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EPA Extends Comment Period for Proposed TSCA Rule for Chrysotile Asbestos

On Wednesday, May 25, EPA published an extension of the public comment period in the Federal Register for a proposed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) rule for conditions of use for chrysotile asbestos. Comments on the proposed rule are now due on July 13, 2022. The proposed rule was published in the April 12th Federal Register. This proposed regulation is based on the completion of EPA’s TSCA Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos.

EPA is proposing to prohibit the manufacturing (including importing), processing, distribution in commerce, and the commercial use of chrysolite asbestos for chrysolite asbestos membranes in the chlor-alkali industry and several other commerical and consumer uses. The potential impacts from this prohibition for the water sector are significant for chlorine prodeuction and distribution. Chorine production plants would required to switch from asbestos diaphragm cells to membrane cells. According to the preamble of the proposed rule, “three firms own a total of ten chlor-alkali plants in the U.S. that still use asbestos diaphragms to produce chlorine and sodium hydroxide (also known as caustic soda). As one of these ten plants is expected to close in 2022, before the effective date of the rule, EPA has only estimated the costs and benefits for the nine remaining plants that would be impacted by this rule. Converting the asbestos diaphragm cells to membrane cells in response to the proposed rule is predicted to require an incremental investment of approximately $1.8 billion across all nine plants. The combined national quantified benefits of avoided cancer cases associated with these products are approximately $3,100 per year using a 3% discount rate and $1,200 per year using a 7% discount rate, based on the cancer risk estimates from the Part 1 risk evaluation”.