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Casting research, clean air key issues in '90.

When it comes to staying competitive, foundries can look forward to both opportunities and obstacles as the U.S. Congress considers a variety of legislation during the coming year. Among the issues that will be debated during the next session of Congress, that directly affect foundries, is a bill that would create three centers for metalcasting research; a new clean air act; and new hazardous waste disposal restrictions. These issues and others were the subject of this year's Foundry Industry Government Affairs Conference, sponsored by the American Cast Metals Assn, American Foundrymen's Society and Casting industry Suppliers' Assn, held in Washington D.C. March 4-6. Casting Research

A promising piece of legislation currently being considered in Congress this year is the Metal Casting Research Legislation," which was introduced into the House last year by Alabama Democrats Ben Erdreich and Claude Harris as House Bill H.R. 1243. It was later introduced into the Senate as S. 775 by Richard Shelby (D-AL).

The bill would require the Secretary of Energy to designate three Centers for Metal Casting Research on issues related to the technology competitiveness and energy conservation of the U.S. metalcasting industry. The centers would be located in the areas where the metalcasting industry is concentrated.

According to Congressman Erdreich, the U.S. trade deficit with Japan served as an impetus for introducing the bill, citing the lack of capital investment made in the U.S. when compared with Japan over the past decade. "The bill is designed to put more dollars into our companies to maintain our competitive edge, and to upgrade and enhance metalcasting technology," Erdreich told conference attendees.

Co-sponsor of the bill, Congressman Harris, added that "Today, more than ever, research is needed in order to compete in the fierce global marketplace that exists today. This bill will go a long way in fostering cooperation between industry and government to produce better results."

Diana Waterman of Waterman & Associates, a Washington D.C. based lobbying group, told the conference that the bill currently had 111 cosponsors in the House, but is meeting with some resistance in the Senate. She urged metalcasting executives to contact their Congressmen and push for passage of the bill. "Tell them that we're not asking for a handout," she said, "but a government industry partnership." She also praised the foundry industry for its unity of effort in supporting the bill. "This may be the first time this, the sixth largest industry in the U.S., has formed a real coalition to support a legislative effort. All nine trade organizations in the foundry industry have been active in pushing this bill." Clean Air Act

The introduction of a new Clean Air Act has been discussed for several years. But it appears almost certain that 1990 will be the year for its enactment. While a significant portion of the revisions of a bipartisan Senate Clean Air Act Agreement will stress control and reduction of automobile emissions, other provisions, most notably Title 111. Air Toxics, and Title IV. Acid Rain, will directly affect industries like metalcasting.

Generally, the air toxics provision of the proposed Clean Air Act covers routine emissions from major sources. Under the Act, EPA is to develop a list of pollutants and source categories, and determine acceptable levels of risk from each of the pollutants. The pollutants must then be prioritized and control technology selected.

In summary the Senate-Administration agreement contains the following provisions.

The agreement contains a list of approximately 200 hazardous air pollutants taken from the Administration's bill. EPA is to establish a list of source categories (chemical plants, oil refineries, coke ovens, cotton gins, smelters, etc) for the purpose of promulgating standards. Any source emitting any one of the listed pollutants in quantities greater than ten tons or any combination greater than 25 tons is classified as a major source and subject to regulation under the bill. EPA is to revise the list of pollutants from time to time and act upon petitions to add or delete substances from the list.

* For each category of sources, EPA will promulgate a standard which requires the installation of maximum achievable control technology (MACT). Standards are to be promulgated within two, three, five and ten years of date of enactment, depending upon the source category. The standards for approximately a dozen organic solvents are required within two years. Existing sources must comply with MACT standards not later than three years after promulgation. MACT standards are not required for source categories that pose less than a 1 -in- 1,000,000 risk of cancer.

* In addition, if enacted as proposed, the new Clean Air Agreement would also contain provisions for voluntary pollution prevention reduction which would exempt any source from the MACT standards if they achieve an early reduction of 90% below 1985 emissions levels. ACMA on the issues

Following is a brief summary of some of the issues covered in "The 1990 Foundry Industry Legislative and Regulatory Position Paper." A complete copy of the Position Paper is available from the American Cast Metals Assn off ices at the following addresses: ACMA, Government Affairs Headquarters, 455 State St, DesPlaines, IL60016; or the Washington Office, 918 16th St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006. The Environment Foundries support the progress that has been made toward attaining a cleaner environment. However, further environmental legislation must balance results with costs. The continuing drive by federal, state and local governments toward zero-based compliance levels are neither cost effective nor totally realistic. The industry now finds itself ruled by a third and fourth generation environmental standards. These younger generations (of standards) make previous capital expenditures appear minuscule.

