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EPA Home > Region 5 > Air > Correspondence


May 23, 1996

Mr. Keith Harley
Attorney at Law
Chicago Legal Clinic, Inc.
2938 East 91st Street
Chicago, Illinois    60617

RE:  Agency Response to Toxic Substances Control Act Section 21

Dear Mr. Harley:

        I am writing this letter in response to the petition you submitted
on behalf of the Chicago Legal Clinic and eleven community advocacy
groups on February 23, 1996, under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances
Control Act (TSCA).  The petition requested that the Agency issue a
rule under Section 6 of TSCA regulating the disposal of dioxins,
furans, mercury, cadmium, and lead through air deposition from eight
incinerators slated to begin operating (or in one case, already
operating) in Cook County, Illinois and Lake County, Indiana.  The
petition alternatively requested the issuance of a TSCA Section 4 rule
that would require the collection of data on cumulative effects,
focusing on those risks posed by dioxins, furans, mercury, cadmium,
and lead.

        Under Section 21 of TSCA, the Agency has 90 days from receipt of
the petition to prepare and issue a response to the petitioner.   EPA
has spent the past 90 days working to collect information on the
incinerators and formulate the appropriate response.  We have also
taken advantage of the opportunity to discuss the issues with you and
some of the Petitioners, both in person and over the phone.

        After review of the information we were able to assemble in the
limited time frame, EPA has concluded that insufficient information
exists to adequately support initiation of Section 6 activity.  EPA
has further concluded that given the operational status of the
incinerators targeted in your petition, Section 4 activity requiring
testing does not appear to be an appropriate course of action at this
       However, the Agency believes that several issues raised during our
investigation merit additional attention; specifically, the issues of
cumulative effects, loading, and risk from the incinerators and other
point, area, and mobile sources.  We invite you and the Petitioners to
work with us as we mobilize the various media offices of EPA to
investigate the multimedia impacts of toxics in metropolitan Chicago.
EPA will form a working group to collect data, marshal resources, and
plan activities (i.e., communication and risk reduction dialogues,
working to qualify and quantify hazard and effects data relevant to

the affected communities) necessary to address, to the fullest
practical extent, the concerns raised by your clients.

        EPA is fully committed to community-based projects.  This means
that the Agency believes in working with regulators, the regulated,
and the affected community in order to best plan and implement
projects designed to effect environmental change.  Therefore, EPA will
form a working group that will, upon its formation, seek input from
the community advocacy groups listed in the petition and other
relevant parties.  To begin this operation, EPA staff from Region 5
and the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics would meet with you
and your clients (sometime over the next two months) to discuss
details of the process and next steps.  This initial meeting (and the
ones with the Petitioners to follow) would serve as a basis for the
planning and implementation of the various phases of this effort.  The
Agency believes that only through this scoping exercise, can it design
a program that progresses beyond the work that has already been done,
and that adds significantly to our assessment and characterization of

cumulative risk.  It is my hope that you and the other petitioners
will assist EPA in this scoping activity so that the program is
informed by the knowledge of community members most affected by air

        As a final matter, the Agency acknowledges that because it has not
granted the relief requested in the petition within the statutory time
frame, you may challenge the Agency's decision not to initiate
rulemaking under either section 4 or 6 of TSCA in Federal District
Court.  It is our hope, however, that you and the Petitioners will
choose to work with the Agency in developing the aforementioned

        If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact
Dr. William H. Sanders, Director of the Office of Pollution Prevention
and Toxics, at (202) 260-3810.


Lynn R. Goldman, M.D.
Assistant Administrator

cc:     William Sanders
       Joseph Carra
       John Melone

For further information, contact:
This Information Last Modified On: 09/18/2008 03:58 PM