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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.

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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