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Lawsuit Takes EPA to Task Over Toxic Boiler Emissions

Published by MAC on 2004-11-15

Lawsuit Takes EPA to Task Over Toxic Boiler Emissions

Environmental News Service (ENS)

November 15, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC - The Bush administration has issued standards for air emissions from tens of thousands of industrial boilers that are "irresponsibly weak" environmental groups charged Friday in a lawsuit filed in U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Integrity Project, represented by the non-profit environmental law firm Earthjustice, filed the suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Three plaintiff groups allege that the administration's rule, finalized in September, violates the Clean Air Act and fails to protect the public from deadly pollutants emitted by an estimated 58,000 industrial boilers across the nation.

The covered boilers burn an array of wastes that can include chemically treated wood waste, used oil waste, solvents, old tires, sewage gas, paint sludge, toxic fly ash, wastewater treatment sludge, and paper mill sludge.

"The Bush EPA is allowing thousands of facilities across the country to burn industrial waste without adequate controls," said Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew. "The waste is burned in so-called 'boilers' and 'process heaters' that emit tons of highly toxic pollution into communities, homes and schools."

The plaintiffs charge that the EPA has approved "no control" standards, which require no emission reductions at all, for benzene, a known human carcinogen, mercury, a toxic metal linked to birth defects and developmental damage in children, and other toxics.

The rule allows boilers to not clean up emissions of toxics such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and lead, all probable human carcinogens.

EPA has never claimed that boilers' emissions of these substances is safe. "The Bush administration is far more interested in protecting the pocketbooks of its industry sponsors than the health of families and communities exposed to these dangerous toxins," said Jane Williams, chair of Sierra Club's Toxics Committee.

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