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Waste problems, solutions aired at AFS Environmental Affairs Conference.

That the 3rd Annual AFS Environmental Affairs Conference was the biggest of the three successive such meetings underscores the intense interest in the growing problems waste disposal restrictions pose for U.S. foundries.

In his keynote speech to the more than 300 attendees, Richard Caister, facilities development vice president for intermet Foundries, inc, sounded the general concern voiced by the conferees that environmental protection regulations are far more complex and extensive than most industry experts had expected. He said that solutions to waste problems are a matter of survival for many foundries.

He reported that the foundry industry has been impacted heavily by environmental regulations and has reacted responsibly to meet its obligations. But, he said, the industry must let legislators know what waste recovery efforts are reasonable and attainable for foundries as the regulators continue to press toward zero discharge.

Jim Sparks, vice president, Ashland Chemical Co/Foundry Products Div, said that a critical need exists to inform the public of the considerable expenditures and research the foundry industry has been making to assure its compliance with the many, often confusing and contradictory rules and regulations of local, state and federal environmental protection agencies.

"The public needs to know that its safety and well-being is paramount, and it won't know until we meet all requirements and let the public know what and how we're doing," Sparks said.

Steven Smith, vice president of Alamo Iron Works, spoke of the potential liabilities involved in moving from or purchasing a foundry site. He said it is important to investigate what you leave behind and intend to buy for the potential for waste disposal deficiencies or site contamination. He cited the long term financial responsibilities that may ensue should environmental violations be discovered. His advice? Know and pay attention to all certifying agencies' guidelines, and don't be afraid to ask for help.

William Harnett of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Congress appears interested in the retraining of workers displaced as the result of clean air/water legislation, allowing industries more reasonable time frames to reach environmental compliance and seeking more mandated environmental control requirements. His assessment was that Congress is moving away from the onesize-fits-all remedies toward recognizing the reality that all waste problems and pollution sources do not apply across all industries. Liability

Exchanging pin stripes for prison stripes is an increasing possibility for company executives who ignore pollution control regulations, said Russell Frye, a partner in the law firm of Chadbourne and Park. He noted that many environmental infractions, once considered misdemeanors, have been upgraded now to felonies. Fines have increased 20 fold in the last five years and increasing numbers of executives have been sentenced to jail time for their companies'pollution violations. Regulators are going after company decision makers, and Congress will make it easier to prosecute them if it passes the proposed Pollution Prevention Act and the Environmental Crimes Act.

Stiffer criminal penalties are aimed at company officials who make false statements, put employees at risk, ignore environmental obligations or who fail to comply with environmental orders. Frye counseled that managers act quickly on dangers or violations, establish clear lines of authority and keep accurate records.

Similarly, Kurt Stimpson, project director for Roy F. Weston, Inc, said that environmental documentation already is an absolute necessity for owners, lenders, operators and insurers in the event of litigation. The "innocent landowner" defense may mitigate liability, but it can be no guarantee in the event that a plant operation defaults on its waste management obligations or a property is found to be contaminated.

Luncheon speaker Don Walgren, recycling vice president for Waste Management of North America, Inc, listed three errors some foundries make in addressing the environmental problems that put them at risk. They try to be invisible to regulators and regulation; they circle the wagons and adopt a them-us'attitude or they complain that regulators won't listen to them.

Throughout the conference, experts in the environmental and waste management fields presented examples of what foundrymen should be doing to comply with all federal, state and local environmental regulations concerning people, products, processes and physical plants. They showed ample evidence to illustrate the strength of the pollution control sentiment in the country and how it is reflected in the courts and in the increasing number of statutes ostensibly enacted to preserve the environment.
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Title Annotation:American Foundrymen's Society
Author:Bex, Tom
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Oct 1, 1990
Previous Article:Cast metals bill could pave way for increasing foundry research.
Next Article:AFS Art Casting IV highlights improving operations, service.

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