Report: Feds to relax selenium water rules

Aug. 31, 2004 at 1:39 PM
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SACRAMENTO, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The Bush administration has reportedly drafted a plan to relax the standards for selenium levels in the nation's waterways.

The Sacramento Bee said Tuesday it had obtained a draft of the EPA proposal that would bring selenium limits more in line with those urged by agricultural, mining and power-generation interests.

The proposal would allow nearly 8 parts per million (ppm) in fish, compared with the current EPA standard of 5 ppm in water.

Selenium is a metal that can become toxic to waterfowl in high enough concentrations, and is often a byproduct of mining, the burning of coal and irrigation. It was blamed for a major bird kill in California's Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge.

The Bee said industry groups have produced a number of studies minimizing the risks of selenium, although the newspaper said a number of government biologists believe the standards should be strengthened.

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