Ceramic Industry

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Evaluating New Environmental Regulations

September 1, 2006
In mid-July, the Ceramic Manufacturers Association (CerMA) was made aware of a new draft of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for the clay ceramics manufacturing industry. We obtained a draft of the document, titled "Area Source National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for the Clay Ceramics Manufacturing Industry-Background Information for Proposed Standards." The proposed standards involve the dinnerware, tile, sanitaryware and pottery industries.

The report and recommendations were compiled under contract for the EPA by RTI International of Research Triangle Park, N.C. RTI based its data for the EPA on some 120 ceramic plants, of which at least 34 (28%) are no longer in production. Additionally, the report refers to heavy use of spray technology for glaze application in the tile industry-a practice that is no longer commonplace in that industry segment and hasn't been for many years.

I contacted Bill Neuffer, work assignment manager at the EPA, with our concerns, and a telephone conference was held with Mr. Neuffer and RTI to discuss some of the inaccuracies in the report. Mr. Neuffer was receptive to my comments and to the possibility of meeting with industry association leaders from CerMA, the Tile Council of North America and the Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators. I have held telephone conferences with each of these parties, and CerMA's executive director, Myra Warne, has reviewed the document with these associations as well.

The EPA's assessment of the costs of implementing the new standards are extremely high, but the agency feels it will not place a substantial burden on industry. While the EPA believes that many ceramic operations currently have filter systems in place that will comply with the proposed standards, there will be additional monitoring and reporting costs associated with the standards.

I hope to meet with Mr. Neuffer soon to discuss the impact of these proposed rules on our industry. He indicated that the EPA is hoping to publish the new standards by the end of 2006, and would like to implement the standards by the end of 2007.

CerMA is committed to representing the interests of our industry in Washington. We will update the industry on the status of this issue in the pages of Ceramic Industry and at our technical conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., May 21-23, 2007.

Meanwhile, I suggest that CI readers contact their Congressional representatives about the impact these new regulations will have on our industry. Bill Neuffer at the EPA has also requested input directly from ceramic manufacturers, many of whom have been contacted directly by the EPA.

If you have questions on this matter, please contact Myra Warne at (740) 588-0828 or myrawarne@yahoo.com . She will also be happy to forward the draft regulation document to you via e-mail.

Todd Barson

Chair, Ceramic Manufacturers Association

Technical Sales Manager, Performance Pigments and Colors, Ferro Corp.