Enviros Say Pollution Guidelines Are Overdue

WASHINGTON (CN) – Environmentalists claim in court that states are still waiting on federal guidelines to comply with new standards on solid-waste incinerators.

Referred to in the complaint as commercial industrial solid-waste incineration units and other solid waste incineration units, the Sierra Club says the incinerators emit hundreds of tons of particulate pollutants ever year that can cause cancer and other health problems.

Filing suit on Dec. 16, the nonprofit notes that the failure by some states to comply with federal standards means that these units are unregulated in those cases.

“Although the vast majority of states never submitted an approvable SIP or negative declaration, there has never been a federal implementation plan promulgated,” the Sierra Club claim, abbreviating state implementation plan.

“This inaction means that many OSWI [other solid waste incineration units] are still operating without any regulation,” the complaint continues.

The Sierra Club notes that the Environmental Protection Agency enacted the new standards in 2005 and again in 2011 in an effort to cut down on harmful pollutants, such as mercury and lead, that two categories of solid-waste incinerators can send into the air.

Under federal rules, states had one year to submit an acceptable plan to bring any solid-waste incinerators under compliance with the new standards or they would be forced to adopt an overarching federal plans the EPA crafted.

The EPA was required under the Clean Air Act to have a federal plan for commercial solid-waste incinerators done by March 2013, and another for all other types of incinerators by December 2007.

Both deadlines passed long ago, the Sierra Club says, filing suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The Sierra Club says a Dec. 16, 2010, deadline also passed for the EPA to revise federal its standards on some types of solid-waste incinerators.

By failing to review and revise standards for some types of incinerators, the EPA moreover has left in place regulations that are more than a decade old, the 22-page complaint says.

The Sierra Club names EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy as the defendant in the complaint and asks for a court order forcing the agency to put together federal implementation plans for both types of solid waste incinerators.

A representative for the EPA has not returned a request for comment.