March 23 marked the deadline for stakeholders to submit comments about environmental risks and critical applications associated with medium- and long-chain chlorinated paraffins to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Seventeen associations and companies submitted more than two dozen letters, technical reports and environmental studies to EPAs docket in the Federal Register.
Producers and users of MCCPs and LCCPs – including Boeing, Dow and 3M – now await feedback about their comments and EPAs impending ban on manufacture and import of MCCPs and LCCPs that may go into effect as soon as mid-2017.
Holly Alfano, CEO of the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association, told Lube Report, ILMA and several other associations have submitted comments to EPA. We hope that, based on the breadth of comments received from a wide range of stakeholders, EPA will recognize the difficulties with eliminating medium-chain and long-chain chlorinated paraffins from the marketplace, and rethink their position – or at a minimum, allow more time. We have no way of predicting EPAs timing or actions, since its approach has been unprecedented from the beginning.
In ILMAs March 21 letter, Alfano called upon EPA to evaluate MCCPs and LCCPs as existing substances under Section 6 instead of new substances under Section 5 of the Toxic Substances Control Act. She wrote, ILMA consistently has raised its concerns with EPAs treatment of MCCPs and LCCPs as new chemical substances, given the historic and on-going use of the chemicals for decades and the agencys efforts to regulate these materials over the same time. Indeed, EPA previously announced in 2012 its intention to review MCCPs and LCCPs under its TSCA Work Plan that would include an appropriate comment period and independent scientific peer review of the agencys conclusions. The importance of this cannot be understated because of the immense cost associated with a regulatory ban, the difficulties of reformulation and the critical uses for which no replacement exists.
In a prior submission to EPA, ILMA estimated the cost of replacement to metalworking fluid formulators and their customers to be in excess of $69 billion, the letter pointed out.
Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs, and Laurie Holmes, senior director of environmental policy for the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association agreed, saying, Regulation of chlorinated paraffins under Section 5 does not provide for the evaluation of concerns, including economic impact, by downstream users such as motor vehicle suppliers; and, if EPA moves forward with a ban on chlorinated paraffins, EPA should provide the motor vehicle sector with a five-year transition period.
Rob Harris, managing director of the Industrial Fasteners Institute, noted that U.S. fastener manufacturers would need three to five years to validate new metalworking fluids and make any necessary production changes…. Without a reasonable transition time, U.S. manufacturers that use metalworking fluids with MCCPs and LCCPs would be at a severe competitive disadvantage to foreign competitors. In some cases, products would be delayed to critical markets such as automotive, aerospace and defense.
Harris continued, EPA claims that the environmental risk from MCCPs and LCCPs is from releases to the environment. In the case of metalworking fluids used in the fastener industry, we believe there are no such environmental releases because of the proper handling and disposal of such fluids.
Stacy Tatman, director of environmental affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, noted that environmental releases of CPs are already strictly limited. Once a part is machined, the part and any residual oil on it are passed through a washer to clean the part. The spent wash water is piped to an onsite wastewater treatment plant where the oil is removed for offsite used oil recycling, and the treated wastewater is discharged to a publicly owned treatment works, both managed according to applicable local, state and/or federal requirements.
Christina Franz, senior director of regulatory and technical affairs for The American Chemistry Council, wrote on behalf of a coalition of nine trade associations, including ILMA. Overall, the coalition believes that it is completely unnecessary and a serious overstep for EPA to seek the cessation of the manufacture and import of these MCCP and LCCP [premanufacture notice] substances, and by extension, the processing and use of MCCPs and LCCPs in the U.S. Indeed, the complete review of the scientific evidence suggests that EPA has an insufficient legal basis to propose a ban of these substances. MCCPs and LCCPs have been and can continue to be managed by restricting/eliminating existing or future discharge pathways to water using ongoing effective industry practices with discharge restrictions under the existing regulatory framework.
EPAs docket in the Federal Register is EPA-HQ-OPPT-2015-0789, Request for data on Environmental Releases and Waste Management Practices for Processing and Use of Chlorinated Paraffins in Different Industries and for Different Uses to Inform the Risk Assessments for Chlorinated Paraffins Submitted as Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Premanufacture Notices (PMNs). To view the submitted comments, visit the Federal Register dockets submitted comments page.