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  Government Concentrates  
  October 18,  2004
Volume 82, Number 42
p. 34


Louisiana orders more chemical plant monitoring

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) has ordered 16 companies—mostly chemical plants and refineries—in the Baton Rouge area to install air pollution monitoring stations on the perimeter of their plants, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality reports. Six refineries and chemical manufacturers must also conduct comprehensive air emissions audits to quantify potential sources of ozone-causing pollutants, the state said. The efforts are due to the Baton Rouge area’s exceeding federal standards for ozone, which is formed by a reaction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides, and sunlight. The state believes the ozone exceedances result from small releases of highly reactive VOCs from these plants. The governor said she hopes the new monitoring efforts will lead to better control of air pollution in the area and help the state reach compliance with federal ozone standards, noting that ozone exceedances and the countermeasures called for are becoming an “economic and physical burden” on the area’s residents and businesses.

OSHA revises hexavalent chromium standards

OSHA is proposing new regulations that lower the permissible exposure limits for workers exposed to hexavalent chromium and its compounds in construction, shipyards, and general industry. The regulations lower the exposure level from 52 mg of Cr(VI) per m3 of air, averaged over eight hours, to 1 mg per m3 of air. It includes measures for employee protection and record keeping. According to OSHA, hexavalent chromium compounds are widely used in the chemical industry in pigments, metal plating, and chemical synthesis as ingredients and catalysts. Health problems associated with exposure to these compounds include lung cancer, asthma, nasal septum ulcerations, skin ulcerations, and contact dermatitis. OSHA Administrator John Henshaw said in a statement, “The proposed rule is both economically and technologically feasible, and will substantially reduce the risk to workers.” The full proposal is published in the Oct. 4 issue of the Federal Register, page 95305, and the agency will accept public comments until Jan. 3, 2005.

Zerhouni touts progress of NIH road map


In celebration of the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni held a news conference to discuss its progress. The cross-institute programs that make up the road map have been well received by those within the agency as well as those outside of it, Zerhouni noted. He expressed his excitement over how quickly the programs have come on-line and noted that interested researchers can still get involved in the various programs through new and reissued program announcements. “We know that today’s scientific landscape demands new ways of thinking, and we know we need to introduce a new paradigm for the conduct of medical research,” he said. “That’s what the road map is all about—creating a supportive environment for scientists and their ideas to come together in ways we’ve never seen before.” In its first year, funding for the road map’s projects was $139 million, and it is expected to grow to $238 million in fiscal 2005, with $2.2 billion projected to be spent over the initiative’s five-year lifetime.

Sharp drop in environmental lawsuits cited

A 75% decline in civil lawsuits filed by the federal government for violations of environmental laws was cited in a recent report by the former head of the EPA Office of Regulatory Enforcement. The examination by the Environmental Integrity Project used federal data and compared the first three years of the Bush Administration with the last three years of the Clinton Administration. It found 36 environmental lawsuits filed between January 2001 and January 2004 versus 152 filed in the preceding three years. For instance, looking at Clean Air Act litigation, nine lawsuits were filed in the past three years as compared with 61 in the three years prior to the current Administration. Eric Schaeffer, the report project director, accused the Administration of rewriting regulations and “putting the brakes on enforcement actions.” In response, an EPA spokeswoman says that enforcement is just one tool in its clean air strategy. The official also cites an “ongoing tension” among environmental professionals over the benefits of litigation versus using a market-based approach to clean up the environment. The official notes that the Administration’s proposed air regulations, which rely largely on pollution trading, are expected to result in large pollution reductions when implemented.


  • The Department of Justice reports that in fiscal 2004 it secured a record $4 billion in commitments from polluters to take corrective measures to improve the environment. Courts also imposed $181 million in civil penalties in environmental cases in 2004.
  • EPA has begun accepting nominations for the 2005 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Nominations end Dec. 31. Details are available on the Web at http://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry/wanted.html.
  • The final M55 rockets containing GB nerve agent have been sent to the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, in Alabama. The rockets were leaking and were sealed in special overpack containers for shipping. A total of 42,738 GB rockets have been shipped to the Anniston facility for destruction.
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2004

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