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Final Rule - Cadmium Aquatic Life Criterion Applicable to Oregon Fresh Waters

EPA has finalized a freshwater acute aquatic life criterion for cadmium in Oregon to protect aquatic life from the effects of exposure to harmful levels of cadmium. EPA has also approved the freshwater copper aquatic life criteria submitted by Oregon that will protect aquatic life from the effects of exposure to harmful levels of copper. In 2013, EPA disapproved Oregon’s 2004 adoption of a freshwater cadmium criterion to limit short-term (acute) adverse effects, and freshwater copper criteria to limit acute and long-term (chronic) adverse effects, after determining these criteria did not meet Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements to protect aquatic life in the state. The CWA directs EPA to promptly propose water quality standards that meet CWA requirements if a state does not adopt standards addressing an EPA disapproval.

Oregon submitted revised acute and chronic aquatic life criteria for freshwater copper to EPA on November 14, 2016, which EPA approved on January 9, 2017. Oregon did not adopt a revised acute cadmium criterion; therefore, EPA finalized the freshwater acute cadmium criterion via this rule in accordance with the CWA.  A consent decree between EPA and Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA) required EPA to sign this final rule by January 16, 2017.

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