EPA issues new emissions rules for PVC production

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WASHINGTON (Feb. 16, 4:25 p.m. ET) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued new emission standards for PVC production that it said will improve air quality and public health near production sites, but also cost an estimated $18 million in capital investment improvements at PVC production sites.

The 17 U.S. facilities that fall under the EPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology regulation will also spend a total of more than $4 million more per year to maintain operations under the new requirements.

The guidelines, issued on Feb. 13, update rules last revised in 2002. The agency hosted two public hearings and a series of studies before launching the changes.

In a fact sheet issued by EPA, the agency said the final rule sets emission limits and work practice standards for total organic air toxins and also for three specific air toxics: vinyl chloride, chlorinated di-benzo dioxins and furans as well as hydrogen chloride. Previously the rule set an emission limit for vinyl chloride only and used that level as a “surrogate” for all other air toxins.

The changes will reduce emissions from major sources by 238 tons of total air toxics, the agency said.

Facilities will have the flexibility to choose the “most practical and cost-effective control technology or technique to reduce the emissions,” the agency said in a Feb. 14 news release.

Ten of the operations affected by the rulings are in Texas and Louisiana with two more in New Jersey and one each in Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Mississippi.

The Vinyl Institute, based in Alexandria, Va., said it is “cautiously optimistic” that the agency considered the full range of data available on PVC production before authorizing the final rules, but noted that EPA has added to the list of emissions the industry must monitor.

VI members spent 18 months and invested “millions of dollars” in benchmarking emissions from vinyl production to use as a basis in updating the MACT rules, the group said in a news release.

“PVC resin manufacturers in the United States have demonstrated their commitment to the environment over the past 20 years by reducing their emissions 80 percent or more even as PVC production increased 77 percent domestically,” said VI President Richard Doyle.

VI will conduct an extensive technical review of the final rule to understand it more fully.