Skip to Content

Notice

Notice of Availability of Revised Draft Aquatic Life Criteria Document for Atrazine and Request for Scientific Views

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Notice of availability and request for scientific views.

SUMMARY:

This action notifies the public about the availability of a revised draft aquatic life criteria document for atrazine and requests scientific views. The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and publish, and from time to time revise, criteria for water accurately reflecting the latest scientific knowledge. When final, these criteria will provide EPA's recommendations to States and authorized Tribes as they establish their water quality standards as State or Tribal law or regulation. At this time the Agency is not making a final recomendation, rather the Agency is requesting scientific views on the draft document.

DATES:

All significant scientific information must be submitted to the Agency on or before February 5, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

Scientific views must be submitted electronically, by mail, or through hand-delivery/courier. Follow detailed instructions as provided in section C of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section. Copies of the criteria document entitled, Draft Ambient Aquatic Life Water Quality Criteria for Atrazine (EPA-822-R-03-023) may be obtained from EPA's Water Resource Center by phone at (202) 566-2426, or by e-mail to center.water.resource@epa.gov or by conventional mail to: EPA Water Resource Center, 4101T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460. You can also download the document from EPA's Web site at http://www.epa.gov/​waterscience/​criteria/​atrazine/​. OPP's risk assessment can be downloaded from http://www.epa.gov/​oppsrrd1/​reregistration/​atrazine/​.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Frank Gostomski, Health and Ecological Criteria Division (4304), U.S. EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460; (202) 566-1105; gostomski.frank@epa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. General Information

A. Interested Entities

Entities potentially interested in today's notice are those that produce, use, or regulate atrazine. Categories and entities interested in today's action include:

CategoryExamples of interested entities
State/Local/Tribal GovernmentMidwest “cornbelt” States and Tribes.
Herbicide ProducersSyngenta.
Herbicide UsersGrowers of corn and sugarcane.

This table is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide for readers regarding entities likely to be Start Printed Page 63093interested by this action. This table lists the types of entities that EPA is now aware could potentially be interested by this action. Other types of entities not listed in the table could also be interested.

B. How Can I Get Copies of This Document and Other Related Information ?

1. Docket. EPA has established an official public docket for this action under Docket ID No. OW-2001-0010. The official public docket consists of the documents specifically referenced in this action, any scientific views received, and other information related to this action. Although a part of the official docket, the public docket does not include Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. The official public docket is the collection of materials that is available for public viewing at Water Docket in the EPA Docket Center, (EPA/DC) EPA West, Room B102, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the Water Docket is (202) 566-1744. To view these documents materials, please call ahead to schedule an appointment. Every user is entitled to copy 266 pages per day before incurring a charge. The Docket may charge 15 cents a page for each page over the 266-page limit plus an administrative fee of $25.00.

2. Electronic Access. You may access this Federal Register document electronically through the EPA Internet under the “Federal Register” listings at http://www.epa.gov/​fedrgstr/​.

An electronic version of the public docket is available through EPA's electronic public docket and comment system, EPA Dockets. You may use EPA Dockets at http://www.epa.gov/​edocket/​ to submit or view scientific views, access the index listing of the contents of the official public docket, and to access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, select “search,” then key in the appropriate docket identification number.

Certain types of information will not be placed in the EPA Dockets. Information claimed as CBI and other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute, which is not included in the official public docket, will not be available for public viewing in EPA's electronic public docket. EPA's policy is that copyrighted material will not be placed in EPA's electronic public docket but will be available only in printed, paper form in the official public docket. To the extent feasible, publicly available docket materials will be made available in EPA's electronic public docket. When a document is selected from the index list in EPA Dockets, the system will identify whether the document is available for viewing in EPA's electronic public docket. Although not all docket materials may be available electronically, you may still access any of the publicly available docket materials through the docket facility identified in section I.B.

It is important to note that EPA's policy is that scientific views, whether submitted electronically or in paper, will be made available for public viewing in EPA's electronic public docket as EPA receives them and without change, unless your views and information contain copyrighted material, CBI, or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. When EPA identifies a scientific view containing copyrighted material, EPA will provide a reference to that material in the version of the scientific view that is placed in EPA's electronic public docket. The entire printed scientific view, including the copyrighted material, will be available in the public docket.

Scientific views submitted on computer disks that are mailed or delivered to the docket will be transferred to EPA's electronic public docket. Scientific views that are mailed or delivered to the Docket will be scanned and placed in EPA's electronic public docket. Where practical, physical objects will be photographed, and the photograph will be placed in EPA's electronic public docket along with a brief description written by the docket staff.

C. How and To Whom Do I Submit Scientific Views?

You may submit scientific views electronically, by mail, by facsimile, or through hand delivery/courier. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, identify the appropriate docket identification number in the subject line on the first page of your scientific views. Please ensure that your scientific views are submitted within the specified period. Scientific views received after the close of the review period will be marked “late.” EPA is not required to consider these late scientific views.

