Responding to strong protests from environmental and some industry groups, the Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday it will hold hearings next week to reconsider its decision to lift a ban on the disposal of liquids in landfills.
The EPA staff plans to present a recommendation to Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch within a week of next Thursday's hearing.
Last week, EPA lifted the ban on disposing containerized liquids in landfills for 90 days. The agency said the ban was too burdensome on generators of hazardous waste and on disposal facilities. The agency also said it planned to produce new regulations allowing 25 percent of a landfill to be used to dispose containerized liquids.
The agency said at the time that its actions would in no way endanger public health or the environment.
The actions generated protests from environmentalists and some state officials who argued that industry would be free to dump all the hazardous liquids it wanted to over the three months. They also oppose the proposed regulations, saying toxic liquids leaking out of containers could endanger groundwater supplies and that liquids also cause containers to corrode more quickly.
The Hazardous Waste Treatment Council, composed of three firms that have developed alternate diposal methods, filed suit Monday to stop the lifting of the ban. The council also filed a petition with the EPA to protest the action.
The National Solid Wastes Management Association, the principal trade association for the disposal industry, filed a petition with EPA Wednesday asking that the revised standards be put into effect immediately because of the backlash caused by lifting the ban.
"These two petitions have raised potentially significant issues on an important environmental question of wide public concern," said Christopher Capper, EPA acting assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response.
EPA spokesman Byron Nelson said that by calling the public hearing, the agency showed it was willing to respond as quickly as possible to public concerns.