P.M. BRIEFING : Paper Firms Deny Dioxin Threat

From Times Wire Services

Paper companies today strongly disputed EPA findings that their mills are contaminating fish with hazardous dioxin at levels posing serious health risk to local fishermen who eat their catch.

Industry officials charged the Environmental Protection Agency relied on outdated information in assessing health risk from dioxin residues that are released into streams from mill bleaching processes used to make white paper products.

In particular, they said the agency relied on fish tissue samples taken in 1988 that did not reflect recent improvements in the bleaching process that the companies claim have greatly reduced dioxin discharges.

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