1. Electronically. If you submit electronic information as prescribed below, EPA recommends that you include your name, mailing address, and an e-mail address or other contact information in the body of your scientific views. Also include this contact information on the outside of any disk or CD ROM you submit, and in any cover letter accompanying the disk or CD ROM. This ensures that you can be identified as the submitter of the scientific information and allows EPA to contact you in case EPA cannot read your scientific views due to technical difficulties or needs further information on the substance of your scientific views. EPA's policy is that EPA will not edit your scientific views, and any identifying or contact information provided in the body of the scientific views will be included as part of the scientific views that are placed in the official public docket, and made available in EPA's electronic public docket. If EPA cannot read your scientific views due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your scientific views.

i. EPA Dockets. Your use of EPA's electronic public docket to submit scientific views to EPA electronically is EPA's preferred method for receiving scientific views. Go directly to EPA Dockets at http://www.epa.gov/​edocket, and follow the online instructions for submitting scientific views. To access EPA's electronic public docket from the EPA Internet Home Page, select “Information Sources,” “Dockets,” and “EPA Dockets.” Once in the system, select “search,” and then key in Docket ID No. OW-2001-0010. The system is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity, e-mail address, or other contact information unless you provide it in the body of your information.

ii. E-mail. Scientific views may be sent by electronic mail (e-mail) to OW-Docket@epa.gov, Attention Docket No. OW-2001-0010. In contrast to EPA's electronic public docket, EPA's e-mail system is not an “anonymous access” system. If you send an e-mail scientific views directly to the Docket without going through EPA's electronic public docket, EPA's e-mail system automatically captures your e-mail address. E-mail addresses that are automatically captured by EPA's e-mail system are included as part of the information that is placed in the official public docket, and made available in EPA's electronic public docket.

iii. Disk or CD ROM. You may submit scientific views on a disk or CD ROM that you mail to the mailing address identified in section I.C.2. These electronic submissions will be accepted in WordPerfect or ASCII file format. Avoid the use of special characters and any form of encryption. Start Printed Page 63094

2. By Mail. Send your scientific views to: Water Docket in the EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode 4101T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket ID No. OW-2001-0010.

3. By Hand Delivery or Courier. Deliver your scientific views to: Water Docket, EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room B102, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC, Attention Docket ID No. OW-2001-0010. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation as identified in section I.B.1.

D. What Should I Consider as I Prepare My Scientific Views for EPA?

You may find the following suggestions helpful for preparing your scientific views:

1. Explain your scientific views as clearly as possible.

2. Describe any assumptions that you used.

3. Provide any technical information and/or data you used that support your scientific views.

4. Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns.

5. Offer alternatives.

6. Make sure to submit your scientific views by the deadline identified.

7. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, identify the appropriate docket identification number in the subject line on the first page of your response. It would also be helpful if you provided the name, date, and Federal Register citation related to your scientific views.

II. Background and Today's Action

A. What Are Recommended Water Quality Criteria?

Recommended water quality criteria are the concentrations of a chemical in water at or below which aquatic life are protected from acute and chronic adverse effects of the chemical. Section 304(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act requires EPA to develop and publish, and from time to time revise, criteria for water accurately reflecting the latest scientific knowledge. Water quality criteria developed under section 304(a) are based solely on data and scientific judgments. They do not consider economic impacts or the technological feasibility of meeting the criteria in ambient water. Section 304(a) criteria provide guidance to States and Tribes in adopting water quality standards. The criteria also provide a scientific basis for EPA to develop Federally promulgated water quality standards under section 303(c).

B. What Is Atrazine and Why Are We Concerned About It?

Atrazine is an organic chemical used as an herbicide throughout the U.S. for control of weeds in agricultural crops. Environmental exposure occurs mainly from its application as an herbicide but may also occur from industrial manufacture, distribution releases, precipitation, field runoff, and drift. Atrazine is moderately volatile and soluble in water, and resistant to natural degradation in water. Because of atrazine's chemical properties and widespread use as an herbicide, concerns have been raised over the potential risks posed by exposure of aquatic organisms to it. For these reasons, EPA has developed the following water quality criteria:

C. What Are the National Recommended Water Quality Criteria?

Freshwater

Aquatic life should not be affected unacceptably if the: One-hour average concentration of atrazine does not exceed 1,500 ug/l more than once every three years on the average (Acute Criterion) and if the Average Primary Producer Steinhaus Similarity deviation for a site is less than 5% (as determined using the Comprehensive Aquatic Systems Model (CASM) [1] or other appropriate model and index) and is not exceeded more than once every three years (or other appropriate return frequency sufficient to allow system recovery). The 5% index for the protection of aquatic plant community should also be protective of most freshwater animals (Chronic Criterion).

Saltwater

Aquatic life should not be affected unacceptably if the: One hour average concentration of atrazine does not exceed 760 ug/l more than once every three years on the average (Acute Criterion) and if the thirty-day average concentration of atrazine does not exceed 17 ug/l more than once every three years on the average (Chronic Criterion).

