EPA Rules to Impact Manufacturers, Utilities

by | Jan 5, 2010

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chemicals2The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two separate actions that could significantly impact several industries including power and water utilities, reports WaterWorld.

The EPA has identified three industries — chemical manufacturing, petroleum and coal products manufacturing (including refineries and not coal mines), and the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution industry — that could face financial assurance requirements to ensure that the owners or operators of the facilities, not taxpayers, will be responsible for cleanups through the Superfund program, reports WaterWorld.

One affect company, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), said that it did not know if the utility’s Kingston ash spill a year ago played a role in EPA’s new ruling to seek financial assurance for cleanups from power plants, coal products and chemical manufacturing facilities.

The EPA also took preliminary steps to set standards by 2013 or ban four types of chemicals over concern about their effect on human health and the environment, reports WaterWorld.

These chemicals include, in addition to phthalates, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and perfluorinated chemicals, including PFOA, which are used in the manufacture of a variety of products.

EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones told WaterWorld at least some of the chemicals could be banned.

This ruling is expected to put a lot of pressure on manufacturers to reduce these chemicals in their products and to  find alternative materials.

WaterWorld reports that PFOA, which has been used widely in carpet making, has been found in the Conasauga River near Dalton, Ga., although carpet makers are phasing out the use of the chemical.

This could cause problems for Dalton Utilities, which for decades has sprayed treated waste onto land on a peninsula surrounded by the Conasauga River, reports WaterWorld. EPA is now testing the utility’s sludge and compost, according to the article.

EPA also recently announced that three U.S. companies agreed to phase out DecaBDE, a widely used fire retardant chemical that may potentially cause cancer and may impact brain function.

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