Monday, August 11, 2008

TSG Inc. v. U.S. EPA

Aug 8: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, Case No. 07-1116 . TSG, Inc. (TSG) filed a petition to challenge the validity of U.S. EPA's Applicability Determination, which found that TSG was a fabric “finishing operation” under Subpart OOOO of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). TSG argues that its fabric treating process should not be required to abide by the finishing operation standards and should instead qualify as a coating operation under the regulations. The Appeals Court concluded that the EPA did not "clearly err" in its determination that TSG was a finishing operation and denied the petition.

In TSG’s process, stain-repellant chemicals are diluted in a solvent, trichloroethene (TCE), which is then sprayed onto the fabric as it passes through the spraying machinery. This method allows TSG to process many different fabric weights, widths, colors, and constructions, as the solvent is generally gentler on a wider variety of fabrics than is a water-based system. As TSG characterizes it, the solvent acts as a “carrier” for the stain-repellant chemicals as they are sprayed onto the fabric and then evaporates when the fabric passes through the heating and drying machinery. A solvent recovery system then captures the evaporated solvent for reuse.

As a key part of its ruling, the Third Circuit said, "We agree with the EPA’s determination that '[t]he solvent that TSG uses to dilute stain repellent finishes is a transfer agent that is added to the finish as an auxiliary to improve the finishing process, and therefore, is a finishing material.' As the regulation states, the definition of finishing materials 'includ[es] auxiliaries,' so long as they are 'added to the finish to improve the finishing process.' 40 C.F.R. § 63.4371."

Access the complete opinion (
click here).

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