D. How Are the Revised Draft Criteria in Today's Publication Different From the 2001 Criteria?

The revised draft criteria in today's publication incorporate information on the toxicity of atrazine to aquatic plants and invertebrates that had not been available at the time of the 2001 publication. The change in critical endpoints reflects the scientific views of the Agency, the registrant, and those received from the public.

E. How Has EPA Coordinated Development of Ecological Risk Assessments on Atrazine Between the Office of Water (OW) and the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP)?

Concurrent with OW's release of the Draft Aquatic Life Criteria Document for Atrazine at 66 FR 49186, OPP released its Preliminary Ecological Fate and Effects Risk Assessment of Atrazine at 66 FR 49180. Both offices shared their aquatic toxicity data bases for atrazine in the development of their risk assessment documents. OW and OPP also shared scientific views received on their respective risk assessment documents in response to their publication for review by the public.

Today, EPA is notifying the public about the availability of this aquatic life criteria document for atrazine to expand the public's involvement in the criteria development process. Simultaneously, EPA is publishing its Ecological Fate and Effects Risk Assessment for atrazine under FIFRA (http://www.epa.gov/​oppsrrd1/​reregistration/​atrazine/​).

EPA notified the public of its intent to develop aquatic life criteria for atrazine in the Federal Register on October 29, 1999 (64 FR 58409). At that time EPA made available to the public all references identified by a recent literature review and solicited any additional pertinent data or scientific views that would be useful in developing the draft aquatic life criteria for atrazine. EPA then made the draft aquatic life criteria document for atrazine available for public review.

The Office of Water and the Office of Pesticide Programs will continue to work together and with stakeholders (States, Tribes, manufacturers, growers, and other interested parties) to develop an implementation document for States and Tribes to use in their adoption of atrazine criteria in State and Tribal standards. The draft implementation document will be made available for public review. EPA's current thinking is that the document would include: Start Printed Page 63095

  • Mechanisms for States and Tribes to refine the exposure duration and frequency components of the atrazine criteria to best meet their more specific needs;
  • Mechanisms for States and Tribes to best define exposure duration and frequency components of their criteria to clearly establish when a water as impaired (i.e., the water quality criteria are not being attained in stream) due to atrazine contamination;
  • Mechanisms to establish screening levels (rolling average concentrations below the criteria) that if met would alleviate the need for States and Tribes to run complex models to determine if the chronic freshwater criteria is being met;

The Office of Water expects that it will obtain the necessary data to support the implementation document through a data generation agreement between the Office of Pesticides Programs and the Registrant. The Registrant will conduct a three year monitoring program in selected waters that will generate the data that EPA would use to provide additional information on how States and Tribes may adjust standards for more localized duration and frequency components of the criteria and more refined definitions of frequency and duration components of their criteria to clearly establish when a water is impaired waters for the purposes of CWA sections 305(b) and 303(d).

F. What Specific Questions of Science Does EPA Want Views on?

Though the public is welcome to submit scientific views on any component of the atrazine aquatic life criteria document, EPA is specifically interested in scientific views on the following issues of science:

  • The use of the Average Primary Producer Steinhaus Similarity deviation of 5% (as determined using the Comprehensive Aquatic Systems Model (CASM)) as protective of chronic effects to freshwater aquatic life;
  • The applicability of the same approach to the protection of chronic effects to salt water aquatic life in place of a Guidelines calculated concentration stated above in II.C. Conceptually, the approach used for fresh water chronic criteria should be equally applicable to salt water chronic criteria. To date, however, salt water toxicity data have not been employed in the model. Additionally, there are fewer atrazine toxicity data available for salt water species than for freshwater species.

G. Where Can I Find More Information on EPA's Revised Process for Developing New or Revised Draft Criteria?

The Agency published detailed information about its revised process for developing and revising criteria in the Federal Register on December 10, 1998 (63 FR 68354) and in the EPA document entitled, National Recommended Water Quality— Correction (EPA 822-Z-99-001, April 1999). The purpose of the revised process is to provide expanded opportunities for public input, and to make the criteria development process more efficient.

Start Signature

Dated: October 31, 2003.

G. Tracy Mehan,

Assistant Administrator, Office of Water.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  CASM is an aquatic ecological food chain model, specifically, the Comprehensive Aquatic Systems Model (Bartell et al. 2000, Bartell et al 1999, DeAngelis et al 1989).

Bartell, S.M., K.R. Campbell, C.M. Lovelock, S.K. Nair, and J.L. Shaw. 2000. Characterizing aquatic ecological risk from pesticides using a diquat dibromide case study III. Ecological Process Models. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 19(5):1441-1453.

Bartell, S.M., G. Lefebvre, G. Aminski, M. Carreau, and K.R. Campbell. 1999. An ecosystem model for assessing ecological risks in Quebec rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Ecol. Model. 124:43-67.

DeAngelis, D.L., S.M. Bartell, and A.L. Brenkert. 1989. Effects of nutrient recycling and food-chain length on resilience. Amer. Nat. 134(5):778-805.

Back to Citation

[FR Doc. 03-28102 Filed 11-6-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6560-50-P