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Proposition 65: Toxic Wastes

November 03, 1986

The Times (Oct. 29) is dead wrong in its editorial assessment of Proposition 65, the Tough on Toxics initiative. The initiative will not encourage "bounty hunters" to track down alleged polluters. Rather, citizens could initiate lawsuits only after state and local authorities have had an opportunity to act. Already, six federal laws provide for such citizen suits and, to date, only 189 have been filed nationwide. This is a far cry from the flood of lawsuits claimed by Proposition 65's opponents.

The restrictions and timetables are not, as The Times purports, too rigid. They follow the guidelines and policies that are currently followed by the state Department of Health Services. In fact, no chemicals will make the list of forbidden substances until the evidence is clear, scientifically valid, and authoritative. Even then, the law would apply only to "significant amounts," defined as exceeding scientifically safe levels.

The burden of proof should rest with business to prove that the chemicals they discharge into the public's water supply is safe. The cost of doing business should not be at the expense of the public's health.

ELIZABETH G. REIFSNIDER

Los Angeles

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