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THE ENVIRONMENT: 1991 IN REVIEW

 THE ENVIRONMENT: 1991 IN REVIEW
 BOSTON, Dec. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The ending of the dumping of sludge


into Boston Harbor, the implementation of measures designed to reduce acid rain, and the initiation of pollution prevention programs by industry were the environmental highlights of 1991 in New England, according to officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
 "We have seen great environmental progress this year. But, a lot of work needs to be done in 1992 to further reduce automobile related pollution, to deal more effectively with the region's solid waste crisis, and to accelerate cleanup work at hazardous waste sites," said Julie Belaga, EPA regional administrator.
 Paul Keough, EPA deputy regional administrator, noted that "significant budget cuts and economic problems in all our states are the greatest issues posing an impact on environmental planning and management. The budget cutbacks may mean cutbacks in badly needed environmental restoration programs."
 Belaga noted that the elimination of 70 tons a day of sludge that had poured into Boston Harbor for more than three decades was a major step in restoring that waterway. "Boston Harbor will soon lose its title as the filthiest harbor in the country. We will continue to monitor the cleanup efforts and make sure that the ambitious construction program for the new treatment facilities at Deer Island are kept on schedule."
 She added that the implementation of the new Clean Air Act will benefit New England more than any other region of the country. "Most of the control programs under the acid rain regulations will be placed on mid-western power plants that send us their airborne pollutants. This crackdown will have a beneficial impact on our lakes, streams, and forests."
 In talking about pollution prevention initiatives. Belaga explained that many companies in New England have implemented programs to reduce pollution at the front end of their processes other than trying to clean the pollution up at the end of the pipe. "New England businesses and industries have taken the lead in developing new processes and have begun phasing out toxics from their discharges. We have seen energy and water conservation programs being aggressively implemented. The fact is that industry has learned that they can clean up their problems and save money at the same time, and they should be commended for their efforts," said Belaga.
 "Ground level ozone, or smog, continues to be the region's number one environmental health problem," said Paul Keough. "We have not reduced automobile-related pollution enough. Public health standards for these pollutants are being consistently violated, particularly during summer months. More needs to be done."
 He noted that the Clean Air Act required the establishment of a new commission representing states in the Northeast. "This group has begun to adopt regulations that will cover a wider geographic area than before. The successful implementation of programs such as new tailpipe standards, enhanced automobile inspection and maintenance programs, and the implementation of alternative fuels for automobiles (such as natural gas), will certainly help in this effort," he added.
 "There will be national as well as regional initiatives to accelerate cleanups at hazardous waste sites," said Belaga. "We have made progress in cleaning up our Superfund hazardous waste sites. But we have learned that this is a complex task that will take longer and cost more than we ever envisioned. We are developing new procedures to cut the cleanup timetables."
 Belaga explained that all of the states have began more aggressive recycling programs but further action is needed. "Our landfills are reaching capacity and new ones are not being developed. There has been public opposition to incinerators. We need to do more to reduce waste and also accelerate recycling at every level. We may need to look at increasing incinerator capacity, and developing state-of-the-art landfills as well. We need a mix of solutions to avert a real crisis in the next five years," she stated.
 Keough stated that increased enforcement, particularly criminal enforcement, will be high on EPA's agenda in 1992. "We continue to achieve record enforcement levels in our Region. Last year we had criminal fines totalling $5.6 million, a record for a single year. We have seen individuals being sentenced to jail for criminal environmental violations, and we expect that trend to continue. While most businesses and industry want to comply, we still have a few "bad actors" who willfully violate the law. We intend to deal firmly with these non-compliers," he concluded.
 -0- 12/31/91
 /CONTACT: Alice Kaufman, office of external affairs of the EPA, 617-565-4592 or 508-369-7140/ CO: Environmental Protection Agency ST: Massachusetts IN: SU:


DD -- NE007 -- 5929 12/31/91 15:23 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 31, 1991
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