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E-M:/ Carol Browner's announcement on Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxicants

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

From: GROUP PRESS 202-260-4355 <PRESS@epamail.epa.gov>
To: Multiple recipients of list <epa-press@valley.rtpnc.epa.gov>
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X-Comment: U.S. EPA Press Releases



     To protect public health and help restore the Great Lakes, U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol M. Browner today 
proposed to significantly reduce direct discharges of the most toxic 
chemicals into the Great Lakes.  The chemicals, referred to as 
"bioaccumulative chemicals of concern" (BCCs), include mercury, 
polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, dioxin, chlordane, DDT and mirex. 
     "Today's announcement is vitally important to protect the health 
of Great Lakes residents.  The risks posed to human health and to the 
Great Lakes themselves by these toxic pollutants are simply too high 
to ignore," said Browner.  "We need to take more aggressive steps to 
protect our children, ourselves, and our environment from these 
harmful chemicals." 
     Specifically, Browner proposed to phase-out the discharges of 
BCCs into "mixing zones" - areas of the Lakes where discharges of 
toxic chemicals are allowed to mix with receiving waters and dilute.  
Today's proposal would prohibit new discharges of BCCs into mixing 
zones in the Great Lakes Basin and would phase out the use of existing 
mixing zones for BCCs in the Great Lakes Basin over 10 years.    

     Governors in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have 
already eliminated mixing zones for BCCs in the Great Lakes Basin.  
Today's announcement will ensure that mixing zones for BCCs in the 
Great Lakes Basin are also prohibited in the states of Illinois, New 
York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  It is anticipated that the proposal 
would reduce mercury from direct water discharges, like outfall pipes, 
into the Great Lakes by up to 90 percent.

     Speaking today before the International Joint Commission in 
Milwaukee, Browner also announced that she is directing EPA staff to 
work closely with state and local government, industry, environmental 
and public health groups, and other partners to review the use of 
mixing zones for bioaccumulative toxic chemicals to determine if they 
should be phased out nationwide.  And she challenged governors across 
the country to follow the lead of the Great Lakes states  in the 
meantime, by phasing out mixing zones for these harmful pollutants in 
all of America's waters. 

     "The Great Lakes are a shared natural treasure," said Browner.  
"Our efforts to protect the Great Lakes can serve as a model for 
protecting all of America's water ways.  That's why today I'm 
challenging governors from every state to consider taking the same 
steps that we are taking to protect and restore the Great Lakes ."    

     Noting that the vast majority of mercury pollution in the Great 
Lakes comes from air pollution, Browner added, "One of the greatest 
threats to the Great Lakes comes not just from poisons pumped directly 
into the waters - but what falls from the sky.  We are pursuing 
aggressive steps to reduce mercury emissions to the air."

     EPA actions to address reducing mercury emissions to the air 

 EPA completed a study of toxic emissions from coal-fired, 
     electric power plants, which account for approximately one-third 
     of all mercury air emissions.  However, Congress required EPA to 
     delay its finding as to whether it is necessary to control 
     emissions from these plants until another study is completed by 
     the National Academy of Sciences next summer.  EPA fully plans to 
     decide whether or not to control these emissions by no later than 
     December 2000; 	 

 EPA has instituted tough controls addressing the combustion of 
     medical, municipal, and hazardous waste; and

 Beginning next year, power plants will have to report mercury 
     emissions to EPA's Toxic Release Inventory, a part of this 
     Administration's aggressive community "right-to-know" program.  
     These data will be available to the public on the Internet. 

            In addition, Vice President Al Gore yesterday called for a 
moratorium on the export of Great Lakes water in order to enhance 
protection of the Great Lakes Basin and its economy.  The Vice 
President endorsed bipartisan legislation introduced by Representative 
Bart Stupak (D-MI) that would place a moratorium on bulk diversion of 
Great Lakes water.

             A moratorium was recommended in early August by the 
International Joint Commission, which was established in 1909 to 
assist the United States and Canada in decisions regarding shared 
waterways.  In a report entitled "The Waters of the Great Lakes" the 
Commission urges that U.S. and Canadian federal, state, and local 
governments not allow bulk removal of Great Lakes surface or ground 
water until further study.

     Despite their great depth and size, the Great Lakes are 
particularly vulnerable to toxic pollutants, because the pollutants 
remain in the lakes for many years.  Even in small amounts, they 
become more concentrated as they move through the food chain, from 
plants to fish and animals to humans.  For humans and many species of 
wildlife, the main route of exposure to BCCs is fish consumption.  By 
building up in the tissues of fish, BCCs can reach unhealthy levels, 
making fish unsafe to eat.  There are advisories on eating fish in all 
of the Great Lakes states.     

     In l995, EPA and the Great Lakes states agreed to a comprehensive 
plan to restore the health of the Great Lakes.  The Final Water 
Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System - also known as the Great 
Lakes Initiative -  includes criteria for states when setting water 
quality standards for 29 pollutants, including BCCs.  The l995 
Guidance prohibited the use of mixing zones for BCCs.  The entire 
plan, including the mixing zone prohibition for BCCs was challenged in 
federal court by the iron and steel industry.  

     In June l997, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of 
Columbia upheld the majority of the provisions in the Guidance, but 
vacated the BCC mixing zone prohibition and remanded the provision to 
EPA for further consideration.  Today's proposal would reinstate that 
provision for environmental and public health reasons, based on 
continuing evidence that the highly bioaccumulative nature of BCCs 
presents a significant potential risk to human health, aquatic life 
and wildlife.  Therefore the benefits of the mixing zone phase-out 
outweigh costs.  
     Because of the flexibility of the 1995 Guidance, all of the Great 
Lakes states have crafted unique cleanup and implementation procedures 
which have been submitted to EPA for approval.  EPA has now completed 
its final review of the submissions made by five of the states 
(Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) and a 
preliminary review of the remaining three (Illinois, New York, and 
Wisconsin).  EPA is on schedule to complete its final review of the 
remaining three plans by the end of the year.

     EPA will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days.  An 
original and 4 copies of all comments on the proposal should be 
addressed to Mary Willis Jackson, Water Quality Branch (WT-15J), U.S. 
EPA Region 5, 77 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago, Ill., 60604.  For 
further information on the rule, contact Mark L. Morris at 202-
260-0312, or visit EPA's Web site at:  http://www.epa.gov/ost.	 

     (To obtain an embargoed copy of Browner's remarks as prepared for 
delivery, call 202-260-9828.)

R-114          	                        ###

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  ajs@sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Technical Review, Public Policy and
Communications on Air, Water and Waste Issues
and Community Environmental Protection

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