A 60-day comment period has begun on proposed federal styrene-emission standards, but already a top industry trade group is warning that the regulation will put some composite fabricators out of business.
The proposed pollution limits on production of reinforced plastic composites were published in the Aug. 2 issue of the Federal Register. The comment deadline is Oct. 1.
The Composites Fabricators Association has gathered operational data from processors and intends to respond to the proposed rule in late September.
Beginning in 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency's Emission Standards Division in Research Triangle Park, N.C., developed the proposal, which calls for maximum-achievable-control technology for styrene and other hazardous air pollutants known to damage human health.
Under those MACT standards, open molders need to use low-polluting resins and nonatomized application technology. Closed molding processors face new limits on the number of open changes for compression molding and engineering requirements, such as closed wet areas for pultrusion operations.
Larger composites manufacturers will need to reduce emissions by 95 percent through the use of add-on controls.
``These requirements are not technically feasible for most composites operations, because of problems associated with capture of the emissions, and are so expensive that they will force many companies to close,'' said John Schweitzer, CFA senior director of government affairs.
``Add-on control systems may make it more difficult for companies to satisfy [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] worker protection requirements, and their use will discourage the development of new pollution-prevention controls that could be used by the entire industry,'' Schweitzer said. ``They also consume large quantities of electricity and natural gas, and emit 30 tons of greenhouse gases for every ton of process emissions controlled.''
Arlington, Va.-based CFA said the proposed rule will not extend to boat building or to coatings or adhesives applied to products after they are removed from the mold.
EPA created the proposal under a mandate in the Clean Air Act's 1990 amendments. EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman signed the proposed rule June 22, and the agency posted the document July 3 on its Web site.
``EPA has made good use of much of the data, analysis and suggested regulatory approaches we have provided,'' CFA President Jonathan Spaulding said in a news release. ``For example, the subcategorization and pollution prevention requirements found in the proposed rule were both outlined in a 1997 industry presentation to EPA.''
A final rule is anticipated in mid-2002, with companies having three years to comply.