US EPA to Begin Unilateral New Chemical Restriction
The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is preparing to issue a “unilateral” restriction on new chemicals, an option it has never used before, by issuing the first series of unilateral orders in the upcoming months. Such orders would restrict a new chemical that has never been made in or imported into the US. The agency would do so without any input from the company that wants to make or import the new chemical.
EPA commonly issues orders limiting, for example, how much of a new chemical can be released into water. But historically, such orders have been negotiated with a company seeking to make or import the new chemical and then unilateral restrictions are imposed only when a new chemical might injure people or the environment and when a would-be manufacturer has been unresponsive. The goal is to allow the commercialization of products.
The “unilateral” restrictions are targeted for pre-manufacture notice (PMN) cases that have been open for an extended period of time. These cases have been “stuck” in the system for multiple potential reasons, but ultimately EPA has identified an unreasonable risk, based on the current submission requiring the PMN submitter to mitigate the risks before the cases can be finished. The agency has been actively working with the PMN submitters to get the cases moving, whereby the submitter is asked to provide additional data to mitigate the identified risks. In some cases, PMN submitters have chosen to withdraw the PMN. In other cases, EPA is issuing consent orders, with, for example, release-to-water triggers, and for the cases whereby the PMN submitter is nonresponsive, the agency will move to issue the “unilateral” restriction. This will not impact any existing chemicals and will only affect a few companies. Most RadTech members should not be impacted
Changes to RCRA Ignitability Characteristics
The US EPA administrator has signed a final rule to “modernize” the ignitability characteristic under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). It is one of the methods used to determine when solid wastes must be managed as hazardous wastes under federal law (and, with limited variations, the laws of all states). While the proposed rule would have made several substantive changes to the characteristics that could have significantly expanded the scope of the hazardous waste program, EPA backed away from most such changes in the final rule. Instead, it makes mostly technical changes to the characteristic, although the preamble includes guidance that may be more significant. The final rule will take effect, as a matter of federal law, 60 days after it appears in the Federal Register. It will take much longer for the rule to take effect in
EPR Bills Frozen; Proponents See Path Forward
Before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, legislation aimed at addressing long-running issues around recycling was gaining more attention than it had in decades. That momentum stalled when state legislatures and Congress reduced operations to stop virus spread. For proponents of extended producer responsibility (EPR) efforts, the pause has sparked concern and disappointment. But, many also are optimistic the pandemic could ultimately make the case for improved systems involving producers, governments and consumers by tackling what they say are deeply rooted supply chain issues.
First Chemical Added to HAPs List Since 1990
On June 18, 2020, the US EPA published a Federal Register notice granting petitions to add n-propyl bromide, commonly known as 1-bromopropane (1-BP), to the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) list of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). Once the agency takes a separate regulatory action to add the chemical to the list of HAPs, the action will represent the first addition to the list since 1990, when it was created. 1-BP is found in degreasers, cleaners, spray adhesives, automotive refrigerant flushes and lubricants.
Recycling Industry Launches Initiative to Determine Recyclability of Products
The recycling industry announced a new undertaking to help solve the ongoing confusion in the marketplace over what products are or are not truly recyclable. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industry (ISRI), serving as the voice of the recycling industry, is developing a recyclability protocol and certification system for paper-based packaging products entering into the recycling stream. Once developed, the protocol will be expanded to other products made from recyclable commodities.
Doreen M. Monteleone, Ph.D.
Director of Sustainability & EHS Initiatives
RadTech International North America
News From the West Coast
SCAQMD to Urge EPA to Update Guidelines
The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires that certain geographic areas ensure that air pollution regulations and emission sources fulfill the Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) requirements and meet “current” science and emission control information. To establish a RACT level across the nation, the CAA requires the EPA to develop Control Techniques Guidelines (CTGs) and Alternative Control Techniques (ACTs) for volatile organic compound (VOC) sources. On June 5, 2020, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) staff presented its RACT demonstration for governing board approval. But, most of the CTGs on which SCAQMD based its review were issued before 1990 – some in 1978 – and most of the ACT documents were issued in the mid-1990s. At that time, UV/EB often was not taken into consideration, and the data used to describe UV/EB now are out of date. It should be noted that technologies that compete with UV/EB, such as waterborne and solvent processes (with add-on control devices), already have been included in the analysis for many of the categories contemplated by the RACT Demonstration.
In a presentation, staff indicated: “UV/EB will be evaluated under all feasible measures for the 2022 AQMP.” RadTech members testified at the board meeting and had support from an environmental organization to convey that delaying the evaluation until 2022 is not warranted. Unfortunately, staff made negative statements about the technology, which swayed the board to go along with the staff recommendation. The vote included a commitment for the district to send a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency in support of updating its documents and including UV/EB/LED. RadTech recently received a copy of the letter. The RACT demonstration now moves to the state for approval. The webcast of the meeting (see 3:16 on ribbon) can be found at the following link: http://www.aqmd.gov/home/news-events/webcast/live-webcast?ms=6gIUCvmM_uo
California Air Districts Sue Federal Agencies
The South Coast Air Quality Management District announced it filed a lawsuit alongside the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, challenging the Trump Administration’s decision on Clean Vehicle Standards. The petition argues that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have allowed “rollbacks” to the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule. “These actions will set back years of air quality progress and are not supported by the public, local agencies or the automotive industry,” said the Executive Officer of South Coast AQMD. According to the districts, the rollbacks will result in the release of additional air pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2021 through 2026 model passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks and will weaken fuel efficiency standards established in 2012. They believe this does not promote the continued production of electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles by reducing the amount of compliance credit that automobile manufacturers can earn from these vehicles. The lawsuit was filed with the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.
Coatings Containing Chromium
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) proposes to amend its Rule 1469.1-Spraying Operations Using Coatings Containing Chromium. The agency will hold a Working Group Meeting to “provide stakeholders an opportunity to work with South Coast AQMD staff on proposed amended rule provisions and to discuss key issues or concerns early in the rule development process.” The district has released preliminary results of an industry survey during previous meetings. Surveys were sent to 108 facilities to gather information about equipment, operations and general industry practice and approach to housekeeping and waste disposal. The district conducted testing in response to questions from industry on whether or not hexavalent chromium was present in dry coatings. The agency has concluded that the toxic material is present, even after the coating has dried. According to staff, when inhaled, hexavalent chromium present in dried coatings affects the body the same way as when it is present in other materials. The agency pointed to a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which found sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of hexavalent chromium compounds as encountered in chromate production, chromate pigment production and chromium plating industries. Industry representatives have expressed concern over the added cost of requirements to fully enclose spray booths and additional source testing, the latter of which can range from $10,000 to $30,000 per test. The upcoming meeting will focus on initial recommendations for point source and parameter monitoring requirements. The final proposal is expected to be presented during the first quarter of 2021.
Director of Regional Environmental Affairs
RadTech International North America