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Will Hillsborough increase allowed levels of industrial toxins in wastewater?

Hillsborough County is considering an ordinance to deal with wastewater; environmentalists say overall that’s a good thing but there’s concern about one aspect: a proposal to allow higher levels of some industrial toxins in wastewater before it gets treated.

Kent Bailey, chair of Tampa Bay Sierra Club met with some members of county staff Friday morning to address his concerns.

“The Sierra Club is particularly concerned about new standards, which would establish allowable levels for two chemicals that have previously not been a part of our ordinance and regulated. One is dichlorobenzene and the other is DEHP.

“Now, DEHP has been banned by the European union. They don’t allow it there. It has been identified as one of the 6th most dangerous chemicals in the world, to human beings. It is associated with various cancers of reproductive organs in men and women, breast cancer. It interferes with the proper development of the sex organs in embryos and has numerous other health implications and we’re very concerned about the prospect of seeing DEHP or dichlorobenzene in our bay waters.

“The staff was very forthcoming. We appreciate, very much, the opportunity to talk to them about this ordinance. And while they didn’t have answers to all of our questions, we’ve been promised that they will get back to us, especially about these two particularly bad chemicals, the DEHP and the dichlorobenzene and assure us that these are not going to be finding their way into our bay ecosystem.”

“The ordinance is over 120 pages long and our concern is pretty much related to just 3 or 4 of those 120 some pages. It’s gonna do a lot to reduce stormwater intrusion into our wastewater system. It’s gonna help our wastewater system work more efficiently. It’s gonna save taxpayers money. It’s overall a really great ordinance, I think. A good ordinance. Outside of our concerns about allowing higher levels of some pollutants and most particularly the DEHP and the dichlorobenzene, we’re happy to see this coming forward.”