NTTC Briefing Covers Information On Proposed EPA Effluent Rules

Nov. 1, 1998
Proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effluent guidelines for tank cleaning facilities are under scrutiny by the tank truck industry, and members

Proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effluent guidelines for tank cleaning facilities are under scrutiny by the tank truck industry, and members are attempting to ensure that compliance costs and competitive disadvantages will be lessened when the proposals are implemented.

The National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) provided an industry briefing September 9 in Baltimore that preceded further industry comments to EPA in the continuing negotiation process. Rules are expected to go into effect in June 2000.

The EPA proposal addresses existing and new chemical and foodgrade cleaning racks that discharge wastewater into lakes, rivers, or streams (direct), or to publicly owned treatment works (indirect).

Wash racks that send wastewater to industrial treatment facilities and those that are dedicated to petroleum products and dry bulkers are exempt. Rail and barge are subject to lower effluent limitations than are tank trucks.

"It's clearly a problem," said Jack Waggener, an NTTC consultant who is leading the association team in negotiations with EPA. "You have a proposed regulation that is supported by two or three data points. We aren't opposed to the philosophy, but we don't think the rule will work."

IBC Exemption Because intermediate bulk containers (IBC) also are exempt in the proposal, carriers are alarmed that the growing competitive industry will benefit from the regulation and the tank truck industry will suffer.

"The tote industry is growing," said Charles Verna of Brite-Sol Services. "It's going to explode. Some companies may switch to IBCs to avoid the regulations. It's a whole new industry."

In addition to unfair competition, the tank truck industry fears excessive costs that will result from compliance requirements. The EPA estimates that implementation of the rules will cost the industry approximately $58 million. Another estimate predicts individual tank cleaning costs would rise an additional $16.

"The estimate is $300,000 per facility for an upgrade," said Ed Matlage, director of environmental affairs for Miller Transporters Inc and NTTC Tank Cleaning Council Chairman. "And that's not an out-and-out replacement."

EPA Calculation The EPA calculates there are 14 direct discharge and 327 indirect discharge facilities that will be affected by the rule, according to John Tinger, civil engineer with EPA's engineering and analysis division. EPA inspected five cleaning facilities and used information from two of them in its considerations.

In addition, he said that some of the data was based on 1982 information taken as a result of the Clean Water Act. "Yes, some of our data is old," he said. But, he added, the EPA will use other facilities for evaluation if companies volunteer for the project.

The rules under consideration do not require the installation of any specific wastewater treatment system, only that the facility comply with the effluent limitations or pretreatment standards as established.

"We are requesting data on systems achieving effective treatment at lower cost than the proposed option," Tinger said. "You can expect a notice of data availability in May 1999. Additional information will have been gathered and people will be given another opportunity to comment."

Cliff Harvison, NTTC president, pointed out that EPA regulations encourage local entities to beef up their standards. "You aren't going to find any relief in the courthouse," he said.

Municipal Water Matlage pointed out that municipal water coming into tank wash facilities contains zinc. "It's one part per million in city water. That will have to be removed, too."

He also pointed out that pesticide and herbicide were catalysts for the EPA proposal. "That seems to be the one singular subject that's thrown us into it. Why not exclude facilities that do not clean tanks that carry pesticides?"

Tinger agreed that pesticides and herbicides are major considerations. "We have gotten comments on this and are looking at it," he said.

John McKee of Brite-Sol said the industry has addressed pollution issues and has raised its standards. "The tank cleaning industry has matured over the past few years since this EPA study was conducted."

The NTTC is working toward establishing a level playing field for the various equipment cleaning facilities, reducing some of the technology bases, and increasing the allowable flow by which the base standard is set, Waggener said.

And, he added, the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration have disagreed with the EPA proposal. "We're not alone in our fight," he said.

He pointed out that there are other exceptions. Interior cleaning wastewater generated at some industrial facilities regulated under other Clean Water Act effluent guidelines are excepted. However, the facility must clean only tanks containing cargoes that have been generated at or used on site, or that have been generated at or used by a facility under the same corporate structure. Tinger gave as examples pulp and paper mills, chemical manufacturing plants, and dairy farms.

EPA has determined that transportation equipment cleaning facilities are a potential contributor of pollutants to the nation's waterways. The agency argues that industry compliance with the rule would reduce the discharge of certain pollutants by at least 100,000 pounds per year.