Top Regulatory Burdens of the U.S. Metal Casting Industry


·         OSHA’s Crystalline Silica Rule – In March 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule which will negatively harm the metalcasting industry, as well as the construction, ship building brick and hydraulic fracturing, and the economy, while doing little to improve the health and safety of industry workers.  The rule will cost our alone industry more than $2.2 billion annually—more than 50 times OSHA’s inaccurate estimates. This rule should be withdrawn, and OSHA should instead fully implement and enforce the current law.


·         EPA Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from Electric Generating Utilities – In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new rules designed to limit GHG reductions from both existing and new power plants.  The rule for existing plants mandates a 32 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from the electric power sector by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.  The final rule for newly constructed power plants will effectively require use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology to achieve these emissions goals, even though these control technologies have not yet been demonstrated to be commercially viable.  As a significant energy consumer, the rules could substantially increase energy costs for metalcasters and potentially disrupt the reliability of the energy grid.  Both rules are currently under litigation and subject to a stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court pending judicial review.  EPA should withdraw the rule and develop a more cost effective, reliable and feasible approach to reduce CO2 emissions to an appropriate level. 


·         Residual Risk and Technology Review (RTR) for Iron and Steel Foundry NESHAP for Major Sources – Air emissions from iron and steel foundry major sources are subject to the national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP).  EPA must conduct a residual risk and technology review (RTR) for all NESHAPs eight years after promulgation. 

The iron and steel foundry NESHAP is now due for this review.  Recently, EPA has issued more stringent revised NESHAPs for several industry source categories, even though the RTR process determined that the risks associated with the controlled emissions from these sources were acceptable and that no new control technologies were identified.  This regulatory overreach is not consistent with the letter and intent of the Clean Air Act (CAA), but nonetheless have been upheld by federal appeals courts applying the Chevron doctrine giving great deference to the actions of federal agencies, including EPA.  AFS requests that Congress urge the EPA to implement the RTR process for iron and steel foundries that is consistent with the letter and intent of the CAA.

·         Stormwater Management Metalcasters, operate under a multi-sector general permit, as is the case for most industrial stormwater dischargers, and must implement best management practices (BMPs) to meet stormwater benchmark concentration levels.  If a benchmark level is exceeded, facilities must review their BMPs and determine if additional BMPs must be implemented of if other corrective measures are needed. Many of the benchmark concentration levels for metals have been set so low that it may not be possible for metalcasting operations to meet the benchmarks.  In fact, many are so low that nearly all residential and commercial stormwater discharges would exceed them.  As a result, many metalcasting operations could face unnecessary enforcement issues, even though their stormwater discharges are effectively controlled with BMPs.  EPA needs to show flexibility to enforce BMPs as permit levels.  Otherwise, this permit process will be never-ending, extremely burdensome, and very expensive.

·         Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction (SSM) Provisions – The CAA provides for some affirmative defenses for facilities that may exceed air emission limits during temporary periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction (SSM).  The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the rule that allows facilities to exceed applicable hazardous air pollutant emissions standards during SSM periods.   
EPA is also in the process of removing these SSM provisions as part of its residual risk and technology reviews (RTRs) for NESHAPs.  In June 2015, EPA issued a final rule requiring states to revise their state implementation plans (SIPs) to control excess air emissions during periods of SSM and submit revised plans that address new SSM provisions to EPA for approval by November 22, 2016 (SIP Call Rule), and this rule has been challenged in federal court.  States and industry groups claim that: 1) EPA does not have the authority to ban affirmative defense for SSM, 2) it is not practical for facilities to comply with emissions standards during periods of SSM, and 3) it will lead to unnecessary violations for emissions over which facilities have no control.  The problem for metalcasting facilities is that even with the best control technologies, emissions may exceed the regulatory standard temporarily during these periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction, despite the fact that facilities may have an SSM plan in place to address these occurrences.  Without some relief, facilities will be subject to enforcement actions that are beyond their control and state regulatory authorities may be faced with an unnecessary and unwanted administrative burden of enforcing such events.

·         National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Air Emissions –  In Dec. 2012, EPA finalized its update to the PM2.5 rule.  The recent changes to the PM2.5 standards were set so low that many areas in the country, including some rural areas with no industrial operations, have background PM2.5 levels that are at, or near the NAAQS for PM2.5.  As a result, some foundries are unable to obtain air permits to build new, state-of-the-art metalcasting operations or to expand or update their existing facilities because such activities would have the potential to emit PM2.5 over the NAAQS.  PM2.5 air emissions are managed at metalcasting facilities with the use of baghouses and other pollution control devices.  In most cases, more than 99 percent of the fine particulates are captured and not emitted into the environment.  Such results are not consistent with needed increased production, sound economic growth, and improved environmental performance in the metalcasting industry.  Flexibility is needed for metalcasters in implementing the PM2.5 NAAQS.

·         Waters of the United States – This rule redefines the scope of the CWA to state which waters (such as cooling ponds, catch basins) need to meet CWA standards to protect aquatic life.  It is currently stayed while going through litigation, and so is not being implemented.  If implemented, it would force foundries to meet CWA standards at waters on their facilities that are currently unregulated and impact upgrades and plant expansions.

·         Ozone NAAQS Revision from October 2015 – This rule set a very stringent emission standard for ozone emissions all stationary sources in the U.S.  This standard is just now starting to be implemented, and is expected to result in significant costs for communities.  We are concerned that plants will not be able to expand without a reduction of emission or shut down of operations from other businesses in the area.  With new restrictions, plans for expansion may be delayed or shelved.




