EPA Rejects Ocean-Burning of Toxic Waste
The Environmental Protection Agency today rejected a request to burn toxic wastes off the Atlantic Coast, citing a wave of criticism from people fearful for their health.
“Our decision reflects the serious concerns expressed by many of the public commenters,” Assistant EPA Administrator Lawrence Jensen said.
The agency denied a permit requested by Chemical Waste Management of Oak Brook, Ill., to burn for 19 days 708,958 gallons of toxic liquid polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, at an ocean site 140 miles east of the Delaware Bay.
New Regulations Planned
Instead, the EPA said it will propose new regulations, possibly as early as this fall, outlining how it will handle future permit applications for at-sea incineration of toxic wastes.
The new regulations will not deal with specific incineration sites, which would be determined through subsequent permit application processes by individual companies, a spokesman said.
The overriding theme of the pleas conveyed by opponents of the plan, Jensen told a news conference, was that “we should not issue a permit for the transportation and incineration of hazardous waste at sea for any purpose until the agency more fully addresses the many policy, technical and legal issues related to ocean incineration generally.”
He said that too many unanswered questions were raised when the EPA held public hearings on the plan in Philadelphia; Wilmington, Del.; Ocean City, Md., and Red Bank, N.J.
The EPA’s decision was hailed by Reps. Barbara A. Mikulski and Roy Dyson, both Maryland Democrats, who had fought the ocean-burning plan.
Mikulski said Jensen told her that he would conduct further reviews of the proposal because of the public’s “perceived fears” of the plan. Beach communities have strongly opposed the plan.
“I consider it a great victory for the people’s right to know,” Mikulski said.