NASF Government & Industry Affairs Update: Selected Developments



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New Nickel and Cobalt Health Hazard Guidelines to Be Developed by ACGIH

The American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) intends to develop new Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) for nickel and cobalt.  The TLVs for nickel were last updated in 1998 and the most recent BEI review was in 2007.  TLVs and BEIs are developed as guidelines to assist in the control of health hazards.

The TLV committee may move forward and develop new listings by the end of 2011 or 2012.  These decisions, along with EPA's publication of a new nickel risk assessment and European Union action on nickel compounds, will inform future U.S. regulatory decisions.

In the meantime, the current OSHA guidelines for soluble nickel compounds (e.g., nickel chloride, nickel nitrate, nickel sulfate, nickel acetate and other compounds), can be viewed here.


EPA Nearing Deadline for Chromium Electroplating Air Emissions Rule
As a court-ordered deadline looms, the NASF continues to discuss potential changes to current federal standards for controlling hexavalent chromium air emission from certain electroplating processes. The agency must finalize any changes to the current Chromium Electroplating NESHAP requirements by June 30, 2011.
NASF, which has worked with EPA air officials as well as the White House in recent years on the issue, has supported retaining current federal air emission and surface tension limits for the industry. NASF has also supported a 3-year phase-out of PFOS-based mist suppressants and the introduction of new, alternative mist suppressants. EPA will make a decision shortly on the rule.
SEC Announces Delay of Final Conflict Minerals Regulations - OEMs Now Notifying Supply Chains of Potential Reporting Obligations
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") announced recently that it would not publish its final regulations implementing section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank Act") concerning conflict minerals before its statutory deadline of April 15, 2011. 
In the meantime, certain finishing operations and other suppliers have been notified by automotive, aerospace and other industrial customers that they may be directly or indirectly subject to some provisions of the conflict minerals reporting framework.  The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) sent a letter to a number of finishing operations this month outlining potential issues raised by the pending regulations.  View the letter here.
According to the SEC's recently published timeline for its implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Commission will finalize the conflicts minerals regulations sometime between August and December 2011.  The SEC's timeline is available at http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/dodd-frank/dfactivity-upcoming.shtml#08-12-11
The delayed timeline suggests that the SEC needs more time to consider potential revisions to the proposed rule in light of the numerous substantive comments that were submitted by industry and others during the comment period.
This delay will provide companies with fiscal years beginning between April 15 and the SEC's final regulations with additional time to prepare for their obligations because the disclosure, due diligence, and reporting requirements are effective with respect to the company's activities in the first full fiscal year following the SEC's promulgation of final regulations. 
On the other hand, those with fiscal years that begin soon after the SEC finalizes the regulations will have less time to prepare, which could be difficult if the final regulations differ in significant respects from the proposed regulations.