Contact Us

Newsroom

1995 News Releases

 

PR EPA ANN. RULE SLASHING DIOXIN, LEAD, AND MERCURY AIR POLL.

Release Date: 11/01/95
Contact Information:

PR EPA ANN. RULE SLASHING DIOXIN, LEAD, AND MERCURY AIR POLL.

FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1995

EPA ANNOUNCES RULE SLASHING DIOXIN, LEAD, AND MERCURY AIR POLLUTION FROM INCINERATORS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced final air standards for municipal waste combustors that will
protect public health and the environment by slashing dioxin emissions by 99 percent and sharply reducing other
dangerous air pollutants like mercury, lead and acid gases. Emissions from these and other air pollutants from incinerators would be reduced by 145,000 tons a year.

"Today's action is one of the strongest health protection actions ever taken to protect Americans from dangerous emissions of dioxin, lead and other toxics," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "At the same time, our flexible, common-sense approach reflects the Clinton Administration's commitment to finding cleaner, cheaper and smarter ways to achieve environment goals."

Today's new rule will apply to about 130 existing municipal waste combustors and all new plants, strictly regulating air pollution from more than 99 percent of all municipal waste incinerator capacity in the United States.

In 1990, Americans produced nearly 196 million tons of municipal waste, or about 4.3 pounds per person per day (almost a ton of waste per person per year). Currently, 20 percent of all municipal waste is incinerated, 20 percent is recycled and 60 percent is landfilled.

Today's action toughens earlier municipal waste combustor standards set in 1991, by requiring more stringent pollution control equipment, increasing the number of pollutants regulated, and increasing the number of combustors to be regulated from those that burn 250 tons or more of trash a day to those that burn as little as 40 tons per day.

Most municipal waste combustors burn garbage to generate electricity for residential and commercial use; they do not burn hazardous waste. (EPA has regulated hazardous waste incinerators since 1980 under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.) Also, today's regulation does not apply to medical waste incinerators. EPA will issue a separate rule controlling dioxin and other pollutants from medical waste incinerators this spring.

The rule will cost new and existing incinerators nationwide about $488 million a year. In areas where incinerators are used for managing solid waste, this translates into an additional residential customer cost of about $2 per month per household.

Once EPA approves the state plans incorporating today's rule, existing

combustors have one to three years to comply, depending on their size and emission levels. New plants must comply immediately on startup of operations.

Today's announced action will appear soon in the Federal Register, but will be computer-accessible immediately through EPA's electronic bulletin board system, the Technology Transfer Network(TTN) at 919-541-5742 (backup number for access problems is 919-541-5384) under "Recently Signed Rules" (filename: "MWC2.ZIP") on the TTN's Clean Air Act Amendments bulletin board.

(For further technical information on the final rule, contact Walt Stevenson of EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at 919-541- 5264).

R-197# # #