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THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2007
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Groups urge state to adopt pollutant rule

MOBILE (AP) — Enviromentalists have petitioned Alabama to adopt EPA measures widely used in protecting waterways from cancer-causing pollutants.

The Alabama Rivers Alliance and other environmental groups submitted three petitions Tuesday to the Environmental Management Council, which oversees the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

The petitions ask the state to adopt the EPA's more protective recommendations, already in use in all the Southeastern states except Alabama and Tennessee, the Press-Register reported in a story Wednesday.

Cancer risk

Many industries in Mobile County alone discharge the chemicals targeted by the proposed regulations and would likely be affected by more stringent pollution laws for 58 cancer-causing substances.

One petition asks state officials to revise the "cancer risk level" that ADEM uses in the formulas that calculate how much pollution industries are allowed to dump into Alabama's rivers.

A second petition asks the state to reduce the permitted levels of 14 toxic pollutants in water, including cyanide and toluene, because people are exposed to those pollutants in air and the food they eat, besides exposure from water, a phenomenon described as the "relative source contribution."

Existing policies

"The goal is to improve the regulations at ADEM and get them to comply with their own policies. We want them to meet the recommended standards that EPA has produced," said Adam Snyder, director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance.

ADEM officials said the department "looks forward to working with the Commission regarding the proposed rule." ADEM had no "specific comment" about the petitions.

Bringing Alabama's water quality laws in line with those of surrounding states — which modeled their regulations on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommendations designed to reduce cancer risks — would result in a 90 percent reduction in the maximum level for dozens of chemicals such as benzene, arsenic, DDT, dioxin and pentachlorophenol allowed in state waters, said the environmental groups.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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