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The EPA releases proposed Clean Air/Clean Water Act standards for pulp and paper industry.

An advance copy of a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the new Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act standards for the pulp and paper industry has been released. Contained within the 600 page proposed rule are provisions that specifically impact the nonwovens industry.

The EPA will be accepting public comment on this proposal for 90 days and INDA has circulated copies of the relevant portions to its members to determine whether comments should be filed on behalf of our industry.

INDA has been following this issue for more than a year (see NONWOVENS INDUSTRY, April, 1993), and has attended several public meetings during which portions of this proposal were outlined in general terms. As released, however, the proposed rule is different--in regard to nonwovens--than the portions that had been distributed during EPA healings.

Proposed Rule: A Summary

This proposed rule represents the EPA's first ever attempt to coordinate Clean Air and Clean Water standards for a specific industry. While the bulk of the proposed rule addresses new standards for pulp processors--and calls for significant restrictions on use of chlorine bleaching techniques--the EPA is also tightening standards for various "subcategories" within the pulp and paper industry.

Nonwovens are one of these subcategories. In fact, the EPA currently classifies nonwovens as "Non-Integrated Filter and Non-Woven Papers" (40 CFR 430.250, Subpart Y) with the proposed rule revising this subcategorization to "Tissue, Filter, Non-Woven and Paperboard from Purchased Pulp" (proposed 40 CFR 430.120, Subpart L). Purchased pulp is defined under the proposal as "pulp purchased from an off-site facility or obtained from an intra-company transfer from another site."

In addition, the EPA has proposed that a distinction be made between "continuous dischargers" (producers that discharge wastewater without interruption throughout the operating hours of the facility) and "non-continuous dischargers" (producers that discharge wastewater stored for periods of at least 24 hours and released on a batch basis). Discharge standards would be different for the two types of operations.

New Water Standards

Fortunately, the proposed rule does not include any changes to existing air standards for nonwoven producers, but new water standards are included.

Basically, the proposed rule would tighten existing standards for discharge levels of "biochemical oxygen demanding pollutants" (BOD5) and "total suspended solids" (TSS) generated by nonwoven producers who use "purchased pulp." The new standards are based on discharge levels of currently operating facilities and are calculated so that they reflect the average levels for the best 50% of the mills operating within the nonwovens subcategory.

How stringent are these proposed standards? Basically, existing mills would have to limit discharge of BOD5 to 2.96 kg per day and maintain a monthly average of no more than 0.974 kg. Facilities would also have to limit TSS discharges to 5.32 kg per day, with a monthly average of no more than 1.73 kg. Noncontinuous dischargers would be allowed an annual average of 0.629 kg of BOD5 and 1.29 kg of TSS.

These levels can be compared with currently allowable BOD5 discharge rates of up to 29.6 kg per day, with a monthly average of 16.3 kg and TSS limits of 26.6 kg per day, with a 13.0 kg per month average.

For new facilities, the proposed rule would limit daily discharge of BOD5 to 0.983 kg, with a monthly average of 0.363 kg for continuous dischargers. TSS discharges by new facilities could not exceed 0.563 kg per day or 0.221 kg on a monthly average basis. New facilities that are non-continuous dischargers would be limited to annual averages of 0.248 kg for BOD5 and 0.175 for TSS.

In addition, in the advance copy of the proposed rule obtained by INDA, the EPA has "reserved" its ability to alter effluent limitation standards for toxic substances. While current regulations list allowable discharge levels of pentachlorophenol and trichlorophenol, the advance copy of the proposed rule simply notes that the EPA is "reserving" standards for toxic pollutants.

While the proposal tightens some standards for nonwovens producers, it is far more stringent in regard to pulp processors. In fact, the EPA estimates that the industry compliance cost for this proposed rule to be implemented by the entire pulp and paper industry will be about $600 million--in 1992 dollars--and the total "social cost" (including such things as $25 million in "worker displacement costs") will be $948 million.

The EPA compares these costs to the estimated air and water benefits (such as increases in productivity, enhanced product quality and improved plant equipment throughout the chemical pulping and bleaching segments of the industry) that range from $160.4 million to $986.6 million, but notes that it is difficult to put the proposal's benefits "in terms of dollars."

Public Comments Sought

As this article was going to press, the EPA was anticipating that the notice of the proposed rulemaking would appear in the Federal Register within the next week. The EPA will allow 90 days for public comment following publication of the notice.

INDA is considering whether it should file comments on behalf of the nonwovens industry and is seeking input from its members. We have, therefore, asked that our members circulate the proposed rule to have the appropriate persons within their organizations review it.

Initial response has been mixed. While several INDA members have said that the proposed water standards for nonwovens are obtainable, others are still trying to determine how the proposal would impact them directly. INDA expects to collect all comments from its members within the next 30 days.

Peter Mayberry is the director of government affairs for INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. He works out of the Washington D.C. offices of Keller & Heckman, INDA's legal counsel. This column appears monthly in NONWOVENS INDUSTRY.
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Title Annotation:Capital Comments
Author:Mayberry, Peter
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Jan 1, 1994
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