NASF Report May 2016: The Surface Technology Environmental Resource Center

NASF and its foundation partner with National Center for Manufacturing Science to better coordinate regulatory and ethical guidance for finishers.


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The Surface Technology Environmental Resource Center

NASF and its training arm, the AESF Foundation, have recently launched with the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) a new partnership to upgrade, expand and give a face lift to current web-based regulatory compliance and technical resources for the surface finishing industry. The new site will get a partial debut in the coming months as the Surface Technology Environmental Resource Center.

The effort will give NASF members seamless access to an improved, better organized and topically searchable website. It will benefit both entities by integrating regulatory developments, current and historical technical content, web visibility and industry education. Some noticeable changes will be in place by NASF’s Sur/Fin in June. Other improvements will take place through the end of 2017.

“Our aim in the partnership is to create a better venue for companies to get usable technical information, tools and updates that can improve their performance,” says Fred Mueller, president of the AESF Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

The current platform—the National Metal Finishing Resource Center (NMFRC) was established in 1995 by NCMS under a program jointly funded by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The industry partners included the three organizations that later merged to form the NASF and its Training Foundation—the American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Society (AESF), the National Association of Metal Finishers (NAMF), and the Metal Finishers’ Suppliers Association (MFSA).

EPA continues to provide some federal funding for NMFRC, but funding has declined in recent years. As a result, NASF and the Foundation have pledged two years of support, during which the NMFRC will undergo a major renovation, including co-branding with NASF and upgrading its resources.

“The industry has played a major leadership role over the years in working with EPA and other agencies within North America and beyond—we knew it was time to reinvigorate the current resource center, take it to the next level and benefit our members and the industry,” says NASF President Erik Weyls.

The current NMFRC provides environmental regulatory assistance to the finishing industry. The focus is on all environmental media (air, water, waste) and NMFRC covers both federal and individual state statutes and regulations. It also provides extensive information on pollution prevention and best management practices.

The majority of the website is open to the public and free to access. The NMFRC library and a few other tools require a subscription.


 

EPA’s Next Generation Compliance Initiative

EPA is implementing a modern approach to compliance, using new tools and approaches to strengthen enforcement of environmental laws. “Next Generation Compliance,” or “NextGen,” is the EPA initiative to increase compliance with environmental regulations through the use of pollution monitoring and information technology and improvements in the design of permits and regulations.

The strategy consists of five components designed to improve the effectiveness of the agency’s compliance program:

  • Design easier-to-implement regulations and permits, with a goal of improved compliance and environmental outcomes;
  • Advance emissions/pollutant detection technology so that regulated entities, the government and the public can more easily see pollutant discharges, environmental conditions and noncompliance;
  • Electronic environmental reporting for more accurate, complete and efficient and transparent reporting
  • Expanded transparency by making information more accessible to the public; and
  • Innovative enforcement approaches (e.g., data analytics and targeting) to achieve more widespread compliance.

 

EPA will work to integrate the use of modern compliance tools into future settlements, such as building electronic recording into consent decrees and administrative settlements. The NextGen concept is not code for some new enforcement activity, but rather it means taking tools like advanced monitoring, electronic recording, and transparency, and trying to build that into settlements as a better way of doing business.

Rather than rely only on sampling and shipping results off to the lab and having it come back three weeks later to see what you have, with the use of new technology (such as smart phones) the data can be available in real time.

While the focus of NextGen has been on civil enforcement mechanism, it is equally applicable to both civil and criminal actions. In addition, the NextGen approach can apply broadly across a variety of activities, including the Agency's permitting and rulemaking groups.

The NASF will continue to work closely with EPA on the developments and refinements of the NextGen initiative. More information on Next Generation Compliance is available on the EPA website at epa.gov/compliance/next-generation-compliance. If you have any questions or would like more information on this effort, please contact Jeff Hannapel with NASF at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.

 

Originally published in the May 2016 issue.

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