Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

On Toxic Substances

Adopted by the CCAR at the 95th Annual Convention of
the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Grossingers, New York, June 18-21, 1984

Judaism understands that the world is God's creation and that whoever helps to preserve it is doing God's work. We who inherit a tradition marked by a reverence for life must preserve the earth and all its varied life for our own sake and for generations yet unborn.
The problem of chemical and radioactive wastes is of comparatively recent origin. The generation of long-lasting dangerous chemical wastes began about forty years ago. At that time and for many years afterward, traditional methods of disposal underground, on the land, in the air, in rivers, or in the sea were followed and were considered satisfactory.
In recent years, the dangers of toxic waste disposal, in both the United States and Canada, have become more and more visible. Some companies and governmental agencies have tried to dispose of their wastes in ways that would keep them from harming persons or the environment. Others have continued to follow practices that have proved dangerous. There is a serious difficulty in finding safe locations to store toxic wastes and ensuring permanently safe disposal.
In recent years, moreover, improper and unclean combustion of carbon fuels has acidified the rain to levels toxic to the environment. This acid rain affects every area of our nation, resulting in more than five billion dollars in damages each year to lakes, rivers, and forests.

Therefore be it resolved that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

1. Reaffirm its historic commitment to an environment free from dangers of chemical and radioactive wastes and pollutants.

2. Recognize that each individual bears responsibility for solving the problems of toxic waste.

3. Recognize that industry faces a very real problem in finding suitable sites for toxic wastes.

4. Encourage state and provincial legislative bodies to develop "funds," similar to the United States government's "Superfund," that will be adequate to locate and clean up abandoned sites where hazardous chemicals and radioactive wastes have been dumped, and encourage and support the research and development of safer disposal methods of toxic waste.

5. Promote legislation by the United States and Canadian governments which will encourage industry, through such devices as tax credits and small business loans, to clean up existing disposal sites, to assure safe disposal of toxic wastes in the future, and to eliminate air-borne pollutants.

6. Support the strict enforcement of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the provision of adequate resources to the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies to enforce it in order that toxic wastes disposed of in the present and future are disposed of safely and securely.

7. Support efforts of the United States and Canadian governments and their regulatory agencies to pursue vigorously those who misuse waste dumps and burn fuels improperly, and to demand compensation for damage that has already been done to persons and property due to unsafe disposal.

8. Encourage industry to examine its waste production processes and the recycling of toxic wastes in order to use them efficiently and to keep chemical and radioactive wastes that must be disposed of to the minimum amount.

9. Encourage the development and use of non-hazardous substitutes for materials and processes that currently generate hazardous wastes, as well as call for tightening of regulations to prohibit the introduction of toxic chemicals such as Dioxin into the environment.

10. Support efforts for international consideration and regulation of toxic waste disposal and clean-air standards, and the prohibition of toxic waste exportation to other countries.

11. Call for legislation requiring strict testing of pesticides and the regulation of both the export of pesticides banned in the United States and Canada, and the import of foodstuffs grown with the use of such banned material.