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EPA's industrial towel shop probe rulemaking continues

Nov '05
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA's) Inspector General's probe into the industrial shop towel rulemaking that was expected to be completed by the end of September 2005 has been extended.

The inspector general's investigation addresses whether EPA complied with all legal requirements, ensured open government obligations and avoided undue influence during the rulemaking process. In particular, the inspector general aims to clarify the degree of influence that the industrial laundry industry had in the outcome of the proposal.

The investigation was requested by four Democratic lawmakers in response to allegations by manufacturers of disposable wipes who believe the proposal favors the laundry industry. The proposal, if finalized, would provide industrial wipes a conditional exemption from RCRA hazardous waste provisions in an effort to encourage recycling of spent solvents.

The proposal states that wipes sent to laundries or dry cleaners must meet a no free liquid standard, meaning “no free liquids when wrung.” However, disposable contaminated wipes being sent to a municipal landfill must meet a more stringent requirement that the wipes be “dry,” less then 5 grams of solvents in each wipe.

IPC provided comments in April 2004 supporting EPA efforts to develop a rule addressing the ambiguity of state requirements for the handling and disposal of both reusable and disposable solvent contaminated industrial wipes. Industrial shop towels and wipes are used throughout the electronics industry, particularly by EMS facilities that use the wipes to maintain a clean work surface during assembly.

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