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Enviro-Newsbrief March 1, 1999


Enviro-Newsbrief
March 1, 1999

The following is a daily update summarizing news of interest to EPA staff. It includes information from current news sources: newspapers, newsletters, and other publications. For more information, contact the EPA Headquarters Information Resources Center at (202) 260-5922, or e-mail LIBRARY-HQ.

**Viewpoints expressed in the following summaries do not necessarily reflect EPA policy**

A searchable archive of past Enviro-Newsbriefs can be found on the EPA web site at the following URL: http://www.epa.gov/natlibra/hqirc/enb.htm

** OIL SPILL **

Ship's Oil-Filled Bow Is Pulled Seaward. Washington Post, February 28, 1999, pA20. Full text of the story available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-02/28/196l-02289 9-idx.html.

The bow portion of an oil cargo tanker that has been aground since February 4 and spilled thousands of gallons of oil, was slowly freed from the sand in Coos Bay off the Oregon coast on Saturday.

Rough seas actually helped salvage crews to break the New Carissa free of the sand for the trip toward a burial in the deep open waters of the Pacific.

A tug boat using 106 tons of pulling power on a 1,100 foot towline hooked to the 420-foot bow was finally successful in moving the wrecked vessel about 40 feet.

Salvagers must still drag the bow over two sandbars during an estimated two to three-day trip to waters 9,000 feet deep where it can be sunk.

Most of the fuel on the ship was burned off when Navy explosives experts blew open the fuel tanks and set a fire using napalm. The fire reduced the amount of fuel from about 330,000 down to 130,000 gallons in the bow section.

Considered free of oil, the stern section remains stuck in the sand where salvagers say they may leave it.

** SUPERFUND **

EPA's Five Year Review of Superfund Sites Needs Higher Priority. Daily Environment Report, March 1, 1999, pB1-6.

Despite being one of the most studied environmental programs, the superfund's five-year review has received little attention according to Joel S. Hirschhorn, Ph.D. Hirschhorn was a senior associate at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment for many years and helped draft the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act.

Government agencies have been critical of the superfund five- year review program. EPA's guidance to regional offices about the purpose of the program says "to determine whether: the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment; is functioning as designed; and necessary operation and maintenance is being performed."

Congress mandated the EPA to conduct five-year reviews in the 1986 amendments to the federal superfund statute. These amendments placed a priority on achieving permanent remedies based as much as possible on using treatment remedies that did not leave hazardous substances at sites. The five-year review was to act as a safeguard for remedies that were not permanent and left hazardous materials at the sites.

According to Hirschhorn's paper EPA has a large backlog of reviews. A total of 930 reviews is required to be completed by fiscal year 2000 and of that about 11 percent have been examined. He criticizes EPA's five-year program as "far from a success and a very low EPA priority." Hirschhorn also notes that "there was no reform aimed at improving the five-year review effort." He calls upon Congress to address the review program when it considers superfund reauthorization.

** CHEMICAL POLLUTANTS **

EPA Grants 30-Day Extension for Comments Adding Chemicals to TRI. Daily Environment Report, March 1, 1999, pA1.

Companies that would be required to file annual reports on certain chemicals to the Toxic Release Inventory have been given a 30-day extension for comments, according to a notice that is to appear in today's Federal Register. The deadline has been extended until April 7, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA proposed rule change on TRI reporting first appeared on January 5 (64 FR 687).

Among those affected by the changes are the petroleum refineries, electric utilities, pesticide manufacturers, and hazardous waste incinerators.

EPA's "preferred option" would require reports when companies "make" or use 10 pounds or 100 pounds of certain PBT chemicals.

An EPA analysis of its proposal estimates that it will require 9,500 facilities to file 17,000 additional reports at a first year cost of $126 million. In later years the annual costs would be $70 million, according to EPA.

The agency estimated that it will cost them an additional $1 million a year in increased administrative costs.

EPA feels that the benefit of increased reporting will provide it and the public with "improved knowledge about the release and waste management of toxic chemicals."

Written comments on the proposal should refer to docket number OPPTS-400132 and must be sent by April 7 to the TSCA Nonconfidential Information Center, Room B-607, EPA, 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460.

**For additional information contact EPA's Daniel Bushman, petitions coordinator, at (202)-260-3882 or the EPCRA Hotline at (800)-535-0202. In Virginia and Alaska, call (703) 412-9877.**

** CHEMICALS **

Beatle to Gore: Stop Chemical Testing on Animals. Lycos Environmental News Service, March 1, 1999. Full text of story available at: http://ens.lycos.com/ens/feb99/1999L-02-26-09.html

Former Beatle singer Paul McCartney, spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), took time out of his busy schedule to write a letter to Vice President Albert Gore asking him to save the lives of millions of animals who will die in chemical tests. McCartney ask Mr. Gore "With all due respect, do you really need to kill rabbits, ducks, fish, and guinea pigs to make sure turpentine and rat poison are unsafe?"

** RESEARCH DATA **

Scientists Challenge Provision Opening Access to Data. Wall Street Journal, March 1, 1999, pA24.

Scientists are crying foul over a provision inserted in last year's budget by Senator Richard Shelby. The Alabama Republican's provision knocks down privacy laws and gives the public never before held access to research data developed with federal funds at universities, hospitals and other nonprofit organizations.

Over concerns that the provision goes too far the White House Office of Management and Budget is trying to narrow its scope. But scientists want the measure repealed. That is unlikely since one of the measure's backers is Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican.

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