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For Immediate Release
January 13, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN BACKS PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT TOXIC CHEMICALS

Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran joined other state Attorneys General today calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw proposed regulations that would sharply reduce the amount of information available to the public about toxic chemicals released by industry in communities across the nation. The Attorneys General submitted detailed written comments challenging the legality of proposed EPA regulations that would scale back the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).
" The Toxics Release Inventory puts chemical release information in the hands of the public and allows communities to engage in an educated dialogue with their industrial neighbors, and this kind of communication is beneficial to us all," said Curran.

After the 1984 deadly release of toxic chemicals at the Union Carbide facility in Bhopal, India, Congress responded by establishing the Toxics Release Inventory. TRI is a federal computerized database that provides information on the type and quantity of toxic chemicals released into the air, water and soil. The bill was signed into law by President Reagan and data has been collected and made available to the public since 1987. Industrial facilities are required to report information to the EPA annually, which is then compiled into a public report.

Disclosure of public information about toxic releases has prompted significant reductions in the release of toxic chemicals across the nation. For example: the Boeing Company reduced its toxic chemical releases by more than 82 percent since 1991; Monsanto reduced its toxic air emissions by more than 90 percent between 1988 and 1992. The Eastman Chemical Company of Tennessee has reduced its releases of TRI chemicals by 83 percent since 1988.

EPA is proposing changes that would significantly weaken the TRI in the following ways:

• Raising the baseline reporting threshold for chemical releases from the current 500 pounds to 5,000 pounds.

• Reducing the reporting for some of the most dangerous toxic chemicals - - those that are persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic - - a category that includes lead, mercury and PCBs.

• Considering cutting the requirement to report toxic chemical releases from once a year to once every two years.

The Attorneys General believe that such changes would significantly reduce the amount of toxic chemical release information available to the public. Densely populated neighborhoods are especially at risk. A community in western New York, Tonawanda, is a striking example of the possible effects of these changes. In one Tonawanda neighborhood with 45,000 people, environmental releases of 8,100 pounds of neurotoxic chemicals, 3,100 pounds of chemicals that may cause respiratory problems, 2,300 pounds of chemicals that cause developmental problems and 650 pounds of chemicals that may cause blood disorders could go unreported under the proposed weaker EPA regulation.


Other participating Attorneys General:

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
Iowa Attorney General Thomas J. Miller
Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly
New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte
New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey
New Mexico Attorney General Patricia A. Madrid
Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell
Wisconsin Attorney General Peggy A. Lautenschlager


   

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