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Comments on CFR438

by James N McClatchey <>

(I gave the following statement at the EPA Public Hearing on June 28)

Comments on Metal Products and Machinery Effluent Guidelines Public Hearing - June 28, 1995

My name is James N. McClatchey. I am Vice-President and Production Manager of Southern Aluminum Finishing Company. We have facilities which batch sulfuric acid anodize aluminum on a job shop basis in Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina. We also continuously coil anodize material in a facility in Nashville, Tennessee. As is typical in our industry, these are small facilities and our company wide employment is under 100 people. Like most companies in our industry, we have experience with Part 413, Part 433, and with local limits which are lower than either. At our Charlotte facility, we have lime and settle technology as described in the proposed rule. I am also Chair of a recently formed Effluent Limitations Task Group of the Aluminum Anodizers Council (AAC). The AAC is a group of approximately 45 small to medium size anodizers in the US and Canada. The Task Group was formed to gather data and enter public comments to the proposed rule. Those comments will be submitted later. We strongly urge EPA to extend the comment period an additional 90 days.

The AAC and the anodizing community as whole is extremely concerned about the new effluent limitations as proposed in Part 438. We believe essential parts of these regulations are unclear, parts are unattainable with the lime and settle technology that is the chosen technology for achieving the limits in the rule, and that EPA has failed so far to make a case that that the cost of compliance, at least in the already regulated anodizing indus- try, is justified by the results obtained.

We have only had this rule in our hands for a few weeks, and we are not currently in a position to provide the data to illustrate our position. We have retained legal counsel here in Washington, and we intend to file more detailed comments at a later time. Nevertheless, it is possible to point out some areas in the rule that do not bear up under scrutiny.

1. The unit operations covered by the rule are far too broad. The metal industry is far too diverse in size and type of operation for a "one size fits all" rule to be reasonable. Why should abrasive blasting, anodizing, electrical dis- charge machining, and heat treating, just to name a few, all be regulated under a single rule? The rule preamble contains large sections devoted to EPA's resistance to sub- categorization of this rule. It is not convincing, and serves only the interest of regulators to keep it simple and not the ends of reasonableness or fairness. While we appreciate the attempt to exclude extremely small waste water dischargers, we believe the cutoff of 4000 gal per day is far too low and will impact small metal finishing facilities adversely. This cutoff limit should be adjusted based on unit operation.

2. The economic analysis is flawed. Because of the overly broad scope of the rule, the economic analysis lumps together a disparate group of companies, and fails to detail how this rule will impact particular industries. The economic analysis should at least differentiate between indus- tries that are currently meeting 433 (or 413) as opposed to those who are unregulated. In the anodizing industry in particular, because of the relatively clean nature of our effluent, the imposition of the 438 limits in place of 433 will cost many companies large amounts of money with relatively little reduction in the absolute amounts of effluent metals.

3. This rule is unjust because it is unclear. The rule shows the regulated community only half of the story. This is a mass based rule, but the guidance for determining water use limits is little more than an outline. This guidance should be made more detailed and made part of the rule itself. Here also, there is a problem with the overly broad nature of the rule. Different unit operations will have vastly different waste water production. If the water conservation guidance is to be fair, it must account for the different unit operations. This is a critical area that is manifestly unclear at this point. The problem with leaving this in the guidance and not part of the rule is that States with delegated water programs generally adopt the rule but not the guidance or preamble. We in the regulated community have no way to know the true impact of this rule because the States may make very different interpretations of this guidance or ignore it altogether.

4. In the anodizing industry itself, we have grave concerns about the attainability of the aluminum level of 1.0 ppm. We believe we can gather data to illustrate that even with lime and settle facilities operated at peak efficiency that this limit for aluminum is not consistently attainable in our industry. If aluminum is to become a regulated pollutant, then we believe that EPA needs to do some basic scientific work on the solubility of aluminum in water. This is a very complex subject because of the various forms aluminum can take in water and its amphoteric nature. We believe that aluminum's use as a marker is misguided. We also believe EPA must do more sampling of anodizing facilities in particular. Our understanding is that only one anodizing facility was examined in the monitoring that forms the basis for the rule.

5. Finally we must object in principle to the use of two benign metals, aluminum and iron, as markers for other metals. It is not hard to imagine in areas of the country where production wells are in use, that one may have to treat wastewater simply because the iron content of the incoming well water is higher than allowed by the limits. It violates common sense and will surely lead to unintended consequences to make the two most abundant metallic elements of the earth's crust regulated pollutants. That there are no POTW removal credits available for these elements makes the rule even more untenable.

We hope by the end of the requested 180 day comment period to be able to gather and analyze data which will illustrate these as well as perhaps other areas of concern. We are not prepared today to offer alternative strategies, but we hope to open a constructive dialog with EPA so that the regulatory framework that governs the anodizing industry can be modified substantially from that outlined in this propose rule. Thank you for your time and attention.

James N. McClatchey P.E. Southern Aluminum Finishing Company
1581 Huber St. N.W. Atlanta, Ga. 30318
Aluminum Anodizers Council
1000 N. Rand Road, Suite 214 Wauconda, Il. 60084
James N. McClatchey (Southern Aluminum Finishing Co, Atlanta, GA, USA) Architectural Aluminum. Custom Fabrication. Paint, Powder Coating, Anodizing. Compuserve: 76167,2535 Voice: 404-355-1560 Fax: 404-350-0581

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