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Burning toxic waste at sea gets initial OK from EPA

Setting the stage for stormy public hearings, the Environmental Protection Agency has given preliminary approval on permits for a toxic waste disposal company to burn at sea more than 80 million gallons of wastes.

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The action, over protests of environmental groups and many Gulf Coast residents, means the EPA has decided to grant long-term permits for incineration ships, although it has yet to adopt broad regulations for ocean incineration of chemical-laden wastes. The ships will burn a wide range of waste mixtures, including polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and up to 2 parts per million of dioxin, considered the most toxic chemical made.

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