U.S. Water News Online
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Alabama Department of
Environmental Management has proposed a more strict standard
for water pollution permits in a move aimed at reducing the
level of cancer-causing chemicals in the state's lakes and
The proposal would allow a cancer risk of 1 in 1 million
people, down from the current level of 1 in 100,000, for
almost all of the state's waterways.
The state Environmental Management Commission will vote
on the proposal after a period for public comment and a
hearing March 19 in the ADEM building in Montgomery.
David Ludder, a former ADEM lawyer who now represents
environmental activist groups, said some were surprised in
December when the commission announced it had begun the
process to set a tougher standard.
"I think it is unusual," Ludder told The Birmingham News.
"But I think they were faced with a situation where the
evidence clearly suggested that making this change would
reduce the risk of cancer."
He said no one produced much evidence that the change
would cause an economic burden on any group.
River advocates, environmentalists and health groups have
been asking the state to tighten water quality standards for
most of ADEM's 25-year history. The department usually
hasn't responded unless federal law or a court loss required
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows states to
choose between the 1 in 100,000 and 1 in 1 million standard.
The proposed rule would apply to all of the state's
waterways except those in such poor condition they aren't
suitable for fish and wildlife. There are fewer than 200
miles of such streams statewide.
The commission's proposed rule would apply to 57
carcinogens that Alabama plants put into rivers, creeks and
lakes. One cancer-causing chemical, arsenic, was left out,
but Alabama already has a tougher arsenic standard than most
states, the newspaper said.
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