Changing chemical standards in surface water

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITAL NEWSDESK) - Environmental groups are crying foul as the state cites new science and proposes changing the standards for chemicals that can be released into surface waters.

The proposed change looks at the criteria for 43 regulated chemicals that are released into surface waters. It would allow higher limits for about half of them, while regulating 39 new compounds.

Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary Drew Bartlett says the changes are safe and based on new science.

"A lot of them are getting more stringent. Some of them are getting less stringent. It's just what the science tells us," says Bartlett. "So when you look at a number in a table and see a difference, people are going to react."

But the changes have environmentalists up in arms. The Florida Clean Water Network says most of the changes raise limits above those recommended by the EPA. They call it a cancer lottery.

"There's a number of major industrial processes and companies that would benefit greatly from these relaxed, and I would call it the unproductive criteria," says an FCWN representative.

In the end, many environmentalists say they just can't trust an agency that reportedly won't let its employees say the words "climate change."

Dr. Ray Bellamy is not a toxicologist, but he was appointed by both Democratic and Republican Governors and served six years on the commission that will make the ultimate decision.

"We consider almost everything they do to reflect industry pressure and interests," says Bellamy.

DEP says it has not yet decided when it will take it's proposal to the Environmental Regulation Commission for final approval, but that a panel of scientists reviewed the changes.