WASHINGTON-Spokesmen for the three principal tire industry trade groups expressed disappointment in the revised House and Senate Republican Superfund proposals. After promising similar deals on repealing retroactive liability for Superfund cleanups, both Rep. Michael Oxley of Ohio and Sen. Robert Smith of New Hampshire doubled back, offering partial credits or tax rebates instead for companies forced to pay for past legal waste disposal.
The Oxley bill also excludes small businesses and scrap rubber recyclers from nearly all Superfund liability, as long as they meet certain criteria.
``We are extremely disappointed,'' said Donald T. Wilson, government relations director for the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association. ``It has always been our position that retroactive liability is not fair and not in the best interests of the country. We thought we had a commitment from the Republicans, and that they have backed down is tremendously disappointing.''
The Rubber Manufacturers Association also is disappointed, according to Peter J. Pantuso, vice pres-ident of public affairs.
``We were much more supportive of what was out there previously,'' he said.
The American Retreaders Association also supported repeal of retroactive liability, but both bills are ``a step in the right direction,'' according to Roy E. Littlefield III, government relations director for the ARA.
``The Oxley proposals will probably get all our members out of it completely,'' he said.
The Oxley bill eliminates liability for small businesses at some 250 municipal solid waste landfills if: they contributed only municipal solid waste or sewage sludge to a Superfund site; they contributed less than 55 gallons or 1,000 pounds of hazardous waste to a Superfund site; or they contributed less than 1 percent of the total waste to a pre-1987 Superfund site.
Businesses that ``arranged for the recycling of recyclable material,'' including scrap rubber other than whole tires, also are exempt as long as they can demonstrate their status as recyclers to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Parties not exempted under these rules are still eligible for a ``retroactive liability discount,'' which will reimburse them for part of their cleanup costs.
According to Mr. Oxley, the discount will pay at least 30 percent of retroactive liability for each potentially responsible party (PRP), and may pay as much as 50 percent, depending on available funds.
Both the Oxley and Smith bills establish a mandatory, non-binding allocation process for determining cleanup shares. The Smith bill allocates unidentifiable shares equally among PRPs, but would pay bankrupt or insolvent parties' shares out of federal funds.
PRPs who accept the allocator's findings get a 50-percent tax credit for pre-1980 cleanup costs under the Smith proposal. Small polluters are eligible for an early settlement, and de micromis parties-those who contribute less than 110 gallons or 200 pounds of hazard-ous waste-are exempt.
Pressures to cut federal spend-ing prevented a full repeal of retroactive liability, according to Messrs. Oxley and Smith.