WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday nominated a Dow Chemicals lawyer to head-up an Environmental Protection Agency unit that oversees hazardous waste disposal and chemical spills from toxic “Superfund” sites.
Trump named Peter Wright as assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM). Wright served as Dow’s managing counsel for environmental health and safety and provided the company legal support for Superfund and other remediation sites, according to the EPA.
“He has the expertise and experience necessary to implement our ambitious goals for cleaning up the nation’s contaminated lands quickly and thoroughly,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a press release.
Pruitt has said that cleaning up Superfund sites would be a priority for the agency.
As head of OLEM, Wright would oversee the development of guidelines for the land disposal of hazardous waste and underground storage tanks and respond to abandoned and active hazardous waste sites, as well as accidental chemical releases through the Superfund program.
Dow Chemicals facilities are involved in dozens of Superfund projects.
Dow had accrued $219 million in accrued obligations for remediating Superfund sites, according to the company’s fourth quarter 2017 10-K filing.
Overall, Dow had accrued $1.3 billion in “probable environmental remediation and restoration costs,” according to the 10-K.
The EPA’s relationship with Dow had been under scrutiny after Pruitt last year announced the agency would decline to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, a chemical that EPA scientists and the American Academy of Pediatrics wanted to ban because of the risk it said it posed to children and farm workers.
Chlorpyrifos, produced by a variety of manufacturers, including a subsidiary of Dow Chemical.
Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; editing by Grant McCool