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TEXAS WATER COMMISSION ADOPTS FINAL RULES FOR HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL IN SALT DOMES; NEW STANDARDS ESTABLISHED FOR SAFETY

TEXAS WATER COMMISSION ADOPTS FINAL RULES FOR HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL
 IN SALT DOMES; NEW STANDARDS ESTABLISHED FOR SAFETY
 SOUTHPORT, Conn., June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Hunter Environmental Services Inc. (NASDAQ: HESI), today announced that the Texas Water Commission (TWC) has adopted final rules for the permitting of hazardous waste disposal in salt domes.
 In a related action, the TWC hearings examiner has set a final date of June 29, 1992 for the commencement of evidentiary hearings on Hunter Industrial Facilities, Inc.'s (HIFI) permit for disposal of solidified hazardous waste in underground salt dome caverns in Liberty County, Texas. HIFI is a majority-owned subsidiary of HESI.
 The new rules adopted by the TWC comply with the legal requirements set out in Texas State Senate Bill 1099 that was signed into law in June 1991. The adoption of these rules concludes a 16 month delay in the permit hearings for HIFI's salt dome disposal project. The delay was initiated in February 1991, at the request of Governor Ann Richards to allow time for hazardous waste legislation to be adopted (Senate bill 1099).
 The most significant rule recently adopted by the TWC defines the injection zone within the salt dome and requires a demonstration that no migration will occur from that zone for a period of 15,000 years, 5,000 years beyond that required by the EPA. "This is a standard that HIFI can easily meet and sets a new standard of safety for the waste disposal industry that no other current form of waste disposal is required to match," Keith Price said.
 The new rules also require that the zone be at least 1/4 mile from the nearest source of drinking water and that the outer edge of the solution-mined cavern's walls be at least 500 feet inside the dome's outer perimeter.
 The adoption of these rules was recommended by an independent panel of experts convened last year by the TWC to study the salt dome cavern technology for use in the disposal of hazardous waste. The panel concluded that HIFI's technology may be superior to current practices for disposing of waste. As evidence of HIFI's superior technology, in a recent news release the TWC stated that salt stock has an impermeability 100,000 times greater than that of liners typically employed in landfill operations.
 "While these rules are more stringent than those that were in existence when we submitted our original permit application," Price said, "we are confident we can demonstrate that we meet or exceed these new standards. We are currently in the process of amending our permit application to address these rules."
 Price said that the existing regulations, along with these additional rules, will allow HIFI to prove that the process of disposing of solidified hazardous waste in salt dome caverns is the safest and most secure known method of hazardous waste disposal.
 "Now that we have the opportunity to present this technology, which we are convinced is clearly superior to other practices, we anticipate HIFI will be awarded a permit by the TWC by the end of January 1993, assuming the process follows the timetable issued by the hearings examiner," Price said.
 Price also noted that the discovery process related to the evidentiary portion of the hearings has been substantially concluded. "Two significant observations can be made from the discovery process," he said. "First, no new information has been disclosed by the opposition which would impact HIFI's ability to receive the permit. Second, the opposition has reduced its list of expert witnesses from 49 to 16, which should reduce the duration of the hearing."
 Since the adoption of these rules was two weeks behind schedule, the TWC hearings examiner has changed the date for the evidentiary portion of the public hearing from June 15, to June 29, 1992. The evidentiary portion of the hearing on this permit will now commence on June 29, 1992.
 At the request of the TWC, the hearings examiner had previously established an expedited timetable whereby the TWC commissioners would make a final decision on the HIFI permit by Dec. 10, 1992. New dates for hearing conclusion and decision have not been finalized; however, these may be altered to coincide with the new hearing date.
 Salt caverns, solution-mined in salt domes thousands of feet below the surface of the earth, have been used safely for decades for the storage of hydrocarbon and petrochemical products. There are approximately 1,800 such caverns in the United States today. Industry experts believe that the use of these caverns for the disposal of solidified hazardous waste is an even safer application of this technology.
 Hunter Environmental Services, Inc., is an environmental service company devoted to developing and providing environmentally safe solutions to the fundamental problems surrounding the disposal of hazardous waste.
 -0- 6/2/92
 /CONTACT: Dennis Oistacher of Hunter Environmental Services, 203-255-8777, or John Murphy of Hill and Knowlton, Inc., 713-961-3334, for Hunter Environmental Services/
 (HESI) CO: Hunter Environmental Services, Inc. ST: Connecticut IN: SU:


TQ-TS -- NY006 -- 6043 06/02/92 08:31 EDT
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Date:Jun 2, 1992
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