N.Y. codes council reviews plastic pipe
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York regulators say they may allow plastic pipe to be used for potable water in some residential buildings and for storm, subsoil and underground sanitary drains — a significant regulatory change.
The New York State Fire Prevention and Building Codes Advisory Council held hearings in March and is set to make a decision at a June 16 meeting. But the change is opposed by some trade unions, plastics officials said.
The joint state government unit of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc./American Plastics Council and the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association have testified in support of the changes.
Jeff Risley, managing director of Glen Ellyn, Ill.-based PPFA, said he is not sure how the council would vote, but ``all the work we've done with this over the last couple years is pointing in the right direction.'' The advisory council makes a recommendation to New York officials, but its decision will be key, he said.
Specifically, the change would allow chlorinated PVC and cross-linked polyethylene pipe in one-and two-family dwellings for potable water, plastic drain, waste and vent pipe for underground vents and storm drainage, and vinyl leaders and gutters. PVC and PE pipe could be used in subsoil and sanitary drains.
A separate measure pushed by Gov. George Pataki could have a much broader impact on plastic pipe, but it is in its early stages, Risley said. Pataki wants the state to adopt one of several model building codes that would favor or hurt plastics, depending on the code chosen, Risley said.
Tenn. firms launch state trade group
GALLATIN, TENN. — About a dozen Tennessee plastics companies have formed a loose state trade association that they hope will get mold-lien legislation passed this year.
The Tennessee Plastics Industry Council is in its early stages, but it also hopes to give state officials detailed recommendations on dealing with worker training and worker shortage problems, said Jay Cude, president of injection molder PolyTen Plastics LLC in Gallatin and chairman of TPIC.
Those recommendations will emphasize using the worker certification program developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., Cude said. The council is affiliated with SPI and the American Plastics Council, both of Washington.
``The plastics industry in Tennessee has grown drastically in the last 10 years, driven as much as anything by the influx of the automotive business,'' Cude said. The industry now shows up ``on the radar screen'' of economic development officials, he said.
Foes seek to derail reform legislation
WASHINGTON — Support for big changes in how railroads are regulated is growing in Congress, but legislation is not likely to pass this year, according to a key senator who spoke at a recent forum for shippers.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said legislation pushed by him and other advocates of dramatic changes at the Surface Transportation Board is not likely to pass. Dorgan spoke at a March 17 forum in Washington organized in part by the Alliance for Rail Competition and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
Dorgan and a few other senators are pushing legislation favorable to shippers, but are opposed by the leadership in the Senate, including Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.
Shipper lobbyists are looking for allies in the House, but acknowledge that powerful Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bud Schuster, R-Pa., opposes major changes.
Several plastic resin manufacturers at the March 17 event said in interviews that rail service has improved significantly in the Gulf Coast.
But Solvay Polymers Inc. in Houston said transit times remain 30 percent above 1995 levels, before Union Pacific Railroad Co. merged with Southern Pacific Railroad. A Dow Chemical Co. official said transit times are normal, but said it will take another six months to untangle the mess and get its rail cars in the right position.
PVC faces phaseout fro San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution March 22 aimed at cutting dioxin by phasing out PVC plastics and other products. The city joined Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., in searching for ways to reduce dioxin.
The San Francisco measure, described by industry officials as the toughest, requires the city and county to look for chlorine-free paper and non-PVC plastic, and urges health-care providers to reduce PVC use. Local governments are forming a task force to reduce dioxins, including those produced by burning or manufacturing chlorinated products.
San Francisco said dioxin must be reduced because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the lifetime exposure to contracting cancer from dioxin is above safe levels.
Kip Howlett, executive director of the Chlorine Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va., said California state air regulators found that 5 grams of dioxin were emitted in the San Francisco Bay area annually, and that 3 grams came from diesel engines, 1 gram from residential fireplaces and 1 gram from industrial sources.
The U.S. EPA estimates 5,000 grams of dioxin are emitted nationally, but also tracks more sources of emission than those measured by California.
CCC said switching from PVC medical products will endanger patients and chlorine-free paper destroys more natural resources because it uses 10 percent more paper fiber.