January 7, 2013 - Clean Air Council Granted Leave to Intervene in Chrome Electroplating and Anodizing Litigation

On January 7, 2013, the Clean Air Council was granted leave to intervene in a lawsuit brought by an industry trade group attempting to weaken EPA standards for hazardous air pollution emitted by chrome electroplating and anodizing facilities. 

Products made by chrome electroplating and anodizing facilities range from decorative car trim, metal furniture, and plumbing fixtures, to cylinders, engine components, and aircraft parts.  There are about 1,300 facilities located around the United States currently subject to EPA‘s standards.  A number of these facilities are located in the city of Philadelphia, particularly in low-income areas, which makes the regulation of these facilities an environmental justice issue.

These sources emit significant amounts of highly toxic hexavalent chromium and also use wetting agent fume suppressants that contain the harmful chemical perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). Hexavalent chromium, a known human carcinogen, also causes respiratory, reproductive, and development harm.  In addition, research has shown that PFOS compounds are persistent, bioaccumulative pollutants that create a particular concern for children‘s health, and there are effective substitutes of fume suppressants without such compounds currently in use.

On September 19, 2012, the EPA promulgated “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutant Emissions: Hard and Decorative Chromium Electroplating and Chromium Anodizing Tanks; and Steel Pickling—HCl Process Facilities and Hydrochloric Acid Regeneration Plants; Final Rules,” published at 77 Fed. Reg. 58,220 (Sept. 19, 2012) (“Final Rule”). The Final Rule amends the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, namely for hexavalent chromium, from chromium electroplating and anodizing facilities. In the Final Rule for chrome plating, EPA promulgated new emission standards to require a reduction of 224 pounds per year of hexavalent chromium, beyond what the prior standards allowed.  EPA also set standards that prohibit the use of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid-based fume suppressants.  EPA expects that the Final Rule will provide public health benefits, including reductions in cancer and non-cancer health risks.

On November 19, 2012, the National Association for Surface Finishing, Inc., an industry trade group, petitioned EPA for review of the Final Rule. Nat’l Assoc. for Surface Finishing, Inc. v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, Case No. 12-1459, which is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The industry’s petition is aimed to persuade EPA to weaken and stay the rule. The Clean Air Council seeks to support those portions of EPA's regulations that protect human health and the environment. 

Please direct any questions to Tom Duncan at tduncan@cleanair.org or 215-567-4004 x103.

Motion to Intervene.pdf186.79 KB
Order Granting Motion to Intervene.pdf54.06 KB