Prepared by the American Foundry Society

OSHA's Proposed Silica Rule Threatens Foundry Industry

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a major new regulatory structure for the control of crystalline silica, including drastically reducing the silica permissible exposure limit (PEL). Silica (quartz) is one of the most common minerals on earth and is essential for manufacturing, particularly for foundries, construction, agriculture and countless products.

This is one of the most comprehensive rulemakings the agency has ever undertaken with significant economic consequences to major sectors of the economy, including foundries, steel, brick making, maritime, and construction. OSHA received more than 2,000 public comments, including significant input from the U.S. foundry industry.  

The foundry industry is particularly alarmed by the new requirements this regulation will place on the U.S. foundry industry and its projected costs. The proposed rule would significantly reduce the permissible exposure level (PEL) for silica in the workplace. It will also require implementing a host of prescribed engineering and work practice controls, as well as an array of ancillary provisions.  

The U.S. foundry industry uses millions of tons of silica sand per year in the production of critical metal castings..  As proposed, the rule will force some foundries to close, shift production offshore, and impact the long-term productivity, profitability and competitive structure of the metalcasting industry. Simply put, OSHA’s proposal is not technologically or economically feasible for the foundry industry OSHA’s proposal will ultimately cost the foundry industry more than $2.2 billion dollars annually

Every sector relies on metal castings (iron, steel and aluminum).  In fact, 90 percent of all manufactured goods and capital equipment incorporate engineered castings into their makeup.  We provide castings to a wide variety of industries, including, but not limited to: national defense, automotive and light truck, renewable energy processes, aerospace, medical, agriculture, construction, railroad, electric transmission, oil and gas, and water infrastructure. 

Foundries are also the mainstay of national defense. All sectors of the U.S. military are reliant on metal castings for submarines, jet fighters, ships, tanks, trucks, weapon systems, aircraft carriers and other vital defense systems.

The American Foundry Society (AFS) has the following key concerns with OSHA’s proposed Silica rulemaking:

·         OSHA Underestimates and/or Completely Omits the Cost of Equipment & ProcessesFoundries will have to exhaust all feasible engineering and work practice controls to meet the new PEL. A one-size-fits-all solution does not work for our industry. Facilities may spend millions of dollars to implement engineering controls (through trial and error) and still not meet the new PEL.

·         Drastically Understates Costs to Comply—Exceeds 9% of Industry’s Revenue

OSHA’s estimated cost of the silica proposal for the foundry industry is $43 million; however, independent economic analysts projected the cost to be more than $2.2 billion annually. This represents 9.9% of the foundry industry’s revenue and 276% of its profits. The economic impact will disproportionately affect small foundries.

·         Prohibits Certain Work Practices Which Contradict Existing Industry Safety Practices
OSHA bans dry sweeping, compressed air and employee rotation as control methods. For many foundries, compressed air is the only feasible method to clean complex castings. Wet methods can damage equipment and create a significant explosion risk where molten metal is present.

·         Deficiencies in Commercial Lab Analytical Accuracy for Silica Air Samples
Substantial evidence cited by OSHA and other independent parties indicates that many commercial laboratories cannot, with the necessary accuracy and consistency, measure workplace silica levels that employers need to assess their compliance, particularly at the new proposed PEL and action level.   In addition, costs go up dramatically as you try to control at lower and lower levels (so the consequences of poor lab results—i.e., under-controlling in response to false-negatives and over-controlling in response to false-positives—increase exponentially as exposure limits decrease).

 By way of background, AFS is the major trade and technical association for the North American metalcasting industry.  We have more than 8,000 members representing over 2,000 metalcasting firms, their suppliers and customers throughout the U.S.  The American metalcasting industry provides employment for over 200,000 men and women directly and supports thousands of other jobs indirectly.  Approximately 80 percent of U.S. metalcasters have fewer than 100 employees.

AFS is committed to a silica regulatory policy based on sound science that protects its workers, is technologically and economically feasible, and does not impose compliance costs that far exceed its expected benefits.

 For additional information, contact, Stephanie Salmon, American Foundry Society –
Washington Office, 202/452-7135 or

Report: Ozone Threatens Working Families & Pennsylvania's Economic Outlook

The Small Business & Entrepreneur Association's The Center for Regulatory Solutions has published a report called "Moving the Goalposts: How Washington's Ozone Plan Threatens Working Families and Pennsylvania's Economic Comeback".

According to the report, "The Center for Regulatory Solutions is a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, a 501c(4) advocacy, research, education and networking organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. The SBE Council works to educate elected officials, policymakers, business leaders and the public about key policies that enable business start-up and growth."

OSHA Proposes to Halve Crystalline Silica's Permissible Exposure Limit

The US Occupational Safety & Health Administration released proposed rules on August 23 that would cut in half the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of crystalline silica. The current PEL of 100 μg/m3 of air would be halved to 50 μg/m3, with an action level of 25 μg/m3. OSHA’s proposed lower PEL would apply to all of general industry, including foundries. In addition to the lower exposure limit, OSHA proposes additional engineering controls and ancillary provisions.

OSHA estimates the annual compliance cost of the new standard to be $640 million. The American Chemistry Council estimates the economic impact will be closer to $5.5 billion, with foundries’ cost to comply at $1-$2 billion annually. OSHA projects the total benefits of the new rule will top $4 billion, while preventing 1,600 new silicosis cases annually and preventing 700 silicosis deaths per year. Under the current standard –which has been in effect for over 40 years – the mortality rate from silicosis has fallen by over 90%. For many foundries, this new standard could be a fatal blow to profitability. Below is a text of OSHA’s proposed rulemaking and the slides of the webinar about this issue conducted by the American Foundry Society.