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GLIN==> Carol Browner's announcement on Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxicants
- Subject: GLIN==> Carol Browner's announcement on Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxicants
- From: "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 14:10:31 -0400 (EDT)
- List-Name: GLIN-Announce
From: GROUP PRESS 202-260-4355 <PRESS@epamail.epa.gov>
To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: EPA ANNOUNCES SIGN. ACTIONS TO REDUCE TOXIC CHEM. IN G.LAKES.
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!/EPA ANN. SIGN. ACTIONS TO REDLUCE TOXIC CHEM. IN G. LAKES.../SCROLL
EMBARGOED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 24, 1999 6:30 P.M. EDT/5:30 P.M. CDT
EPA ANNOUNCES SIGNIFICANT ACTIONS
TO REDUCE TOXIC CHEMICALS IN GREAT LAKES BASIN
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
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
ÀÀ 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
ÀÀ EPA has instituted tough controls addressing the combustion of
medical, municipal, and hazardous waste; and
ÀÀ 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
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.)
Alex J. Sagady & Associates Email: email@example.com
Environmental Enforcement, Technical Review, Public Policy and
Communications on Air, Water and Waste Issues
and Community Environmental Protection
PO Box 39 East Lansing, MI 48826-0039
(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)
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