Clean Air--Proposed air toxics control legislation would require that both new and existing sources employ "MACT" or Maximum Achievable Control Technology. To comply with MACT, foundries will have to go beyond current emission control levels and invest in process changes, product substitutions, and system enclosures. While MACT may be appropriate for carcinogens it should not be applicable to substances which have thresholds below which there are no adverse health effects. In addition, ACMA asks Congress to arrive at rational, not environmentally hypersensitive, decisions. ACMA urges Congress when voting on a new Clean Air Act to favorably consider these principles: Protect public health while maintaining productive capacity. Recognize that the potential health effects from airborne emissions depend upon the characteristics of the substance, concentration in the ambient air, and exposure. Adopt a technology approach for all significant sources. If there is a binding statutory list of substances or categories to be regulated, EPA should be granted the flexibility to determine the appropriate level of technology based on the degree toxicity.

Solid Waste--ACMA fully supports EPA's efforts to emphasize recycling and recovery of wastes and the establishment within the agency of an Off ice of Waste Minimization. The industry shares the commitment to reuse and recycle since foundries are one of the major recyclers in business today. The bulk of materials melted in foundries consists of spent or discarded products. The industry continues to maintain an active role in promoting constructive reuse of foundry wastes wherever possible. High volume, low hazard waste such as foundry sand should not be subjected to the same stringent controls required for wastes which may cause proven chronic health effects or environmental hazards. Congress, in considering reauthorization of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, should establish a regulatory regimen that encourages, rather than discourages, recycling of material which is environmentally sound.

Clean Water--Foundries have redesigned and upgraded existing treatment facilities or have constructed new treatment facilities to comply with the "Metal Molding and Casting Industry Point Source Category Effluent Limitations" which were designated as the standards for foundries under the Clean Water Act. These standards require a high degree of recycle for contact process waters along with generally lower limits on allowable pollutant discharge. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency is required, every three years, to review the guidelines for effectiveness. Some states have adopted water quality regulations which are more stringent and exceed federally mandated effluent guidelines. Congress should be aware that shifting standards place compliance costs in an at risk" category.

Acid Rain--Energy is a major cost component in the production of foundry products with an estimated 15% of a casting's cost represented by energy. The industry uses about 253 trillion BTU's of energy at a cost of $3.3 billion. Clean air proposals being debated include control measures on sulfur dioxide emissions as related to acid rain. Additional controls on a declining sulfur dioxide emissions rate could result in major utility rate increases for millions of Americans and for industrial users of electricity. Congress should consider the reality of economics and the nation's productive capacity before enactment. The over uncertainty is too large to justify across the board emissions reductions. Safety and Health

The foundry industry remains committed to maintaining safe and healthy workplaces. Money spent on results-oriented health and safety programs are dollars well spent, as they result in accident and injury reductions, lowered private and workers compensation insurance costs, greater worker productivity and improved profitability.

Overall Philosophy--The Occupational Safety and Health Administration should recognize, and acknowledge in its regulatory requirements, the degree of diversity and uniqueness which exists across America's workplaces. By promulgating regulations which allow the maximum flexibility in compliance, OSHA would acknowledge recognition of this diversity without sacrificing worker health or safety.

Standard Setting--The standard setting process should continue to stress that OSHA: 1) Determine and demonstrate proof that a significant risk to employee safety and health exists. 2) Promulgate standards that would substantially mitigate that risk; 3) Base those standards on objective criteria and state them in performance-oriented terms; 4) Accurately assess the cost involved so that standards compliance would not threaten the competitive structure and/or economic health of affected industries. OSHA should not be allowed to rely on the 5(a)(1) general duty clause as a substitute for specific standard promulgation. Compliance officers are citing foundries for ergonomic violations under the 5(a)(1) clause even though no ergonomic or lifting standards exist. OSHA should use 5(a)(1) sparingly, not in lieu of rulemaking. Without such full rulemaking proceedings, industries cannot comment on proposed standards, begin to understand their full ramifications, or undertake education and training of their workers.

Worker Responsibility--Preventing workplace accidents and injuries is a joint employer-employee task. Under current OSHA law, employees are guaranteed a myriad of rights including the right to a safe workplace, the right of protection from reprisal for reporting OSHA violations, the right to access their own medical records and many others. With rights come responsibilities. Issuance of citations, penalties, and directives to employees for workplace safety violations would place more responsibility on them for their own behavior and would bring more equity into enforcement of the Act.
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Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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