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Water

GREAT LAKES STATES SAY COAST GUARD BALLAST APPROACH INEFFECTIVE

Several Great Lakes states are blasting the Coast Guard's efforts to limit the spread of invasive species via certain ships transiting the Great Lakes, saying the agency is continuing to neglect its legal obligation to develop binding regulations.

Coast Guard officials earlier this month requested public comments on how it should develop ballast water management strategies that would prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species carried in empty ballast water tanks, according to a Jan. 7 Federal Register notice.

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SETTLEMENT DELAYS, MAY END, MILESTONE SUIT OVER INVASIVE SPECIES TMDLs

Environmentalists and EPA have reached a deal that will delay, and possibly call off, landmark litigation over whether aquatic invasive species constitute pollutants under the Clean Water Act (CWA) -- and whether EPA and states must set total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for waters impaired by invasive species.

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EPA REBUFFS STATE PUSH FOR CONSISTENT FISH-CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES

EPA and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) are rejecting several states' efforts to harmonize state and federal fish-consumption advisories in order to avoid confusing a population already afraid to eat fish due to mercury contamination, which is largely caused by air pollution.

The federal government's stance is drawing criticism from environmentalists, who say it undermines the goal of the EPA and FDA last year in issuing a single, coherent message on fish consumption.

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EPA STAFF SUGGEST INDEPENDENT PANEL REVIEW OF ARSENIC RISK VALUE

An EPA task force re-evaluating arsenic's cancer-causing potential will recommend that an outside scientific panel evaluate whether new studies revealing less arsenic toxicity warrant weakening the agency's risk assessment for the metal, EPA and industry sources say.

The new evaluation could have major implications for drinking water treatment and waste remediation because the agency and state regulators use EPA's risk value to set drinking water standards and cleanup levels at hazardous waste sites.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS SEEK NAS CLARIFICATION ON PERCHLORATE STUDY

Environmentalists are asking the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for a public statement clarifying that its recent perchlorate risk report was mischaracterized by mainstream media reports that said proposed regulatory standards for the pollutant should be relaxed.

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NAS PERCHLORATE STUDY MAY NOT FORCE WEAKER EPA STANDARDS

Despite finding that EPA's risk estimate for perchlorate is overly strict, the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) long-awaited report on the chemical may not force EPA to weaken its cleanup standard because the agency must still consider key policy questions that the NAS did not address.

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PERCHLORATE STUDY UNLIKELY TO SOON SETTLE EPA-DOD CLEANUP FIGHT

The National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) recent study criticizing EPA's risk estimate for perchlorate is unlikely to quickly resolve the long-running dispute between the agency and the Defense Department (DOD) over cleaning up the ubiquitous contaminant.

While the study criticized EPA's risk estimate for perchlorate as overly strict, the panel left it to the agency to translate the risk estimate into a drinking water standard, which regulators use as a cleanup level.

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POTWs SEEK SANITARY SEWER POLICY TO CURTAIL COSTLY EPA ENFORCEMENT SUITS

Wastewater treatment officials have sent a sewer overflow action plan to EPA that urges the agency to develop a national sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) policy, arguing that the agency's current enforcement policies requiring zero discharges have publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) spending large amounts of money with little return.

The call for a national policy comes in the wake of failed Clinton administration efforts to promulgate a regulation governing SSOs.

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EPA SEPTIC SYSTEM PACT LACKS NEW AGENCY RESOURCES, KEY STATE SUPPORT

EPA's recently signed agreement with stakeholders intended to curtail water pollution from septic systems will not receive any new agency funds to implement its goals and does not have backing from state officials who oversee septic management programs.

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EPA REGIONAL CONCERNS LIKELY TO DELAY AGENCY BLENDING GUIDANCE

EPA regional staff concerns over key provisions in the agency's draft blending guidance -- which establishes conditions when wastewater treatment plants can blend and release treated and partially treated wastewater during heavy rains -- could delay the policy indefinitely, EPA sources say.

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