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Court Nixes EPA Incinerator Exemption

What's in a Name?

In order to evade its stringent rule that regulates emissions of toxic air pollutants from chemical plants, refineries, smelters, paper mills and other installations, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed simply to call the burning facilities "boilers" rather than "incinerators." Boilers operate under less stringent regulations.

A World of Difference

Boilers (and process heaters) typically burn only fossil fuels. Incinerators burn chemicals, industrial sludge, plastics, agricultural waste treated with pesticides, chemically treated wood wastes, and old tires. Emissions from these incinerators include mercury, lead, arsenic, dioxins, and other highly toxic pollutants.

Try Again

On June 8, a federal district court judge in Washington, DC, found the EPA's ploy illegal in a case brought by Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council on behalf of NRDC, the Sierra Club, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, and the Environmental Integrity Project. The decision will require the EPA to redo its boiler rules as well.