The BlueGreen Alliance is hiring an Appalachian, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain Regional Field Organizer. The position will build, maintain, and mobilize labor and environmental coalitions across the region to support BGA’s federal initiatives. BGA unites America’s largest labor unions and its most influential environmental organizations.

Appalachian Regional Field Organizer Position

Midwest Regional Field Organizer Position

Rocky Mountain Regional Field Organizer Position

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