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EPA bans many toxins in Great Lakes
(CNN) -- The Great Lakes could be spared up to 70,000 pounds of toxic chemicals each year because of new regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The federal agency has banned the disposal of hazardous substances like dioxin, PCPs and pesticides through so-called "mixing zones."
Industries have for a long time released many pollutants in mixing zones along waterways, under the assumption that their dilution in surrounding waters justified less restrictive discharge limits.
Such discharges, however, actually accumulate in the ecosystem and can threaten the health of wildlife and people, the EPA said.
"The solution is not dilution," said EPA Administrator Carole Browner in a statement. The action, effective as of November 3, will "protect the health of millions of America families, it will guard the purity of their drinking water and it will help make safer the fish they eat."
The mixing zone prohibitions, issued last week, will reduce mercury discharges alone by up to 90 percent, the agency said. The new rules could be used to model national mixing zone standards in 2001.
About 300 industrial or municipal facilities discharge toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes or its tributaries that accumulate in wildlife, according to the EPA.
The new rules will phase out existing mixing zones over 10 years and prohibit new discharges. However, they will allow exceptions for some dischargers.
The Great Lake states of New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania will have 1.5 years to adopt the rules. The others, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, already forbid Great Lakes mixing zones.
State gets first Great Lakes plan approval
United States Environmental Protection Agency
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