Thursday, January 17, 2008

Groups to EPA: drop that irresponsible idea of eliminating lead air standard

As I promised earlier this week, a broad coalition lead by NRDC and including Clean Air Watch and the American Lung Association has officially commented on EPA’s “advanced notice” about what to do about lead pollution in the air.

As we have noted on many occasions, EPA has floated a thoroughly irresponsible idea of eliminating the standard altogether. In fact, the science shows quite clearly that the existing standard needs to be made stricter.

The comments reiterate that the current standard should be made much tougher.

Given that exposure to lead can damage the brains of children, why is EPA even considering doing away with the standard? The usual reason, of course: special-interest polluters urged the agency to do this: (The Battery Council International is a trade group of smelters, lead battery makers, distributors, and suppliers: )

Is this an academic issue? Far from it.

Note story below from Associated Press this week from Missouri, where one smelting company is having trouble meeting the inadequate current standards. No wonder this group would like to abolish the standards altogether. (Side note: if the standards were abolished, the state would also probably take away the existing air pollution monitor, which is there because of current regulatory requirements. In fact, ALL the lead monitors would disappear, so we would never know if current problems get worse.)

Missouri moms, take note: do you really want to put your kids at risk?

ST. LOUIS, January 15 (AP) _ The Doe Run Company said it is making progress toward an April goal of meeting the federal standard for emissions from its lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri.

Doe Run said this week it met the national air quality standard for lead in the fourth quarter.
For the year, however, Doe Run was out of compliance two quarters for the air monitor closest to the smelter.
The company is taking steps to reduce emissions as part of a federally required plan with Missouri. Manager Gary Hughes said he expects Doe Run will meet those goals this year.
The plan was required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to achieve acceptable air quality in the eastern Missouri town.
Solutions include upgrades to Doe Run's baghouses and automated internal controls, the collection of air at various plant locations, and installation of improved air-filtering technology.
Plans also call for more efficient building enclosures, a redesigned concentrated ore receiving process and new high-efficiency street sweepers to sweep roads in the plant and on trucking haul routes within Herculaneum.
All measures must be in place by April with the goal of bringing Doe Run's smelter into attainment with the current lead standard, said John Rustige, environmental engineer with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Any high levels of emissions thereafter could result in penalties, DNR said.
The EPA currently is reviewing the federal standard for lead concentrations in the air. A new standard could force St. Louis and other major cities to make adjustments.
The EPA is under court order to complete its review of the federal standard by September.
The Herculaneum plant is the nation's only primary lead smelter, meaning it turns lead ore into lead metal. Secondary smelters recycle lead like that from batteries.
Nagging lead emission problems prompted Doe Run, beginning in 2002, to buy out more than 100 nearby residential properties.

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