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E-M:/ toxic spills and your right to know

Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>

Do you think those who spill toxic chemicals into drains, lakes or streams
should only have to report the spills if they exceed 5 tons?

Do you think those who store drums of hundreds of toxic chemicals should be
exempted from a requirement that they provide secondary containment to
capture materials before they reach surface water or groundwater?

Whatever you believe, your voice needs to be heard.  DEQ's Waste Management
is now taking comment on draft rules that would revise old and mostly
unenforced requirements regarding spill release prevention and reporting.
The so-called Part 5 rules have been the subject of numerous meetings among
DEQ, regulated industry and environmental groups over the last three years.
At a meeting last week, a large industry contingent argued against the
proposed rules and in favor of weaker requirements.  They want a "no
protection better than federal requirements" policy despite Michigan's
uniquely abundant, valuable and vulnerable water resources.

If you believe the DEQ and the public have a right to know about spills
less than 5 tons and that companies that use many hazardous materials
should be required to prevent spills to the maximum extent possible, you
should write the DEQ before an October 15 deadline and express your views.
Here are key points. At the end of the message appears a posting from the
August 30 DEQ calendar on the issue.

Jim Sygo, Chief
Waste Management Division
P.O. Box 30241
Lansing, MI  48909

Dear Mr. Sygo,

For more than 20 years Michigan has had rules requiring users of toxic
materials to prevent and report spills into Michigan's surface and
groundwaters. The rules were put in place after numerous spills which
killed fish, threatened drinking water safety, and degraded Michigan's
water resources.  These concerns still exist today.  These rules should be
strengthened and enforced as follows:

*  Requirements should apply to all hazardous substances as defined by
Michigan's environmental cleanup law (Part 201) whose storage and release
is not regulated by other programs.  It should also apply to all chemicals
introduced into commerce in the future that are toxic to aquatic or human
life, persistent, or bioaccumulative.  The DEQ's proposed list of 962
chemicals to be covered by the rules is a good first step, although it is
far short of the many thousands of chemicals in use that have the potential
to damage the environment.

*  Storage requirements to prevent spills, including secondary containment,
should apply to all quantities equal to or greater than one drum of
material when stored outdoors. Even small spills of toxic chemicals can
cause hugely expensive cleanups and pose unacceptable risks to drinking
water supplies or aquatic life.

*  Reporting should be required for all chemical spills in excess of a
pound during any 24-hour period unless the spill is detected and recovered
within 24 hours and no materials are released to the waters of the state.
Reporting should also be required no later than 24 hours after the spill is

I ask to be placed on your mailing list for further revisions of the rules
and I ask that you assure the final rules protect our valuable water



PROTECTION - PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD. In continuation of the Michigan
Department of
Environmental Quality's Phase II Regulatory Reform effort, a third
meeting of the Part 5 Rules Revision Stakeholders Workgroup is
scheduled in the John A. Hannah Building, Board of Education
Conference Room, 4th Floor, 608 West Allegan, Lansing, Michigan.
The purpose of this meeting is to discuss and seek consensus on draft
revisions to the Part 5 Rules. Copies of the draft revisions are
available upon request. Submit written comments on the draft rule
revisions no later than October 15, 1999, to Jim Sygo, Chief, Waste
Management Division, P.O. Box 30241, Lansing, Michigan
48909-7741. Information Contact: Phil Schrantz, Waste
Management Division, 517-780-7837 or E-mail at schrantp@state.mi.us.
Dave Dempsey
Policy Consultant
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
517-487-9541 (fax)

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