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EPA Readies Draft Groundwater Cleanup Framework For Talks With States

EPA is drafting a framework that will provide regulators with a "systematic process" for evaluating progress made in operating costly groundwater cleanup remedies, a measure that states could use to replace ineffective technologies at waste sites or revise cleanup objectives at sites, an EPA source says.

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State Regulators Split On EPA Radiological Guide's Drinking Water Level

Members of a state waste regulators group are conflicted over EPA's suggestion to develop a short-term emergency drinking water level following a radiological emergency as part of a draft radiological protection guide, while industry is calling for less-stringent requirements in the guide and environmental groups are reiterating their opposition to EPA's proposal.

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Group Nears Completion Of 'Green' Remediation Standard

A private-sector standards-setting organization is expected to soon publish a voluntary standard that can be applied across a spectrum of contaminated waste sites to promote "greener" cleanups, following collaboration with EPA to develop the approach, sources say.

ASTM International Sept. 15 approved the standard through a consensus-based process, after overcoming a small number of objections to the standard earlier this year, sources say. The standard, which is expected to focus on "green" best management practices for site assessment and cleanup, is now under editorial review, an ASTM source says. Sources familiar with the effort would not comment on the substance of the objections, which appear to have delayed the document by a few months.

EPA requested the standard in 2008 as part of a larger effort on encouraging greener cleanups, including the development by EPA of principles for greener cleanups, which aim to consider all of the environmental effects of a cleanup, including the energy consumption and other impacts from remediation technologies. Greener cleanups attempt to use approaches that minimize the environmental footprint of a cleanup, EPA says in a 2009 fact sheet.

EPA defines the core elements of greener cleanups as: minimizing total energy use and maximizing use of renewable energy; minimizing air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions; minimizing water use and impacts to water resources; reducing, reusing and recycling material and waste; and protecting land and ecosystems, according to a June EPA fact sheet on the project.

Specifically, actions embracing these elements can include powering on-site cleanup equipment with on-site renewable energy, using machinery with advanced emission controls, employing best management practices for stormwater, segregating and reusing or recycling materials such as soil and construction-and-demolition debris, and minimizing soil and habitat disturbance, among other actions, according to slides presented by a state official at a state waste managers' meeting last April.

The June fact sheet says the agency anticipates the standard will increase the use of greener cleanup approaches by "[p]roviding clear definitions, methods, expectations, and goals for use by all stakeholders involved in a cleanup, making it easier for regulators and the regulated community to implement greener cleanups; [e]stablishing a framework to support new tools for evaluating impacts from cleanups; [and b]uilding upon state and local government incentives for greener cleanups."

According to an EPA website, the agency is identifying potential uses for the standard. One EPA regional source says the agency was involved in drafting the standard and is expected to make some type of statement on it, but does not know if EPA will adopt it.

The standard will be viewed as voluntary, and is expected to help a lot of cleanup programs with consistency, providing a larger list of best management practices, the source says. This could be applied at Superfund sites -- where it could be put into legal agreements -- at brownfields and Resource Conservation & Recovery Act sites, as well as applied at projects under the Great Lakes National Program Office, the source says.

In addition, states could adopt the standard in their voluntary cleanup programs, the source says.

At least one state -- Massachusetts -- plans to propose a green cleanup regulation in upcoming months, and the ASTM tool will fit well into that program, a state source says.

The slides presented at an Association of State & Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials' meeting last April list top barriers to conducting greener cleanups, including a lack of awareness of greener cleanup practices, the potential for higher upfront costs, the lack of authority or inclusion in existing regulations, and an inability to offer incentives.

The top incentives for conducting greener cleanups include the availability of loans and grants, publicity or recognition, and contract incentives, the slides say.

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Environmentalists Pressure Retailers In Bid To Boost Leverage In TSCA Talks

Environmentalists are increasing pressure on major retailers to further limit the sale of products containing toxic chemicals as a way to bolster their leverage over chemical and other manufacturing groups in ongoing Senate discussions over how to revise pending legislation reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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Industry Weighing Possible Push For Formal NRD Advisory Body

Members of a long-time, ad-hoc industry group are suggesting they are considering a push to create a formal advisory body representing both the public and private sectors to give guidance on natural resource damage (NRD) assessment and restoration processes.

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EPA Plan To Soften Groundwater Cleanup Policy Draws Mixed Reactions

Suggestions last month by EPA's Superfund chief that the agency is considering easing its long-standing policy that favors cleanup of contaminated groundwater to meet strict drinking water standards are receiving mixed reactions, with environmentalists rejecting the idea as short-sighted and troubling and industry sources welcoming it as realistic.

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Critics Weigh Options To Challenge EPA's Final Methanol Risk Estimates

Industry groups are weighing options for challenging EPA's recently released final estimate of the noncancer health risks posed by methanol, such as a Data Quality Act (DQA) suit or a challenge to any future regulation that relies on the assessment's risk values.

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Waxman Stakes Out Tough Stances On TSCA Issues Ahead Of House Bill

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, seems to be staking out some tough stances on what he would like to see in any bill reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) ahead of what appears to be an effort by House lawmakers to introduce a bill reforming the law.

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Industry Questions EPA Planning Of New TSCA Risk Assessment Program

Industry officials are reiterating their criticism of EPA's new risk assessment process for numerous industrial chemicals, arguing that EPA failed to properly plan the new program, its analyses are unfit bases for regulation and that peer review charge questions fail to follow Information Quality Act (IQA) guidelines.

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States Admonish DOE Over Insufficient Funds For Nuclear Waste Sites

Washington state and South Carolina officials are pressuring the Energy Department (DOE) to fully fund cleanup of DOE's nuclear waste sites, criticizing the department for proposing a budget that insufficiently funds the largest sites in the DOE complex and warning of impacts on cleanup milestones and the potential for significant fines under enforceable agreements.

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