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Council Passes Pollution Laws

Enacts Restrictions on Three Environmental Pollutants

By Matthew M. Hoffman

The City Council decided to think globally and act locally Monday night, enacting a set of tough ordinances designed to protect the environment from a variety of pollutants.

Capping off a seven-month effort by Councillor Francis H. Duehay '55, the nine-member council gave unanimous approval to three new laws regulating environmentally damaging substances. In passing the laws, Cambridge joins a small handful of U.S. cities that have chosen to combat environmental pollution at the local level.

"It is up to the local communities to take the first step, and this tough ordinance is a first step," Duehay said, introducing the first of the three laws.

The regulations passed include:

. Severe restrictions on the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which damage the atmosphere by destroying the stratospheric ozone layer that shields the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Under the new law, anyone performing repair service on air conditioners and refrigerators that use CFCs is required to recover and recycle the harmful chemicals. It also bans the use of ozone-damaging halons in fire extinguishers, and phases out all use of other harmful substances.

The law also provides for periodic reviews and updates of its provisions to accomodate changes in technology.

. Establishment of a new committee to establish guidelines for recycling of used motor oil, considered one of the state's most severe toxic problems. The law also bans disposal of motor oil.

. Establishment of an advisory committee on environmentally desirable practices to promote reduction and recycling of non-residential solid waste.

Duehay said yesterday that laws similar to the one dealing with CFCs had been enacted by 10 to 15 U.S. cities, including Denver, Newark and Irvine, Cal. Laws similar to the other restrictions have been approved in a comparable number of cities, he said.

The three laws met with praise from both council members and community members, many of whom said that the legislation would move Cambridge to the forefront of American cities in local environmental regulation.

Several council members said that the council should pass the laws without dissent in order to boost the strength of its message.

"I would hope that these ordinances could be adopted unanimously to send a message that Cambridge is a city that cares about the environment," said Councillor Edward N. Cyr.

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