Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Assails EPA Rule Changes; the Proposal Would Raise the Threshold for Industrial Sites to Report Some Chemical Releases

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Assails EPA Rule Changes; the Proposal Would Raise the Threshold for Industrial Sites to Report Some Chemical Releases

Article excerpt

Byline: BRANDON LARRABEE

ATLANTA -- Georgians could lose access to detailed information about thousands of pounds of hazardous chemicals being pumped into the air, water and land, according to a report released Thursday by a statewide interest group.

The Georgia Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, said the changes proposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency would take some dangerous chemicals and even some industrial plants off the books when it comes to detailed public reporting. But the EPA said the group is simply fear mongering.

"This is another example of the Bush Administration and the federal government . . . rolling back environmental regulations and really stomping on the people's right to know," said Jill Johnson of PIRG.

Essentially, the EPA rule change would raise the point at which industrial sites have to report the level of certain chemicals being released into the environment to the Toxics Release Inventory from 500 pounds to 5,000 pounds. There are more than 680 chemicals on the list tracked by the agency.

Companies began reporting to the inventory, born out of concerns over a chemical disaster in India, in 1987. Sunday marks the 26th anniversary of that disaster.

Any plant releasing, transferring or disposing of between 500 and 5,000 pounds of the chemicals would simply have to report the name of the substances.

"The shorter 'Form A' merely lists the chemical released and does not include any of the specific amounts of the chemical that was released to the environment," according to the PIRG report.

The group also said the threshold on the more detailed reporting for some of the most dangerous chemicals, which have a lower trigger right now, would also be raised.

In all, Georgia would lose the detailed information entirely on 134 sites across the state. Nearly 190 ZIP codes would lose at least some information on the chemicals being released. The group used 2003 reports in coming up with the information.

King & Prince Seafood Corp., Allied Universal Corp. and a Georgia-Pacific treating facility would no longer have to report detailed information on their emissions from the Brunswick locations, according to the PIRG report. …

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