Hazardous Waste Legislation

A bill that seeks to prevent industrial accidents like the Oct. 9 fire at a chemical plant in Apex received the Legislature's final approval Wednesday. The measure would require such facilities to provide information to emergency workers about the types of chemicals in storage, and urges the state to review ways to increase financing for special state medical assistance teams that respond to waste accidents. The bill would require commercial hazardous waste facilities to renew their permits at least every five years instead of the current 10-year cycle. Property owners would be notified of the permitting process if they live within a quarter-mile of a proposed storage site.

The House approved the original bill unanimously last month and offered no debate before again voting unanimously to accept minor changes approved last week by the Senate. The measure now goes to the desk of Gov. Mike Easley, who is expected to sign the bill. Much of the law becomes effective immediately when the bill is signed, with a few more complicated sections binding as of July 1 or Oct. 1. The fire at the EQ Industrial Services plant blanketed parts of Apex in a yellow-green haze, and prompted town officials to urge residents to evacuate their homes. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/20/07).