by Doreen M. Monteleone, Ph.D., director of sustainability & EHS initiatives
RadTech International North America
Toxic Substance Control Act Reform
Late in 2015, the Senate passed a bill overhauling the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), called the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act). One of the biggest proposed changes is the revision of the standard for determining chemical safety. Under the current TSCA, the US Environment Protection Agency (US EPA) conducts a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether a chemical is safe for its intended use. Specifically, this cost-benefit analysis allows US EPA to consider the cost of regulation when determining whether a chemical is safe for its intended use. The Lautenberg Acts safety standard explicitly precludes the consideration of cost or other non-risk factors in determining whether a chemical poses an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.
Reforms to the TSCA have not yet been signed into law. However, the recent passage of both the Lautenberg Act and the related bill in the House of Representatives shows these changes are likely coming. To prepare for this overhaul of the TSCA, companies should start considering how the proposed changes might affect the products they sell and their businesses overall. Learn more at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/697/all-info.
US EPAs e-Manifest system, designed to replace the current multiple-page and signature hard copy system, will begin functioning in the spring of 2016 with full implementation two years later. By the end of the second quarter of 2016, US EPA will propose a user-fee regulation for using the system. Only generators, haulers, disposal facilities and other waste handlers will pay the fee. States and members of the public who access the manifests will not. The goal of the fee will be to fully recover all costs of the e-Manifest system. Learn more at https://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/transportation/manifest/e-man.htm.
US EPA to Write Spill Prevention Rule
US EPA has agreed in a settlement with citizen groups to write a major new chemical plant safety rule. The Natural Resources Defense Council has stated, “The Environmental Protection Agency will put in place new safeguards to help protect communities from dangerous chemical spills at tens of thousands of industrial facilities nationwide, under the terms of a legal settlement approved by a federal district court in New York. The agreement is meant to strengthen protections as called for by Congress more than four decades ago.” Learn more at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2714720-2-16-16-Haz-Mat-Consent-Decree.html.
OSHA Extends Public Comment Period on Guidance for Health Hazards of Chemicals
The approach, known as weight of evidence (WoE), assists manufacturers, importers and employers to evaluate scientific studies on the potential health hazards of a chemical and determine what information must be disclosed on the label and safety data sheet for compliance with the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). To allow stakeholders more time to review and comment, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) extended the public comment period to May 2, 2016, for its draft Guidance on Data Evaluation for Weight of Evidence Determination. Learn more at https://www.osha.gov/weightofevidence/index.html.
OSHA Onsite Consultation Program
Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards and assist in establishing injury- and illness-prevention programs. Onsite consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Visit OSHAs website at https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/consult_directory.html to find your local Onsite Consultation Program office.
Reducing E-Waste through Purchasing Decisions
Purchasing decisions for electronic office equipment, such as computers and printers, often are not made with the equipment end-of-life disposition in mind. Purchasing agents develop technical specifications for office equipment and make final purchasing decisions based on the needs of their users. The end result is that final disposition of this electronic waste, or e-waste, may sometimes be through the trash or through unchecked third-party disposal companies, which increases the potential for contaminants to enter the environment. The most prevalent and widespread barriers to using best management practices for purchasing and recycling of electronics were (1) a lack of awareness around electronics purchasing and recycling certifications and registries, and (2) persistent negative perceptions around electronic certifications and registries. Learn more at www.istc.illinois.edu/info/library_docs/TR/TR061.pdf.
News from the West Coast
by Rita Loof, director of regional environmental affairs
RadTech International North America
RadTech Selected to SCAQMD Committee
RadTech International was honored to have been selected as a member of the newly created “Working Group for Ad Hoc Committee Large Compliance Investments and Future Regulatory Certainty” of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). The association submitted comments stressing incentives for businesses to voluntarily convert to pollution-prevention processes, such as UV/EB. This industry has long advocated for permit streamlining by providing exemptions to UV/EB processes under SCAQMD Rule 219 (Permitting exemptions).
“Certainty is increased by eliminating the uncertainties of the permitting process. Eliminating unnecessary permitting also alleviates the districts permit backlog,” commented Rita Loof, RadTechs director of regional environmental affairs, in a letter to the district.
RadTech also supported the concept of not excluding larger businesses from any incentive, grant or other support program. The association offered to partner with the district in its goal to provide trainings and education, in the context of UV/EB technology. A place was suggested on the districts website for a link to the RadTech website for businesses that want to learn more about the technology.
RadTech expressed concern with language in a document stating:
“…some entities who typically prefer emission control equipment to be mandated.”
The district was cautioned to equitably treat UV/EB (pollution prevention) technologies rather than offer a preference to processes that generate pollution and install add-on emission controls.
SCAQMD Selects Interim Executive
Amid public disruptions by protestors dressed in clown costumes yelling at the monthly meeting, the SCAQMD board voted unanimously to appoint Wayne Nastri as its interim executive officer for a six-month period, pending a search for a permanent candidate. The board approved a yearly salary of $271,000, plus benefits and the use of a district car. The move follows the boards controversial decision to terminate the employment of longtime Executive Officer Barry Wallerstein.
Nastri held the position of administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agencys Pacific Southwest region during President George W. Bushs administration. He was the president of the environmental and energy consulting firm E4 Strategic Solutions, which has represented companies before the SCAQMD. At one point, he served on the SCAQMD board. Environmental groups expressed concern over the hiring of an “industry lobbyist” to serve as the agencys chief. They fear that the decision is a signal that the agency is moving toward a more business-friendly climate. The disruptors were escorted out of the board room by security guards, as it is against California state law to disrupt a public meeting.
State legislators have announced they plan to appoint additional members to the board to avert any potential effort by the SCAQMD to adopt pro-business regulations. The effort to change state law to alter the boards composition is underway.