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The EPA land ban and possible effects on the foundry industry.

Last November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposed rules for "Land Disposal Restrictions for Third Scheduled Wastes," commonly known as the land ban. While foundries had expected that the restrictions would be tough because of the "hard hammer" deadline of May 8, 1990, the treatment standards that appeared in the proposal were not anticipated. The "hard hammer" was a Congressional dictum to halt hazardous waste disposal by that date, even if it would penalize industry because an EPA-approved disposal plan adequate to implement the ban might not be in position. "I think industry was very surprised by the stringent standards," said Peter Aldred. Aldred is vice chairman of the AFS solid waste committee, chairman of the American Cast Metals Association environment committee and an environmental engineer for Intermet Foundries. He noted that some foundries have experienced difficulty in complying with current EP (extraction procedure)-Toxic levels for lead (5.0 mg/1), but said that the proposed standards increased that difficulty by several orders of magnitude. In its regulations, the EPA identified the Best Demonstrated Available Technology (BDAT) for a large number of wastes. The Agency also established a constituent specific, maximum concentration to be allowed in the waste following treatment. For metals such as lead, cadmium, silver, chromium and others, the EPA has announced treatment standards that are below the EPA's characteristic hazardous waste limits. For instance, if a waste leaches lead at a concentration of 5.0 mg/l or more, the waste is classified as EP-Toxic (see Fig. 1). Companies with wastes exceeding that figure would be required to treat the waste to meet the lower standard of 0.51 mg/1--nearly ten times lower than the characteristic level. For cadmium, the EPToxic level is 1 mg/l; the proposed treatment level, 0.14 mg/l. According to Mike Slattery of the AFS solid waste committee and a project manager for RMT, Inc, a Wisconsin-based environmental consulting firm, "With the current standards, it is possible that one foundry with waste that leached lead at 4.0 mg/l prior to treatment could dispose the waste in a nonhazardous industrial landfill. A foundry with waste that leaches 4.0 mg/l after treatment would not be able to dispose the waste in any landfill. The obvious inconsistency in the rules is one point we are questioning." AFS estimates that more than 300,000 tons of potentially EP-Toxic waste generated by foundries will be affected by this proposal. "The land ban is going to have a strong economic impact on foundries," declared Gary Mosher, AFS director of environmental affairs and director of the AFS Lester B. Knight Environmental Services Laboratory. "Obviously, the cost of both treatment and waste disposal will rise. In fact, some foundries have already been informed of price increases in the 30-50% range. There is also a good possibility that some smaller foundries could be forced out of business if the proposed treatment standards are promulgated," he added. AFS, ACMA Meet with EPA

Due to the many concerns regarding the land ban proposal, the AFS solid waste committee, the American Cast Metals Association and several other trade organizations met with the EPA, on Feb 6, 1990. The meeting was held to discuss the proposal and demonstrate that some of the assumptions used to develop the new rules do not apply to foundry wastes. "During the meeting, we asked for a two year capacity variance for foundry wastes," said Aldred. "We also proposed that the current EP-Toxic levels be maintained and during that two years variance, AFS work in conjunction with (the) EPA to develop a treatment standard that is more appropriate for the foundry industry." The disagreement centers on whether more stringent treatment standards, below the characteristic level, are needed.

One of the industry's questions posed to the EPA concerned the treatment levels for off-site treatment facilities. "Most of the meeting attendees were quite surprised when the EPA indicated that all hazardous waste must meet treatment levels, for example: 0.51 mg/l for lead, to be disposed in any landfill," said Slattery. "Many foundries and hazardous waste treatment centers have been assuming that hazardous waste could be treated, and if it did not meet the proposed treatment standards, be disposed in a hazardous waste landfill. According to the EPA, this is not the case," he said. The AFS is attempting to determine if wastes that meet the treatment standards can automatically qualify for nonhazardous landfill disposal or whether there are additional standards to meet. According to Slattery, If the rule stands as written, it raises doubts as to the need for hazardous waste landfills. It also rules out any middle ground; foundries and hazardous waste treatment facilities must meet treatment standards." The agency was asked, if the rules were promulgated but lawsuits were filed, which treatment standard would apply? The EPA stated that whatever treatment standard had been promulgated would remain in effect. They also indicated that if the proposed rules are not promulgated on May 8, 1990, the waste treatment standards will remain at the characteristic level.

The Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) was also discussed, though no promulgation date was set, but it was stated that the organic portion of the rule would be addressed as a separate issue.

Editors note: On Mar 6,1990 the EPA announced that the final TCLP regulations would be published in the Federal Register' during the week of Mar 12. The final rule will add 25 new chemicals and their regulatory but not treatment levels to the toxicity characterisitc list. (See The current list contains 14 chemicals nd includes heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and chromium. "Much to our surprise, phenol was not included in the final TCLP list," said Mosher. It had been included in previous drafts but for some reason was dropped.'

If promulgated on or before May 8, the land ban regulations become effective on that date. Land Ban Proposal Concerns

In addition to their meeting, AFS submitted comments to the EPA regarding those aspects of the proposal that concern the foundry industry.

