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New Safeguards Ordered for State, Local Toxic Waste Cleanup Workers

From the Washington Post

The Bush Administration on Tuesday ordered new protections for nearly 2 million state and local emergency workers involved in the cleanup of toxic wastes and other hazardous materials, dismissing objections that had led the Reagan Administration to delay issuing such orders.

The rules were announced by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but they will also be used by the Environmental Protection Agency to cover state and local workers not under OSHA’s jurisdiction.

OSHA said that “workers protected by the new rules include firefighters, police officers and ambulance and hazardous materials personnel who respond to hazardous waste spills; workers employed in cleanup operations at uncontrolled hazardous waste dump sites and those working at waste storage, treatment and disposal facilities licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Both OSHA and the EPA were required to come up with the national standards by the 1986 Superfund reauthorization act, but the Reagan Administration blocked the Labor Department from issuing a final standard last December.

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