Last week’s end of the public comment period on the state’s proposed water quality rules included substantial comments from all levels of our community. This includes the federal Environmental Protection Agency, whose job it is to enforce the Clean Water Act (which the state water quality rules have to abide by).
So, what did the EPA think about the state’s effort to lower the cancer risk rate in the new rules? Not much:
Other elements of Ecology’s rule proposal, such as its revision to the state’s long-standing cancer risk level of 10-6 to 10-5, do not fully reflect the best available science, including local and regional information, as well as applicable EPA policies, guidance, and legal requirements. Specifically, a cancer risk level of 10-5 does not provide appropriate risk protection for all Washington citizens, including tribal members with treaty-protected treaty rights, when coupled with ash consumption rate of 175 grams per day or higher. By using a 10-5 cancer risk level, the state has substantially offset the environmental benefits of raising the fish consumption rate for carcinogenic human health criteria.
You can read the entire EPA letter to the state here.