NASF Report: July 2017

NASF releases its Metals Loading Study for Wastewater Discharges and looks at recent federal deregulatory actions impacting surface finishing.
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NASF Completes Metals Loading Study Highlighting Industry’s Clean Water Success

NASF releases a study pointing to the finishing industry’s major success in reducing metals discharges to local water treatment utilities in recent decades. The surface finishing industry is subject to two categorical standards for wastewater discharged to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). In the past three years, the U.S. EPA has conducted a review of the categorical standards and discharge limits.  During that time, the NASF has been working closely with EPA officials to provide information and analysis on the industry’s progress on wastewater discharge improvements.

Metals Loading Study

NASF recently commissioned a metals loading study of wastewater discharged to the Milwaukee POTW. This study repeated a similar study conducted in 1992. The primary results of the study are summarized below:


  • The number of surface finishing facilities decreased from 104 in 1993 to 51 in 2016.
  • The total metals discharged to the POTW were reduced by 87.6 percent since 1992.
  • The average metals per facility discharged to the POTW were reduced by 72.0 percent.
  • The surface finishing industry discharged only 2.1 percent of the metals discharged to the POTW in 2016.
  • The number of facilities in Significant Non-Compliance decreased from 50 percent in 1989 to approximately 8 percent in 2016 (only 4 facilities).


Factors Driving Improved Environmental Performance

The study identified four general trends and reasons for the increase in environmental performance:

  • Facilities learned to operate their waste water treatment systems better over time.
  • The better performing facilities survived the several economic downturns over the period between the studies.
  • Facilities have better operational controls to maximize treatment efficiency.
  • Facilities implemented pollution prevention practices that reduced the metals discharged.


Based on the industry’s discussions with facilities and the wastewater utility community, these significant reductions are representative of surface finishing nationwide as the technology and science for managing wastewater treatment is fundamentally the same throughout the industry. This study clearly demonstrates that the surface finishing industry has made significant progress in reducing the metals in its effluent, providing evidence that revisions to the existing categorical standards for the industry are not needed at this time.

NASF has presented this information to EPA, and the agency is expected to make a final decision this summer on whether it will pursue revisions to the existing metal finishing and electroplating categorical standards and discharge limits.

For more information about this study or EPA’s review of the existing waste water discharge standards, please contact Christian Richter or Jeff Hannapel with NASF at crichter@thepolicygroup.com or  jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.



NASF Submits Comments to EPA on Regulatory Reform 3

Earlier this year President Trump issued an executive order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda. The order calls for the official designation of “Regulatory Reform Officers” and “Regulatory Reform Task Forces” in each federal agency, including the EPA.

The Regulatory Reform Task Force in each agency was tasked with evaluating existing regulations and identifying regulations that:

  • eliminate jobs or inhibit job creation;
  • are outdated, unnecessary or ineffective;
  • impose costs that exceed benefits;
  • create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies;
  • rely in whole or in part on data, information or methods that are not publicly available or that are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard for reproducibility; or
  • derive from or implement executive orders or other presidential directives that have been subsequently rescinded or substantially modified.


The EPA Task Force sought input from those groups impacted by regulations, including small businesses, consumers, nongovernmental organizations, trade associations and state, local and tribal governments and requested comments on burdensome regulations by May 15, 2017. 

NASF submitted comments on several regulations that were burdensome and asked EPA to consider repealing, replacing or modifying them to ensure that the surface finishing industry continues to protect human health and the environment and remains globally competitive, including:

  • metal finishing and electroplating effluent limitation guidelines,
  • chromium electroplating NESHAP,
  • plating and polishing NESHAP for area sources,
  • stormwater management,
  • waters of the U.S. rule,
  • definition of solid waste and recycling,
  • F006 hazardous waste listing,
  • hazardous waste generator improvements rule,
  • TRI reporting and manufactured metal compounds,
  • CERCLA financial assurance requirements, and
  • chemical management regulations.


Because of the time frame for submitting the report, EPA will continue this process identifying burdensome regulations impacting U.S. manufacturing. NASF will continue to work closely with EPA officials to pursue opportunities to reduce regulatory burdens on the surface finishing industry.

For more information, please contact Jeff Hannapel with NASF at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.



Recent Federal Deregulatory Actions Impact Surface Finishing: Selected Topics at OSHA

President Trump’s early executive orders on deregulation—coupled with congressional and agency actions to repeal several Obama era mandates—have reshaped the atmosphere at the agencies in Washington. There are a few OSHA deregulatory actions that have already occurred and that NASF has supported. A few examples that should be of interest to NASF members:

OSHA “Volks” Recordkeeping Regulation

In April, the President signed a resolution by Congress (H.J. Res 83), which overturned OSHA’s “Volks” rule or, formally, “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness.

OSHA had finalized the rule on December 19, 2016, very late in the Obama administration. The rule ignored a major ruling by the U.S. DC Circuit Court of Appeals. While employers have been required for some time to record and maintain work-related injury and illness data over a five-year period, they could be cited for violations only within the most recent six-month time period. The Obama administration’s OSHA “Volks” rule permitted citations to be issued to employers for up to five-and-a-half years after an alleged violation. NASF joined in with other associations in opposing the rule.

OSHA formally rescinded the rule on May 3, 2017 with a notice in the Federal Register. From now on, OSHA is prohibited from issuing employers citations for failing to record injuries or illnesses beyond the six-month statute of limitations set out in the OSHA Act. The agency is also prohibited from issuing a rule in the future “in substantially the same form” as the earlier, disapproved rule.

Reversal of OSHA “Walk-Around” Memo

In May, OSHA withdrew its 2013 Letter of Interpretation by the Obama administration that, for the first time, legally permitted union representatives and other non-union third party organizing groups to accompany OSHA inspectors on walk-around inspections at non-union workplaces.

At the time it was issued, NASF joined a few dozen other trade associations to oppose the memo, arguing that the interpretation undermined the safety and health focus of the OSHA inspection visit, instead turning it into an opportunity for unions and others with views hostile to the employer to launch or enhance organizing campaigns.

NASF will continue to watch for further regulatory developments in the coming months. 



Originally published in the July 2017 issue.