The EPA's EP-Toxic waste data that the agency used to determine treatment standards does not necessarily apply to foundry wastes. Variability in the waste streams is a key factor that distinguishes foundry wastes from the electroplating and explosive manufacturing wastes that the EPA used as the foundation for the regulations.

"Physically, foundry wastes could be made up of very fine particulate or very coarse materials, or lie somewhere in between. They may have extremely high or low metals content, depending on the scrap that was melted, the melting temperature, processes used and the specifications of the finished products," Slattery explained.

"In our work we have found that, due to this variability, no one treatment method is effective for all wastes. Treatment effectiveness is highly individual from one foundry to another, even if both are gray iron foundries." he said.

Another controversial aspect of the regulations concerns the fact that all grab samples must meet the treatment standards 100% of the time. "In order to meet the standards, foundries would have to overcompensate for the typical variability in the system. That means waste treatment systems will cost more because foundries are going to have to treat their waste at a level to compensate for the worst case scenario," Mosher stated.

Another concern is that while some foundries may be able to meet the letter of the law, the wastes may actually leach more heavy metals. Basically, we contend that a water leaching test more accurately depicts the leaching conditions in a foundry monofill, since these fills are usually nonacidic," Slattery said. "In our lab, we found that while it is possible to add a substantial amount of cement to a waste in order to meet the EPToxic or TCLP treatment requirements, this same waste was shown to leach lead at 26 mg/i in a water leaching test."

"This merely transfers the problem. While it renders the waste non-EP-Toxic, it can actually release constituents, such as lead, at concentrations in excess of hazardous waste limits, under nonacidic leaching conditions," he explained. "With this rule, foundries could be meeting a regulatory requirement and creating a potential environmental hazard." Possible Land Ban Effects

As mentioned earlier, the economic impacts of the land ban will be enormous, but there are other issues of importance to foundries.

"Our biggest concern is what we should be doing now to prepare for May 8,1990," Aldred said. "Will we be expected to be in compliance with the treatment standards? Will there be a time limit to come into compliance? Will states have some latitude in enforcement of the rules?" he asked.

"If we have to be in compliance, we would be in a real bind. There is no way we could have the needed treatability tests performed, a treatment system designed and an operating system in place by May 8," Aldred claimed. A possible option for foundries? Use off-site centers if the capacity exists in the area.

Another option would be for foundries to purchase higher grades of scrap, which are also more expensive. While this may help foundries reduce the level of lead and cadmium in their wastes, the price of domestic castings would be likely to rise.

And, as American foundries turn to higher grades of scrap, the price for lower grades of scrap from shredded automobiles and engine blocks would drop, making this scrap very attractive to overseas foundry operations. By taking advantage of this cheap scrap, the foreign operations may be able to produce castings less expensively than the domestic foundries, giving them an edge in marketing their parts.

Still another effect of the land ban concerns foundries which were developing treatment systems that would render their waste nonhazardous; but, now, the wastes would still have to be managed as hazardous, if the treatment system could not achieve the stricter treatment standards.

"It's impossible to guess the percentage, but I am aware of a number of foundries caught in the net of these regulations," Mosher said. "Some of them have spent thousands of dollars to develop treatment systems, with the plan to pay for them through lower waste disposal costs. If this regulation passes, they will end up either disposing the waste in a hazardous waste landfill, saving no money, or spending more money to develop a more refined treatment system that meets the BDAT treatment standard," he explained. Preparing for the Land Ban

First, it is vital that foundries be aware of the land ban. Smaller foundries with limited or no environmental staff may not yet know of the pending regulations or their potential effects. Mosher suggests that they obtain information from the AFS and other trade organizations to help them understand the rules and the impact they may have on their operations. Knowing the characteristics of their raw materials, processes, wastes and end products is also vital.

"We are recommending that our members look at their processes and raw materials to determine the elements that are generating hazardous contaminates, and determine whether they can modify those processes or substitute materials so they don't generate hazardous wastes. Many foundries will also institute rigorous inspection programs of their scrap and buy a higher grade scrap in order to reduce the amount of lead and cadmium in their waste," Mosher said.

Some foundries may also consider totally enclosed treatment systems. "After a foundry has a treatability study performed, it may be possible to treat the material prior to the point of waste generation. One concept of totally enclosed treatment would be to inject an additive into the ductwork which would reduce the concentration of lead or cadmium in the waste until it is below the characteristic level before it leaves the baghouse, bypassing the land ban and the need to meet the lower treatment standards," Slattery explained.

The land ban is a very complex and multifaceted issue. While it is possible the two-year capacity variance may be granted, foundry managers and operators should not adopt a "wait and see" attitude.

Mosher stated, "It's best that foundries be prepared, look at their operations and determine the steps they may need to take to be in compliance with the land ban."

Foundries that would like additional information about the land ban and its effects on the foundry industry can obtain a free synopsis of the rules by contacting: RMT, Inc, P.O. Box 8923, Madison, Wl 53708; 608/831-4444.
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Author:Bonk, Leslie
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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