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An Open Letter to the Members of AAC, from AAC, June 14


Dear Member,
On May 30, the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) published proposed Effluent Limitations Guidelines, Pretreatment Standards, and New Source Performance Standards; Metal Products and Machinery (40 CFR Part 438). In addition to substantially lowering allowable discharge limits for traditional regulated pollutants such as Chromium, Copper, Nickel, and Zinc; it also for the first time attempts to limit discharge of aluminum and iron.

As an anodizer you will be required to comply with these standards. There is a temporary exclusion from the rules for existing indirect discharging job shops. This exclusion is expected to be removed when Phase 2 of these rules is issued in 1997. Once finalized, it will be next to impossible to change these effluent guidelines. The anodizing industry must act now to avoid adoption of these severe limits. For comparison purposes, the following chart provides a listing of current and proposed changes on EPA's categorical Pretreatment Standards.

Comparison of EPA Categorical Pretreatment Standards:
All numbers except pH are in ppm (mg/L)
Element    PART 413         PART 433        PART 438 (Proposed) 
         Daily    Avg    Daily     Avg      Daily      Avg
Aluminum  Not regulated   Not regulated      1.4       1.0 
Cadmium   1.2     0.7     0.69     0.26      0.7       0.3 
Chromium  7.0     4.0     2.77     1.71      0.3       0.2 
Copper    4.5     2.7     3.38     2.07      1.3       0.6 
Iron      Not regulated   Not regulated      2.4       1.3 
Lead      0.6     0.4     0.69     0.43      Not regulated 
Nickel    4.1     2.6     3.98     2.38      1.1       0.5 
Silver                    0.43     0.24 
Zinc      4.2     2.6     2.61     1.48      0.8       0.4
Cyanide   1.9     1.0     1.20     0.65      0.03      0.02 
Oil & Grease;                                 35        17 
TSS                                           73        36 
pH                                               (6-9) 
TTO                       2.13
In order to comply, most anodizers will be required to invest thousands if not millions of dollars in new equipment to treat waste water prior to discharge. In addition, operating costs for this equipment will add substantially to overall costs. For those companies who already have pretreatment equipment, these new limits may be unattainable.

The EPA is soliciting comments and data from industry groups affected by these changes, as well as environmental groups and state and local governments that may be affected. The environmental groups are well financed and organized. Indeed, the reason EPA undertook to issue these new regulations was a consent decree that arose out of litigation against EPA by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The metal finishing sub-committee of the Common Sense Initiative is stacked with government and environmental representatives. Our side is not being heard. In fact, EPA has said that only one anodizer was included in its study for this rule.

The Aluminum Anodizers Council has determined to take strong action. The AAC Board of Directors on June 9 appointed a special task group to address this issue. On June 13, the Board retained the firm of Kilpatrick & Cody, a Washington, D.C. law firm experienced in these matters, to seek withdrawal of the rule or severe modification to its contents. The response to EPA must be completed by August 28. Time is short.

The AAC needs your immediate help in two ways. First, you will be receiving a questionnaire next week asking for data on your operations. Getting substantial and accurate data into the record is essential if we expect EPA to change its direction.

Second, each AAC firm and supplier member is being asked to commit to a contribution of $2000 to fund this effort. Larger firms are being asked to consider contributing substantially more. AAC requires commitments totaling $60000 if it is to proceed. This money will go predominately to Kilpatrick & Cody to gather data and organize the legal and technical arguments that will be needed. Non-U.S. members of AAC are being asked to contribute US $500 to this effort. This effort will not go forward unless we receive commitments for the necessary funds by June 23. The Staff at AAC has been authorized to negotiate extended payment terms for those firms that need more time to pay this amount.

For some companies this may seem a large amount. Yet compared to the cost of the extensive waste treatment that will be needed, this is not very much at all. The cost simply to transport and landfill the sludge produced from even a small operation producing 10000 gal of wastewater a day approaches $2000 per month. Full costs of equipment, labor, and waste disposal for a 10000 gal per day facility are estimated at $7000 per month. Some of the most serious concerns have been voiced by those companies that already have treatment facilities. They know how costly it will be to reach these unrealistic numbers.

Enclosed is a commitment form to return to the Council. It is important we receive a response from each member. We will also be soliciting moneys from anodizers who are not AAC members. Everyone will be asked to contribute something, but AAC must take the lead. Our industry is at a regulatory crossroads. For once, we have a chance to influence rules before they become final. Given a strong showing on our part, we have an excellent chance of forcing withdrawal or substantial change to this proposed rule. Lacking the proper will or resources on our part, these rules will become final, and we will live with them for many years to come.

The issue is quite detailed and complex. If you have any questions on its merits and contents, I'd be pleased to provide a copy of the proposed rule as released in the May 30 Federal Register. Members of the AAC task force are also available to answer questions.

Please return the commitment form as soon as possible. We cannot proceed without your help. If you decide not to be a part of this effort, please so indicate.

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