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EPA's Withdrawal of Dioxin Guidelines Stumps Wildwood Officials

After U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's withdrawal of proposed interim Preliminary Remediation Goals for dioxin in soil, Wildwood representatives wonder what it means to settling local issues hovering over areas near the city's former Superfund site.

Question marks punctuated all attending Wildwood's city council meeting Monday after City Administrator Dan Dubruiel announced U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials had removed their interim guidelines for dioxin levels in soil from consideration of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Many Wildwood residents have studied EPA regulations regarding dioxin due to remaining questions about whether potential, residual dioxin contaminants from the city's former Superfund site since migrated through soil, air or water to surrounding neighborhoods.

See Tuesday article published in Eureka-Wildwood Patch:

Wildwood residents, staffers and city council members have been glued for months to results of the most recent rounds of EPA retesting of select areas that adjoin the former cleanup site. The in is considered one of the worst in U.S. history.

Chris Whitley, public affairs specialist for EPA's (Midwest) Region 7 in Kansas City, MO, told Eureka-Wildwood Patch on Tuesday it is important to note and understand the guidelines previously under review were "proposed, interim" ones—and were neither final goals or standards.

Whitley said all regulations go through a process before being adopted. The first phase is for EPA experts to propose interim guidelines. The next phase involves having preliminary remediation goals around which public reaction and comments can be gathered. The third phase moves into more firm goals from which final EPA standards are set.

This statement was issued by EPA headquarters at the time the interim Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs) were withdrawn, Whitley informed Patch:

"EPA has withdrawn from OMB review the draft document, “Guidance on Recommended Interim Preliminary Remediation Goals for Dioxin in Soil at Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Sites."  Issued for public comment by the Agency on December 31, 2009, the interim guidance is no longer necessary because EPA's recent release of a dioxin oral reference dose (RfD) in the Agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) will be used to inform our dioxin-contaminated site cleanup decisions."

On Feb. 17, EPA released the final non-cancer dioxin reassessment, publishing a non-cancer toxicity value, or reference dose (RfD), for dioxin in EPA's Integrated Risk Information System. The dioxin reference dose was for immediate use at Superfund sites to ensure protection of human health.

Monday evening, Dubruiel said EPA's withdrawal of corresponding final cancer risk reassessment guidelines under review for the past two years have left all wondering what long-term action EPA will take. He said the February non-cancer guidelines were more restrictive than previous ones.

Whitley said the "draft, interim language" for these dioxin guidelines were withdrawn at EPA headquarters on a national level, leaving Region 7 staffers "waiting along with everyone else."

"We understand the withdrawal might cause confusion and concern, and can pose suspense," he said. "But these guidelines were never a standard, so were not final anyway. Now they are off the table."

Dubruiel stated Monday that Wildwood's consultants indicated it appears EPA's Region 7 staff now will have more of a role in calculating site-specific samples for risk factors.

For direct access to EPA's documents about this matter, click here.

Florian Schach April 27, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Applying these new rules to NEW plants and not those currently existing is a very smart and important move by the EPA both for regulatory practices and businesses. Too many times in the past, new rules have been a crippling factor on factories or industry that cannot meet the new standards and thusly they are forced to either cut jobs or shut down, often without replacement for the labor that was just lost. (http://eng.am/wJ61AM) While it is great that we are taking the necessary precautions to close harmful plants and places of work it is easy to forget that we need a next steps plan. Regulations like these while they are of great aid to workers and businesses in terms of safety the thing they are safe from is also not having a job. Finding a balance between new regulations and what currently exists is what will be key in our economic progress throughout our recovery.

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