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#26 - Next Three Months Is Critical Time For Citizens Fighting The Spread Of Hazardous Chemicals, 24-May-1987

The next three months is a very important time for citizens fighting
toxics. Title III of the federal SARA law (Superfund Amendments and
Reauthorization Act, or SARA) requires a series of decisions at the
state level between April and August, 1987. Title III is also known as
the Emergency Response and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986.
Decisions made during this period will affect citizens' ability to
fight toxics for the foreseeable future.

State emergency response commissions were to have been appointed April
17 by the governor of each state [Sec. 301(a) of SARA]. May 17 is the
date after which companies covered by the law are to notify the state
commission that they are covered by the law, and each company is to
give the commission a list of Extremely Hazardous Substances that the
company stores on-site, if the quantities of those chemicals exceed a
certain threshold amount established by law [SARA Sec. 302(c)]. The
list of Extremely Hazardous Chemicals and the threshold quantities
appeared in the FEDERAL REGISTER April 22 (Vol. 52, pgs. 1337713410),
as mandated by SARA Sec. 302(a)(2).

May 22 is the date after which companies must report (to the state
commission) releases of Extremely Hazardous Substances appearing on the
list [SARA Sec. 304].

By July 17, each state commission is supposed to create emergency
planning districts. By Aug. 17, each state commission is supposed to
set up local EMERGENCY PLANNING COMMITTEES and on that date companies
are required to begin reporting releases of Extremely Hazardous
Substances to those committees. These local committees can be very
influential in the way this law is enforced, and citizens should pay
close attention to the establishment of these committees. By September
17, companies must designate representatives who will be their official
contact for the local planning committee [SARA Sec. (303)(3)(c) and 303
(d)(1)]. By October 17, companies must provide the local committees
with copies of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) describing in detail
the hazards of the chemicals they handle [SARA Sec. 311(a) thru 311
(d)]. By March 1, 1988, companies must send in annual reports, stating
what quantities of which chemicals they purchase, manufacture or store
on their premises [SARA Sec. 312]. A wall of secrecy has, so far,
shielded companies from an angry public demanding an end to the use of
toxics. But that wall of secrecy is crumbling rapidly as this powerful
law clicks into place.

Exactly two years after enactment of SARA, by October 17, 1988, the
local planning committees must have completed local emergency response
plans [SARA Sec. 303(a)]. Since Congress provided no funds for any of
these activities, they will undoubtedly not occur on schedule. But
these local committees will have enormous influence in the kinds of
information the local committee can extract from companies.

--Peter Montague

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EPA CREATING NINE-STATE SYSTEM TO SHARE DATA ON ENFORCEMENT

The federal EPA will establish a nine-state information system to share
enforcement data on actions taken in nine western states under RCRA
(Resource Conservation and Recovery Act). The states are Arizona,
California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and
Washington.

EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has given a $200,000 grant
to the state of Arizona to establish an "information exchange system"
aimed at informing each state about current civil and criminal
litigation and administrative enforcement actions under RCRA. Citizens
may be able to influence the way the system is set up, to make sure the
information is useful and easily retrievable. For further information,
contact Estelle Bulka, Office of Waste Programs Enforcement (WH-527),
EPA, 401 M Street, SW, Washington, DC 20460; (202) 475-9324.

--Peter Montague

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COAST GUARD TALLIES POLLUTION EVENTS IN U.S. WATERS, 1983-1984

The U.S. Coast Guard recently released its report, POLLUTING INCIDENTS
IN AND AROUND U.S. WATERS: CALENDAR YEAR 1983 TO 1984 [COMDTINST
M16450.2G] covering a two-year period. The report will be available in
June for approximately $10 from National Technical Information Service
[NTIS], Springfield, VA 22161; phone (703) 487-4650. For further
information, contact U.S. Coast Guard Office Automation and Systems,
USCG (G-MP-5), Washington, DC 20953; phone (202) 267-0452.

--Peter Montague

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EPA ISSUES THREE LANDFILL LINER REPORTS, SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENTS

The federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has released three
documents on landfill liners. They are: BACKGROUND DOCUMENT ON BOTTOM
LINER PERFORMANCE IN DOUBLE-LINED LANDFILLS AND SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS
[EPA/530-SW-87-013]; DRAFT MINIMUM TECHNOLOGY GUIDANCE ON SINGLE LINER
SYSTEMS FOR LANDFILLS, SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS, AND WASTE PILES--DESIGN,
CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION [EPA/530-SW-85-013]; and DRAFT MINIMUM
TECHNOLOGY GUIDANCE ON DOUBLE-LINER SYSTEMS FOR LANDFILLS AND SURFACE
IMPOUNDMENTS--DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION, AND OPERATION [EPA/530-SW-85-014].

EPA is seeking comments on the draft documents. A limited number of the
documents are available from Kenneth Skahn, Office of Solid Waste (WH-
565E), EPA, 401 M St., S.W., Washington, DC 20460; phone (202) 382-
4654.

--Peter Montague

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Descriptor terms: superfund; sara; emergency response; hazardous
chemicals; industry; emergency preparedness; citizen groups;
enforcement; sara; emergency response and community right-to-know act
of 1986; superfund; rtk; epa; information services; enforcement; rcra;
az; ca; co; id; nv; nm; or; ut; wa; computerized information systems;
computers; epa; studies; landfill liners; landfilling; waste piles;
surface impoundments; lagoons; flexible membrane liners; clay; ponds;
studies; coast guard; pollution; water pollution; accidents; leaks;
spills; oceans;