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EPA PROPOSES TO SIGNIFICANTLY EXPAND THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT TOXIC CHEMICALS

Release Date: 12/30/98
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FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1998
EPA PROPOSES TO SIGNIFICANTLY EXPAND
THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT TOXIC CHEMICALS


Fulfilling Vice President Gore’s 1998 Earth Day commitment to expand the public’s right to know about toxic chemicals released into local communities, EPA has proposed to increase public reporting of such releases by almost 25 percent. The proposed rule for the first time would lead to more reporting of environmental releases of several persistent, bioaccumulative toxic chemicals (PBTs), including dioxin and mercury.
Persistent, bioaccumulative chemicals are those that do not break down quickly and remain in the environment for long periods. They bioaccumulate, or build up, in the food chain. The proposed rule would provide the public with important information on releases of a number of PBTs including dioxins, mercury, PCBs, aldrin and heptachlor and others that are known to cause a variety of health hazards at low doses, including reproductive disorders and cancer.

Vice President Al Gore said, “Strengthening communities’ right-to-know about toxic chemical releases to the environment is a top priority for this Administration. This new proposal will give the public more information about substances such as mercury and dioxin that are particularly worrisome because they persist so long in the environment. Armed with this data, citizens can make informed decision about how best to protect the health of their families.”

EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner said, “Putting information about toxic pollution into the hands of local citizens is one of the most effective tools for protecting public health and the environment. The Clinton Administration time and time again has aggressively expanded the public’s right to know. Our proposal today is another major step forward to ensure that people receive the best possible picture about pollution in their communities.”

Currently, facilities are not required to report their PBT releases to the air, water, and land unless they manufacture or process more than 25,000 pounds annually or use more than 10,000 pounds annually of the chemical. These high thresholds severely limit the reporting of PBTs. Under today’s proposal, the thresholds would be lowered to 100 pounds or 10 pounds, depending on the extent to which the chemical persists and bioaccumulates. The amount of information made available to the public would increase substantially as a result of this lowering of thresholds and the adding of new chemicals to the list.

A 60-day public comment period will begin upon publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register on or about Jan. 7, 1999. A copy also will be available at: www.epa.gov/fedrgstr or by calling 1-800-535-0202 at that time. Comments may be sent to OPPT (7101), U.S. EPA, 401 M St. S.W., Washington D.C. 20460. General information on the Toxics Release Inventory is available at www.epa.gov/opptintr/tri.

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