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Gulf of Mexico groups oppose EPA waste plan

Lawyers for environmentalists, shrimpers, farm workers, and the States of Texas and Louisiana are trying to block federal permits allowing incineration of 80 million gallons of toxic wastes at sea. The groups say they are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's failure to draft broad regulations for ocean incineration before granting permits.

A suit was to be filed Monday in US District Court in Brownsville, Texas, where the EPA in two weeks will hold public hearings on the proposed burning permits. The agency's plan to allow high-temperature incineration of wastes far out in the Gulf of Mexico signals a controversial new turn in the government's program to ensure safe disposal of hazardous wastes. It has triggered a storm of protests from at least one national environmental group, Greenpeace, Gulf Coast residents who fear a catastrophic spill, and shrimpers, who worry shellfish will be contaminated.

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