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NRDC Statement on GAO Report Confirming Threats to Public Health on Nation's Beaches

LOS ANGELES (July 13, 2007) – In a report issued yesterday, the government’s General Accounting Office recognized the health risks faced by the public when enjoying the nation’s beaches. The report, “The BEACH Act of 2000: EPA and States Have Made Progress Implementing the Act, but Further Actions Could Increase Public Health Protection,” faults the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not acting as promptly and decisively as it should in establishing mechanisms and procedures to fully protect the public.
Concern with the lack of action by EPA led the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to bring a lawsuit against the agency in 2006.
GAO states, in its report, that “EPA has missed statutory deadlines for two critical requirements,” failing to complete, by 2003, the required “pathogen and human health studies,” and failing to publish, by 2005, the required “new or revised water quality criteria for pathogens.”
David Beckman, senior attorney with NRDC and director of its Coastal Water Quality Program: “The GAO report on EPA’s implementation of the Beach Act underscores that Americans are not being protected today by modern beach water quality standards. That is why NRDC filed suit to force EPA to update and publish new standards, as required by the Clean Water Act. A federal district court in Los Angeles has agreed that EPA is in violation of its mandatory duty.”

The GAO report can be found at http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/repandtest.html.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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