EPA's new rules tighten curbs on chemical plants' emissions

March 02, 1994|By Los Angeles Times Sun staff writer Timothy B. Wheeler contributed to this article.

WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration announced new environmental regulations yesterday designed to scrub 90 percent of chemical plants' toxic emissions from the nation's air.

The sweeping new regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency require chemical manufacturers to modernize and improve pollution-control efforts over the next three years. The rules also add 112 chemicals to the list of federally regulated hazardous materials.

The EPA estimates that the regulations will reduce acid rain and improve the respiratory health of many Americans by removing 506,000 tons of toxic chemicals from the atmosphere. That's equivalent to taking 38 million automobiles, one-fourth of the nation's total, off the road.

The EPA said new measures will cost the chemical industry $530 million a year, but EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner called the new rules "a landmark for public health."

The EPA's rules came after several years of negotiations among environmentalists, chemical manufacturers and federal regulators under two administrations.

Ms. Browner said that the Bush administration held up Clean Air Act regulations for more than a year.

Two South Baltimore factories, Vista Chemical Co. and FMC Corp., could be required to boost their leak detection efforts and to file more reports with the EPA, said David Mahler, environmental director for Vista.

But Maryland industries have greatly reduced their toxic pollution under 1988 state regulations, so the new federal rules are not expected to have much impact, said Merrilyn Zaw-Mon of the state Department of the Environment.

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