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EPA relaxes rules on reporting of release of toxic chemicals
Delaware Online
By JEFF MONTGOMERY, The News Journal
December 18, 2006

The Environmental Protection Agency approved new rules today that will quadruple the amount of some toxic pollutants that companies can release before they have to reveal the amounts to the public.

Federal officials originally proposed a 10-fold increase in the trigger for public reports on most chemicals covered by the the 20-year-old "Toxic Release Inventory" program. EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock said the revised limits will ease regulatory burdens on industry while giving companies an incentive to recycle or better manage toxic compounds.

Environmental groups and some state and local regulators opposed the change, arguing that the public's loss of information about pollution would far outweigh benefits to industry. Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control warned last year that the original proposal would have eliminated 35 percent of the detailed chemical reports issued by Delaware businesses in 2004.

"Pollution has been reduced as a direct result of facility participation in the TRI program, and now is not the time to turn back the clock" DNREC Air and Waste Management Director James D. Werner wrote in testimony submitted earlier to the EPA.

The original proposal, which had a 5,000 pound trigger, could have meant that public data would be lost for about 54,667 pounds of toxic chemicals, including some capable of causing cancer, respiratory diseases, reproductive problems and other disorders.

Under the revised change, the trigger was increased form 500 pounds to 2,000 pounds for most toxic chemicals. Compounds such as lead and mercury, which persist in the environment and accumulate in living tissues, would have to be reported at lower levels, but companies could manage or recycle up to 500 pounds a year without public disclosure.

Facilities in all three counties in Delaware would be affected, ranging in size from the Valero Delaware City Refinery and the state's power plants to the Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex plant north of Dover.

"The EPA has severely limited the public's right to know today," Tom Natan, research director for the National Environmental Trust, said in a written statement. "What communities don't know can hurt them. Critical possible threats will be hidden from view.
For complete coverage see The News Journal on Tuesday or www.delawareonline.com

Contact Jeff Montgomery at 678-4277 or jmontgomery@delawareonline.com

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