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July 16, 2013
Foundry enforcement off-base, say Reps.

Current enforcement by EPA’s Region 5 office against foundries for alleged violations of the federal New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) has prompted concerns in the industry and a congressional bipartisan letter of protest to the Agency.  According to Reps. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) and Gary Peters (D-MI), who together spearheaded the letter, Region 5 is erroneously requiring several foundries to be in compliance with 40 CFR Part 60, Subpart UUU, the NSPS applicable to calciners and dryers in mineral industries. 

Foundries perform metal casting, making use of large amounts of sand that is typically reclaimed and reused.  Nationwide, there are about 2,000 foundries that produce critical materials used in over 90 percent of manufactured products, including castings used in the automotive, construction, energy, aerospace, agriculture, plumbing, and national defense sectors.  About 200,000 people are employed by the industry, which has a payroll of more than $8 billion and sales of more than $36 billion annually.

The industry comprises mainly small businesses; approximately 80 percent of domestic metal casters have fewer than 100 employees.

Nonregulated sector?

The letter notes that when the EPA wrote the original Subpart UUU regulations in 1992, foundries were not listed as a regulated industry.  In 2008, the Agency proposed to specifically exempt foundries from the requirements of Subpart UUU.  The proposal indicated that “processes used solely for the reclamation and reuse of industrial sand from metal foundries” shall be exempt from the requirements of Subpart UUU.  The congressional letter goes on to note that in the April 2009 final NSPS the EPA issued for Part 60, Subpart OOO (nonmetallic mineral processing), the proposed revision for Subpart UUU was not included.

“It is our understanding that in subsequent discussions with EPA officials following the decision to take no final action on the exemption for foundries, EPA enforcement officials agreed that the Agency would not initiate enforcement actions against foundries for Subpart UUU requirements and would address the issue with individual facilities at the time of permit renewal,” states the letter.  “As the EPA originally intended to exempt foundries from this regulation, we believe this new enforcement action is misguided.”

The lawmakers also note that while the current enforcement actions are limited to Region 5, they have “significant concerns that enforcement efforts will be expanded to other areas of the country.”

Continuous monitoring system needed

The American Foundry Society (AFS) states that under the Subpart UUU NSPS, a foundry may be forced to spend over $80,000 for a continuous monitoring system and an additional $10,000 annually to service the equipment.  “The regulation is not needed for foundries because other controls are already in place and thermal sand reclamation provides significant environmental benefit,” says the AFS.

Click here for the Fleischmann/Peters letter.

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