The Environmental Protection Agency will have to rewrite inadequate toxic air pollution standards for certain trash incinerators, thanks to a federal appeals court ruling passed on February 24, 2004. The ruling will impact about 90 garbage incinerators known as small municipal waste combustors (MWC), which have the capacity to burn between 35 and 250 tons of refuse each day. Collectively, these facilities emit significant levels of dangerous air toxins, such as mercury, lead, dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that EPA had failed to set the protective air pollution standards required by the Clean Air Act and as a result, ordered the agency to rewrite its regulations.
Jim Pew, attorney in the Earthjustice Washington DC office, brought the case on behalf of the Sierra Club and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).