EPA Says Washington Leads on Toxics Reduction

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency welcomed Washington's Department of Ecology (Ecology) into the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities (NPEP) on Oct. 27.

This voluntary program encourages public and private organizations to reduce the use or release of 31 priority toxic chemicals beyond what is required by environmental regulations.

Under Washington's Mercury Chemical Action Plan, Ecology has committed to reducing mercury from a statewide baseline by almost 300 pounds per year by 2010. The state agency will also be voluntarily eliminating lead wheel weights from agency fleet vehicles by 2009, preventing over 200 pounds of highly-toxic lead from being released into the environment.

"Joining EPA's NPEP program is consistent with the cutting-edge work Ecology is doing to protect public health and the environment," said Elin Miller, EPA regional administrator. "From being a leader on statewide chemical policies --like their Chemical Action Plans-- to developing a West Coast States collaborative on chemicals of concern and safer alternatives, Ecology is on the environmental forefront."

"Reducing toxics use in Washington State is critical to a cleaner environment and strong economy," said Darin Rice, program manager of Ecology's Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program. "Hundreds of Washington businesses have saved money and increased their competitive advantage through reducing their use of toxic chemicals."

The NPEP program's goal is to work with states and industry to reduce the use or release of the 31 priority chemicals by four million pounds by 2011. There are more than 180 NPEP enrollees nationally. Ecology is only the fourth state environmental agency to join the program.

For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/partnerships/npep/index.htm.

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