Jump to main content.

Rhode Island

Project Name
Implementation of a Pretreatment Program Project XL

Rhode Island

Project Contact
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
Dr. Richard Enander, Supervising Scientist
Phone: 401-222-4700, x4411
Fax: 401-222-3810
e-mail: renander@dem.state.ri.us

Other Funding
No other federal funds will be utilized for this project.

Regulatory Flexibility
Regulatory flexibility required to implement this project was granted on October 6, 2000, when the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule (65 FR 59791) that set forth the mechanism through which POTWs that complete the Project XL process can seek modification of their programs following the procedures in 40 CFR 403.18, and implement the new local programs as described in their Project XL Final Project Agreements. As part of this rule change the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC), the largest pretreatment coordinator in RI, received approval to modify its Pretreatment program with respect to a select group of Rhode Island metal finishing companies participating in NBC's Project XL.

Affirmation by the Director
The director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Mr. Jan Reitsma, has already agreed to the implementation of Project XL. In September of 2000, the directors of DEM, NBC and EPA-New England signed a formal agreement to support Project XL.

Project Funding

Project Narrative
Through the State Innovative Pilot Grant Program, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), through a partnership with the University of Rhode Island (URI) and the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC), will utilize regulatory flexibility mechanisms, established through NBC's Project XL Program, to help demonstrate how Rhode Island's metal finishing industry can both improve environmental performance while increasing production efficiency.

Through on-site technical assistance and data collection activities, established through the National Strategic Goal Program (SGP), the project team will show that through this innovative approach to environmental management participating Tier II metal finishing companies will achieve the following goals set forth in a Project XL Final Project Agreement signed on September 25th, 2000:

DEM is the regulatory environmental agency for the State of Rhode Island and will rely on URI and NBC to carry out the proposed activities.

The University of Rhode Island
The University of Rhode Island is home to Rhode Island's Center for Pollution Prevention, a joint effort of the University of Rhode Island's Department of Chemical Engineering, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Narragansett Bay Commission. Since 1987, URI faculty and students have assisted more than 300 companies in a variety of industries, including metal finishers, textiles, food processors and jewelers with pollution prevention and regulatory compliance efforts. The Center for Pollution Prevention has significant experience in the textile, food, jewelry, electronic parts, machine tool, metal fabrication and chemical manufacturing industries. Technical expertise provided by URI is needed to assist companies that participate in the project.

The Narragansett Bay Commission
The Narragansett Bay Commission owns and operates the State of Rhode Island's two largest municipal wastewater treatment facilities - servicing approximately 1/3 of the state's population and 70% of Rhode Island's industry. In order to protect treatment plant operations from potentially harmful industrial wastewater, NBC has in place a nationally recognized regulatory Industrial Pretreatment (PT) Program and a non-regulatory technical assistance Pollution Prevention (P2) Program. Both programs consist of highly educated and experienced engineers and environmental technicians that contributed to the reduction and control of industrial pollutants in wastewater received at these two treatment plants through on-site regulatory and technical assistance activities and industrial user education.

The NBC has been an active participant of several initiatives to find better ways of achieving environmental goals and objectives through the use of pollution prevention, voluntary waste reduction programs and regulatory flexibility. Two such programs are Common Sense Initiative/Strategic Goals Program and Project XL.

The National Strategic Goals Program
In December of 1994 EPA established the Common Sense Initiative (CSI) - challenging industry and government environmental agencies to work together to develop "Cleaner, Cheaper, and Smarter" ways of achieving a clean environment while enhancing economic growth. In January of 1998 the National Strategic Goals Program (SGP) was launched by a group of stakeholders brought together through the CSI.

The members of the SGP Stakeholder Group, consisting of representatives from the metal finishing industry, EPA, various state environmental agencies, Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs), and various public interest groups developed voluntary environmental goals for the metal finishing industry that go far beyond those achievable through regulatory compliance standards alone. Measured against 1992 performance levels the SGP seeks to achieve, on a company by company basis, a:

The SGP Stakeholder Group believes that by encouraging companies to work toward these goals, on a voluntary basis, the metal finishing industry as whole will be able to minimize the need for EPA to impose future environmental regulatory requirements.

The NBC was a founding member of the CSI and has been a major force behind the success of the SGP. NBC is currently tracking the environmental progress of more than 16 metal finishing companies by assisting with the collection and compilation of:

Collected data is entered into a national database were participating metal finishing companies can compare their performance against a nation average for similar sized companies.

NBC Project XL
In 1995 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established Project XL (eXcellence and Leadership) - a program that tests new and better ways of protecting public health and the environment. Through this program EPA has asked industry, communities, environmental advocacy groups, states, and municipalities for ideas and suggestions on how to improve current federal environmental protection efforts and has offered to pilot test viable suggestions utilizing rule changes and regulatory modifications if necessary. While EPA has always allowed for stake-holder involvement in the development of rules and regulations this is first time a commitment has been made to modify existing rules to allow for experimentation with alternate regulatory/pollution prevention approaches.

