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Hazardous Waste Disposal Letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate Transmitting Proposed Legislation.

June 13, 1979

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Today I am transmitting legislation to address some of the most significant environmental and public health problems facing our Nation. The problems which the legislation is designed to address are extremely serious. Recent months have focused public attention on a series of past improper hazardous waste disposal incidents such as the tragedy of Love Canal, New York. This case clearly demonstrates the unacceptable costs of improper hazardous waste disposal which may accrue from other incidents such as:

• contamination of surface and ground waters including drinking water supplies;

• staggering financial costs of cleaning up and containing wastes; and

• acute poisoning, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and promotion of miscarriages and birth defects.

The proposed legislation is a comprehensive program with the financial responsibility shared by Federal, State and local governments as well as industry. For spills of oil or hazardous substances, the legislation establishes a comprehensive and uniform system of notification, emergency response, enforcement, liability and limited economic compensation for such incidents. For uncontrolled sites, the proposed legislation would establish essentially the same program but without economic compensation. This comprehensive program would be implemented


• requiring notification of spills and the presence of uncontrolled hazardous waste disposal sites;

• empowering the Federal Government to clean up and mitigate pollution in those incidents where the liable parties do not respond adequately or cannot be quickly identified;

• enforcing higher standards of care in the handling of oil, hazardous substances and hazardous wastes including recovery from liable parties of governmental response costs and economic compensation;

• providing compensation for the economic damages sustained by innocent victims of spills.

The States have a significant role in implementing this legislation. Although the proposed legislation authorizes Federal action in emergency situations, the States are expected to provide financing for both the short-term and long-term containment of releases from hazardous dumpsites.

The legislation provides a major innovation in the manner we approach environmental rehabilitation. In particular, those elements of the private sector which produce hazardous chemicals will share, along with the Federal and State governments, in the financial responsibility for meeting the goals of the legislation through a system of fees.

The legislation provides for a mid-term evaluation. Within three years of enactment a report will be submitted to the Congress which would include experience to date in implementing the legislation; the extent, if any, of the critical uncontrolled sites problem; projected funds required for spill response; extent of State participation; and recommendations for statutory modification in such areas as fee structure, fund operation, liability limits, and financial responsibility limits.

It has become abundantly clear over the past several months that exposure of humans and the environment to dangers from spills of oil, hazardous substances and hazardous wastes and from releases at uncontrolled hazardous waste disposal sites are two of the most pressing environmental problems facing the Nation. I believe that the proposed legislation represents a comprehensive and effective approach for protecting people and the environment from such incidents. I am hopeful that this proposal will receive prompt consideration and speedy enactment. The health of the public and the environment cannot afford less.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Walter F. Mondale, President of the Senate.

Jimmy Carter, Hazardous Waste Disposal Letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate Transmitting Proposed Legislation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250119

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