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GreenBits: Briefs for the Week of Aug. 4, 2000

Highlights from the world of business and the environment: Voluntary Reporting ... Chemical Accident Info ... Natural Fiber Gains ...

Mexico’s Voluntary Environmental Reporting Fails

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2000 – According to Paul Orum, with the Working Group on Community Right-to-Know, Mexico's pollutant release reporting program remains voluntary. Only some 5% of industries in Mexico actually reported release data for 1997, the most recent year for which even limited data are available, Orum said in a report published by the Gallon Environmental Letter. Orum points to one instance in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California separately requested TRI-equivalent data from U.S.-owned facilities that operate in Mexico; they reportedly received almost no response, despite the stature of the government behind the request. As a result, the EPA had to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to subpoena 95 U.S.-based companies in Mexico to submit the environmental information.

EPA, DOJ Issue Rules on Chemical Accident Info

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2000 – The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice have issued regulations governing public access to and distribution of information about potential chemical accidents from industrial facilities. Under the regulations, the public may receive some information from the Internet, such as, for example, if one lives in a neighborhood that could be affected by a chemical release. No specific information on chemical locations, however, will be posted on the Internet so as to ensure no increased risk from terrorist or criminal activity. For more information, visit EPA's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office Web site at

Natural Fibers Commanding Greater Market Share in EU

HUERTH, Germany, Aug. 4, 2000 – According to a new report from The Nova Institute, a private and independent research institute that promotes and develops political and ecological innovations, hemp and flax production are up in Europe. According to Nova’s "Study on Markets and Prices for Natural Fibres in Germany and the European Union,” approximately 60,000 to 70,000 tons of flax and 25,000 to 30,000 tons of hemp short fibers were produced in the EU last year. Flax short fibers command 45% of the standard and specialty pulp market and 20% of the apparel and home textile sector. Hemp fibers hold 87% of the specialty pulp market. The report says new product lines for short fibers are being pursued with the help of well-sponsored research and development projects and innovative entrepreneurs. The most promising are composites for the automotive industry and thermal insulation materials for the building sector. European fiber processors forecast a market share for these product lines of about 30% to 40% of the still-growing market as soon as 2005.

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