A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200 MARCH 1996

Pathetic Carole Browner

On March 8, 1996,
Carol Browner,
Administrator of the U.S. EPA,
signed the final rule to allow
importation of PCBs into the U.S.
from Mexico & Canada

“...The final PCB import rule will have
several positive economic impacts.
PCB waste management companies indicated
that the rule will boost their industry and
create jobs in the United States...”

Final Rule, Disposal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls; Import for Disposal, March 8, 1996.*

The history of the EPA’s regulations for the “safe” disposal of PCBs in the U.S. has left communities poisoned and suffering from a range of illness, suppressed immune systems, cancers and rare diseases. The EPA has never once apologized for the enormous human suffering and hideous impacts that their policies created. And now, Carol Browner, appointed by a so-called environmentally-concerned administration, is going to open the borders to an industry and to regulators that cannot be trusted. This is not the first favor Browner has given to the incinerator industry. Her early policy on municipal waste incinerators is allowing hazardous ash to be tested non-hazardous and sent to municipal waste landfills. (See Waste Not #s 315- 318.) We urge all readers who are concerned to write to Carol Browner. Here’s a few suggestions:

1. Demand that the EPA first clean up the mess that their past and current permitting policies for PCB disposal has created. PCBs are known endocrine disrupters, and EPA’s past and current regulations are harming our future generations. Citizens in communities like El Dorado, Arkansas, have yet to be compensated, or even considered for compensation, for the gross violations perpetrated on them by EPA’s regulations. This small community of 25,000 has 4 times the national average incidence rate for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and increases in other rare neurological disease as well as very high rates of brain tumors.

Adelene Harrison, the former regional director of EPA Region 6, who issued the permit for the El Dorado PCB incinerator in 1981, said in 1990:

“I would probably, today, with all of the things I see and know, should say those things (incinerators) should be far removed from any urban area...And it also should be removed from a rural area if it is a farming county or runs livestock...”

Arkansas Democrat, 12-16-90, 9-page special report titled:
“ENSCO: Pollution for Profit”

2. Without justice to the victims of EPA’s past policies, all consideration of importing more of these cancer-causing and endocrine disrupting toxics that have transgenerational impacts should be discontinued.

3. EPA must make all necessary financial restitution to people who lived or live in PCB poisoned communities, and that restitution should include paying for the health care costs for the victims of EPA’s inability to protect the public from its permitting policies.

4. Even though you might not have submitted comments during the official period, demand that Browner extend the comment period.

5. Demand that there will be no importation of PCBs into the U.S. for incineration (which is what is being planned). Alternative technologies must be used, and if the EPA doesn’t have enough alternatives to use, then the PCBs should be stored until the time comes when we can safely dismantle these hideous toxics.

6. Urge your groups to become involved. Contact Neil Carman about the litigation that is being considered against this import rule. (Neil Carman, Clean Air Program Director, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, PO Box 1931, Austin, TX 78767. Tel: 512-472-1767. Fax: 512-477--8526.)

Fact Sheet. Final Rule: Import of Polychlorinated Biphenyls for Disposal. Section 6 (e) (3) (A) (i) of TSCA bans the manufacture, including import, of PCBs. Section 6 (e) (1) allows EPA to regulate the disposal of PCBs, including those imported for disposal. For a 1-year period between May 31, 1979 and May 1, 1980, the Agency allowed the transboundary shipment (e.g., import and export) of PCB waste. On May 1, 1980, the border was closed; import for disposal of <50 ppm PCBs was subsequently authorized, but all other transboundary shipment of PCB waste was prohibited....This final rule, under Section 6 (e) (1) of TSCA, will amend the PCB regulations at 40 CFR Part 761 to add a new Subpart F, which will allow the import of PCB waste for disposal as long as certain conditions are met. This rule will allow the import of PCB waste for disposal at concentrations of 50 ppm or greater with prior notification to EPA. Importers must notify EPA 45 days in advance of the first shipment, identifying the parties involved, the waste stream, the source and movement of the waste, and disposal plans. The notice must include a certification of financial liability for the waste from the importer, and certification from all storers and disposers that their facilities are reserving at least 30% of their storage capacity for domestic wastes (this capacity provision is to sunset after 3 years). EPA is allowing importers to notify using existing forms at their discretion to reduce the paperwork burden. Importers must re-notify EPA annually, or before conducting activities that deviate from the notice. All TSCA regulations will apply to imported PCB waste; i.e., manifesting, packaging, storage, disposal, and record-keeping. PCB waste imports will also be subject to all applicable Federal and State requirements and international agreements...This rule will make the PCB import regulations more consistent with the regulation of hazardous waste imports under the Basel Convention and various other international agreements, as well as under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Imported PCB waste that fails to meet the exemption criteria of §261.8, exhibits a RCRA toxicity characteristic and meets the RCRA definition of a hazardous waste will have to be handled in compliance with all applicable RCRA regulations (as is the case with domestic PCB waste). EPA believes this rule will not increase the risk of injury to human health or the environment. This rule will benefit the United States by facilitating the safe removal of PCBs from areas near the U.S. borders, as well as the world environment in general. In addition, an economic benefit in the range of $50-100 million annually for the U.S. disposal industry will result.” According to EPA’s final rule: “EPA believes the amounts of PCBs available for import are small in comparison to domestic generation, and pose little threat of swamping domestic disposal capacity. For instance, a recent report estimates there are 172,722 metric tons of PCB materials in Canada. Mexico reportedly has 60,000 metric tons of PCB materials. EPA believes all of this waste is unlikely to be imported into the United States, particularly not within a single year. For comparison, 842,050 tons of domestic PCB waste were disposed of at U.S. commercial facilities in 1993. Paradoxically, allowing import of PCBs could even stabilize disposal prices for U.S. PCB waste generators in the future, by ensuring the U.S. PCB disposal facilities continue to have an economically viable market, and continue to remain in the PCB waste disposal business. Despite EPA confidence that import will not hinder United States generators from disposal facilities accepting imported PCB waste to certify that no more than 70% of their facilities’ approved and operating storage capacity is being used at any one time for imported PCB waste from all sources. This will ensure disposal firms handling imported waste cannot use all their resources for imported waste to the exclusion of domestic customers...”

* Disposal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls; Import for Disposal, 40 CFR Parts 9 and 761 [OPPTS-66009B; FRL-5354-8] RIN 2070-AC01. For further EPA information contact Susan Hazen at 202-554-1404.

Note to our Readers: Apologies for being so late in getting the newsletters out. We have been flat-out busy on the 3rd Citizens Conference on Dioxin. We will be out of the country for one month helping to fight incinerator proposals in India, Bangladesh and Italy. Thank you for your support and patience.

WASTE NOT # 360. A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US50; Overseas $70.

Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, New York 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.