Canadian Finishing and Coatings Manufacturing

September 10, 2021

EPA ReleaseThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 (Preliminary Plan 15), announcing that it will commence a rulemaking process to set first-time ever wastewater discharges for PFAS from key industries.

The agency’s announcement was not unexpected, and its effort will focus on chromium plating and related processes in the surface finishing industry as well as certain chemical manufacturers and formulators of PFAS.

The announcement follows extensive discussions between NASF and senior EPA officials since the Trump administration released its PFAS Action Plan in 2019. The plan prioritized surface finishing and other industries for potential water regulation under the Clean Water Act’s effluent guidelines program.

After concluding several studies that EPA launched in 2018, the agency has determined that revised effluent limitations guidelines (ELGs) and pretreatment standards are warranted for:

Organic Chemicals, Plastics and Synthetic Fibers (OCPSF) – EPA listed this category to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) discharges from facilities manufacturing PFAS (which includes chemical formulators in this source category). EPA identified six OCPSF facilities that currently manufacture PFAS in the U.S.

EPA also identified eight additional OCPSF facilities that use PFAS feedstocks to formulate other products. EPA has not developed a comprehensive list of all PFAS manufacturers and formulators in the U.S. and considers it probable that there are many more OCPSF facilities using PFAS that EPA has not yet identified.

Metal Finishing – The agency plans to revise the existing Metal Finishing Effluent Guidelines (40 CFR Part 433) to address PFAS discharges primarily from chromium electroplating facilities, based on the information collected through earlier studies.

NASF has been working closely with EPA officials on various aspects of PFAS use in the industry and will continue to do so through the next stages in the rulemaking development process. To inform the discussion with EPA and various state agencies, NASF has created a web-based PFAS Resource Center.

EPA will initiate a multi-year rulemaking process of collecting data on existing PFAS discharges levels, identifying available treatment technologies for PFAS discharges, and conduct a formal assessment of technical and economic feasibility for available treatment technologies to determine what pretreatment standards may be appropriate.

EPA’s action to advance a rulemaking for the metal finishing category could allow the agency to proceed without an accelerated legislative mandated schedule prescribed by Congress. The House has passed language in the recent infrastructure bill targeting metal finishing and several other sectors for urgent action on PFAS, but the Senate’s measure did not include these provisions.

EPA has not yet announced a timetable for the rulemaking process, and has invited NASF to provide information and further input on the rulemaking development process.

NASF will be meeting again shortly with EPA officials and will provide NASF members with updates on the rulemaking process.

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