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Toxics

EPA Tightens Conflict-Of-Interest Rules After Concerns On Ground Zero Panel

EPA is tightening its scientific peer review policies to reduce potential conflicts of interest and bias among panelists following an investigation by its inspector general highlighting weak procedures for reviewing the formation of the agency's panel on EPA's Ground Zero risk assessment effort.

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BASEL CONVENTION RULES TOXIC VESSELS ARE SUBJECT TO TREATY LIMITS

International participants in a treaty that limits hazardous waste exports are proceeding with plans to regulate contaminated ships under the treaty, which environmentalists say will further discourage developing nations' plans to scrap the vessels abroad.

The move -- which occurred over U.S. objections -- comes as the U.S. government is struggling with its efforts to ship former naval vessels abroad for scrapping, which has been tied up in federal court for more than a year.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS QUESTION EPA STUDY ON STREAMLINING TRI REPORTING

An EPA analysis on streamlining reporting requirements on the use and release of lead and other persistent toxins is drawing criticism from environmentalists, who say the agency is relying on exaggerated industry estimates of reporting burdens that exclude previous burden reduction efforts.

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RESEARCH CHIEF RESIGNATION MARKS FIRST DEPARTURE IN EXPECTED EXODUS

EPA research chief Paul Gilman is the first of numerous political appointees expected to leave the agency following President Bush's reelection to a second term, after many of the appointees postponed their departures until after the election, agency and other sources say.

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RELEASE OF CALIFORNIA PERCHLORATE PLAN MAY HINDER INDUSTRY EFFORTS

The California health department's inadvertent posting of an internal draft drinking water standard for perchlorate could hinder industry efforts to weaken the the 6-parts-per-billion (ppb) level set in the draft rule, environmentalists and a state water agency source say.

The department's draft standard is weaker than the 1-ppb standard EPA has suggested but is still significantly stricter than levels around 200 ppb the Defense Department (DOD) and some industry officials favor.

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INDUSTRY GRIPES FAIL TO SLOW PROP. 65 PRIORITIZATION CHANGES

Despite a new round of criticism from industry organizations over proposed changes to the Proposition 65 chemical prioritization process, the health hazard assessment office plan was favorably reviewed this week by state scientific experts. The changes, which are expected to soon become effective, essentially intend to bring for listing consideration more hazardous chemicals with a higher incidence of exposure to Californians.

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DPR DELAYS PESTICIDE USE REPORT AS CRITICS ALLEGE INACCURACIES

Citing budget constraints and technical difficulties, the pesticides department says it will delay its annual pesticide use report summary, which is eagerly anticipated by a range of stakeholders each year. Meanwhile, environmentalists charged this week that information in the report is becoming increasingly less accurate. There is a growing discrepancy between the volume of pesticides sold in the state and the reported use of those chemicals, according to one environmental group, which is urging the department to take action to improve the accuracy of its use report.

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ACRYLAMIDE REG PLAN NOT EXPECTED IN 2004; CRITICS BLAME FOOD INDUSTRY

Health hazard assessment officials are unlikely to propose a safe exposure limit or warning label language for the food chemical acrylamide before the end of the year, officials indicated this week. Attorneys representing groups critical of the delay charge it is being driven by high-level Schwarzenegger Administration officials under pressure from a broad coalition of industry organizations and the federal government.

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Environmentalists Reject EPA Call To Limit Scope Of Suit On Lead Rules

Environmentalists have rebuffed a suggestion by EPA to limit the geographic scope of a lawsuit, which would require a comprehensive agency review of national lead emissions standards, to Missouri and several other states with metals smelters. The environmentalists say EPA needs to evaluate and strengthen safety standards for the toxic metal beyond those states directly affected by the smelters.

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EPA Likely To Exclude Health Benefits Of Mercury Rule From New Study

An EPA cost-benefit review of a rule regulating mercury emissions from utilities will likely exclude possible cardiovascular benefits associated with reducing exposure to the toxin and benefits from limiting mercury exposure from marine fish because the agency lacks adequate scientific data, EPA and other sources say.

One EPA economist says the agency's cost-benefit review will only quantify the benefits of reducing IQ losses in children born to mothers who ingest mercury-contaminated freshwater fish. This is the "one area where we can quantify" benefits, the source says.

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