In October of 1999 the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) submitted a Project XL proposal to EPA focusing on industrial pretreatment requirements and the application of these requirements to industrial users that have demonstrated a history of superior environmental performance. As written, existing regulations require that all Significant Industrial Users (SIUs) comply with very specific requirements regardless of their environmental efforts and accomplishments. NBC believes a greater quality of environmental protection can be achieved by focusing regulatory oversight efforts on companies with poorer environmental track records and allowing good performers to operate with less regulatory oversight.

On September 21, 2000 NBC, EPA and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management signed a Final Project Agreement (FPA) with respect to a NBC Pretreatment Program Project XL.

NBC's Project XL will allow NBC's Pretreatment Program to test new innovative ways of enhancing the environmental performance of Rhode Island's metal finishing industry. The FPA describes, in very specific detail, how NBC will utilize regulatory flexibility obtained through Project XL to focus regulatory efforts on poorer environmental performers while encouraging higher-level environmental performers to use pollution prevention to achieve "beyond compliance" environmental goals.

As part of this proposed Project XL NBC will:

1) Establish environmental performance criteria by which to measure and track the environmental performance of participating companies,

2) Identify 10 Tier I (best of the best environmental performers) metal finishing companies,

3) Identify 10 Tier II (poorer environmental performers) metal finishing companies,

4) Increase regulatory oversight of Tier II companies and grant regulatory flexibility to Tier I companies, and

5) Measure environmental improvements achieved through this pilot study.

In order to focus regulatory efforts toward Tier II companies NBC has asked EPA to modify certain federal pretreatment rules and regulations to allow for:

1) Reduced regulatory inspections of Tier I companies,

2) Reduced self-monitoring requirements for Tier I companies, and

3) Elimination of categorical self-monitoring requirements for Tier I companies with respect to regulated constituents not utilized by these companies.

NBC will utilize time and effort saved through less regulatory oversight of Tier I companies by spending more time with Tier II companies and will encourage Tier I companies to redirect time and effort saved on their part toward pollution prevention and source reduction activities.

NBC has already started working with EPA and RIDEM to identify and outline specific rule changing procedures. Specifically, on October 3, 2001 EPA promulgated a federal rule (65 FR 59738) amending the National Pretreatment Program regulations to allow POTWs that have completed Project XL selection process to modify their approved local Pretreatment Programs. NBC, meeting these qualifications, will be allowed to modify its existing Pretreatment Program and implement the new program described in the Project XL Final Project Agreement (FPA). Full implementation of Project XL is awaiting a rule change by RIDEM anticipated to be finalized by December 2002.

Grant Project Activities
Through this grant program DEM, URI and NBC propose the establishment of a joint effort to work with each Tier I and Tier II metal finishing company to identify environmental and economic goals and to initiate efforts to achieve those goals and to assist Tier II companies improve their environmental performance and move up the environmental performance ladder. Thus recognition through NBC's Project XL will give Tier I metal finishers the additional benefit of URI's technical and regulatory experiences.

Project tasks will include:

1) Establish URI as a single point of contact for all environmental concerns outside of NBC's jurisdiction for each Tier I company and interface with RIDEM and other regulatory agencies and necessary. (as soon as project commences)

2) In conjunction with NBC's Pollution Prevention Program, conduct technical audits of each Tier I company to identify areas of exceptional environmental performance and areas were additional improvements can be made. (one company per month)

3) In conjunction with NBC's Pollution Prevention Program and Tier I company representatives identify quantifiable environmental and economic goals for each company. (within 3 months)

4) In conjunction with NBC's Pollution Prevention Program, conduct technical audits of each Tier II company to identify areas were improvements can be made. (one company per month)

5) In conjunction with NBC's Pollution Prevention Program develop and submit reports to all Tier I and II companies participating in NBC's Project XL fully outlining the findings of the technical assistance audits. (within 30 days of each site visit)

6) Work with each company as needed to implement environmental, production and other improvements. (ongoing)

7) In conjunction with NBC's Pollution Prevention Program work with each Tier I and Tier II company to quantify the effects of all pollution prevention and regulatory compliance efforts. (ongoing)

Project XL has been designed as a 6 year project per agreement with EPA. In terms of the State Innovation Pilot Grant Program, one year of initial funding is being requested as part of this proposal. It is strongly believed that Project XL can serve as a useful model for any regulatory agency in any state. Overall, administrative and regulatory costs can be lowered while improving environmental compliance - a truly "win-win" situation for both the environment and the economy.

Budget (1 year)


Local Navigation

Jump to main content.