Medical Waste In Lake Baltimore Essay

1790 words - 7 pages

Per our recent conversation, it has recently been discovered that a significant amount of medical waste has washed up on the shores of Lake Baltimore. This is quite disconcerting, as a large amount of the state’s yearly revenues come from businesses adjacent to the lake, including a large tourist sector: if this issue is not resolved quickly, I fear that the industries that rely on the beauty of the lake will suffer greatly. The Hopkins Attorney General has advised me that, through a cooperative federalist model, our state has the ability to self-regulate national EPA statutes. This presents an opportunity to use the power of several EPA regulations to stop the release of medical waste into the lake as efficiently as possible.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) originated in the 1950s as a state-regulated statute, with several significant changes made over the course of the last 60 years. The last major amendment, in 1977, reformed how outdoor air quality is regulated across the United States, establishing a list of six chemicals that are strictly monitored through the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and a much longer list of hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) that have varying levels of regulation. Because of the strict purview of media that can be regulated by the CAA, I do not think that this law is our best avenue for preventing the release of medical waste into Lake Baltimore: the CAA only regulates outdoor air quality and has no impact on water pollution. That being said, the CAA does enforce standards for incineration of medical waste; regulation through this method of waste disposal may allow us to prevent future environmental disasters influenced by the hospitals’ need to dispose of large amount of medical waste.
There are several federal regulations that monitor the health and cleanliness of water quality: these include the Ocean Dumping Act, the Oil Pollution Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act; the first three laws mentioned are not applicable to our current situation, but the Clean Water Act (CWA) may be our best solution to preventing the release of medical waste into the lake. The CWA is based on the interstate commerce clause, drawn directly from the Constitution, and allows for contaminant regulation of waters that have been deemed ‘navigable.’ As our Lake Baltimore is used in a variety of capacities, including recreational boating and swimming, it fits the criteria necessary to be considered a navigable body. The language in the CWA states that discharge into all regulated bodies of water must be permitted; as you can imagine, neither hospital nor the waste facility near the lake have been permitted to dump into its waters. As all three potential waste origins are considered point sources, we could potentially determine from whom the waste came and implement sanction accordingly; if, however, we are unable to determine who has released the waste into Lake Baltimore, we...

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