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There's good news and bad news in the Federal Clean Air Act: the new federal law requires fabric filtration devices, but some nonwovens manufacturers may have to comply to the more stringent regulations themselves.

There's Good News and Bad News In The Federal Clean Air Act

the new federal law requires fabric filtration devices, but some nonwovens manufacturers may have to comply to the more stringent regulations themselves The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing clean air regulations that could impact the nonwovens industry in several ways. These regulations are required under provisions of the Federal Clean Air Act signed into law late last year by President Bush.

As with most legislation, the new law has provisions that must be implemented through regulations drafted by various federal government agencies. With this particular bill, the EPA has been granted authority over those provisions that will have at least an indirect impact on the nonwovens industry. Several of these provisions may not be fully implemented until the turn of the century, however.

Who Are RACT and MACT?

For instance, the bill has several complicated sections that require that facilities of certain manufacturing industries incorporate filtration techniques to reduce the pollution in their emissions. Depending on the type of the facility, its location and its emissions, the law may require that it adopt either enhanced Reasonably Available Control Technologies (RACT) or Maximum Achievable Control Technologies (MACT).

As the names imply, MACT standards are intended to be more extensive than RACT standards and will be required for operators whose emissions produce any of 189 hazardous substances identified by EPA. Included on the list are "pollutants" such as benzene, chlorine, methanol and vinyl acetate.

These MACT standards offer good news and bad news for the nonwovens industry. On one hand, the new standards may require that a number of manufacturing facilities either retrofit or upgrade filtration devices that rely on fabric filters. On the other hand, EPA has already listed rayon production, fabric printing, fabric coating and paper coating as industries that could be subject to the stringent new standards. Also listed are municipal solid waste incinerators.

The specific industries that will be required to implement MACT standards have yet to be determined. Instead, the law requires that EPA develop a list of "source categories"--manufacturers whose processes produce emissions of the hazardous substances already identified by EPA--by November, 1991. EPA must then establish priorities for regulating these manufacturers over a 10 year period, with 40 source categories identified and regulated by Nov. 15, 1992. Priorities will be established based on factors such as the number of manufacturers in each source category, the amount of hazardous materials they emit and their geographic location.

City Waste Combusters

In a related issue, as an outgrowth of the Clean Air Act, published reports from Washington, D.C. indicate that EPA will likely require owners of existing city waste combusters to install fabric filters to reduce their emissions.

According to EPA officials cited in these reports, fabric filters for solid waste combusters serve as a MACT standard for reducing emissions of, among other things, acid gases, dioxins, fine particulate matter and furans.

Furthermore, according to these same EPA officials, such a requirement would force more than two-thirds of all existing city waste combusters to adopt fabric filters for their facilities. Perhaps more importantly, however, construction of any new municipal incinerators would likely have to incorporate fabric filter technology if this proposal is eventually adopted. This should help to ensure a need for fabric filters for the foreseeable future.

Other Incinerators

The Clean Air Act also has a section detailing new performance standards for solid waste incinerators in general. These new standards will apply to "any facility which combusts any solid waste material from commercial or industrial establishments or the general public." Included under this definition are single and multiple residences, hotels and motels, etc.

Furthermore, if EPA chooses, the law allows it to also apply these new performance standards to incinerators that handle hospital and medical waste.

These performance standards are extensive. Not only will they require a "maximum degree" reduction of emissions of numerous substances, they also will force incinerator owners to closely monitor compliance with the requirements and to implement state-developed training and certification requirements for incinerator operators. These requirements will be immediately placed on new facilities (as of June, 1991) and on existing facilities as soon as possible, but no later than November, 1995.

In addition, by late 1993 all incinerators will have to comply with new permit requirements contained in the law. Without a permit an incinerator cannot continue operations. Permits are to be granted by the state in which the facility is operated and are to be based on programs and conditions acceptable to the federal government. These operating permits will be issued for a period of up to 12 years, but must be reviewed every five years.

The law allows either the state or the federal government to revoke a permit if either determines that a facility is not in compliance with provisions and conditions contained in the permit requirement program for the state in which the plant is operating. This will make it easier for either the state of the federal government to stop an incinerator's operations.

The Next Steps

EPA is in the process of drafting rules to implement the sections of the new law of interest in INDA. Several of the more important regulations are expected by the end of this year and should initially be released in draft form for public comment.

Once these draft regulations have been released, INDA will review them to determine what changes, if any, should be incorporated and whether comments should be filed on behalf of the nonwovens industry.

INDA has been in contact with EPA officials, the National Solid Waste Management Association and several other organizations and individuals who are either responsible for drafting the new regulations or are directly affected by the provisions contained in the law. These interested parties have contributed to INDA's understanding of the new law and will be counted on to review EPA draft regulations as they are released.

Peter Mayberry is the director of government affairs for INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. He works out of the Washington, D.C. ofices of Keller & Heckman, INDA's legal counsel. This Capital Comments column appears monthly in NONWOVENS INDUSTRY.
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Title Annotation:Capital Comments; Reasonably Available Control Technologies, Maximum Achievable Control Technologies
Author:Mayberry, Peter
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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