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Atlantic States Legal Foundation to EPA RE: Comments

18 February 1997

James Sullivan
US EPA Region II
Mail Code DECA-RCB
290 Broadway
New York, New York 10007-1866

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

Atlantic States is submitting the attached comments to be made part of the record regarding the Final Project Agreement (FPA) developed for HADCO corporation under EPA's Project XL initiative. Our comments address three areas of the FPA: a) stakeholder involvement, b) pollution prevention, and c) reservation of rights.

Although we do not find anything fundamentally wrong with the FPA, we are not satisfied with the procedures that got us to this point. First of all, we question whether HADCO's proposal should have qualified as a Project XL initiative in the first place. Secondly, the stakeholder involvement activities were extremely limited, and they were non-existent for the facility in Owego, New York until we raised strong objections. If Project XL is to continue, we would hope that a more elaborate stakeholder process would be undertaken with at least some company financial support and with funds specifically allocated to technical assistance for stakeholders. Furthermore, all Project XL initiatives must demonstrate substantial environmental benefits. This project's limited benefits do not apply at all to the community near the facility in Owego. We find it hard to understand how scarce state and federal resources could be used for this project in light of its limited prospects for major environmental benefits. This is not to denigrate the objective of the project, but rather to point out that there are other options (e.g. a RCRA waiver) that do not require all of the fancy apparatus of a Project XL initiative.

Now that Atlantic States has become involved in this project and the Project XL program in general, please keep us informed as to the outcome of any work with HADCO.


Samuel H. Sage

cc: US EPA, Regulatory Reinvention Pilot Projects, FRL-5197-9

Project XL: HADCO Corporation
Comments of Atlantic States Legal Foundation, Inc.
Prepared by Samuel H. Sage
18 February 1997

Our general response to this project is stated in the cover letter that accompanies these comments. Here, our comments are limited to sections VI, VII, and X of the FPA and one general statement.

Section VI.A. Verification of Environmental Benefits: Initial Projected Benefits Report and Annual Reports; and Section VII. Continuing Communication with Stakeholders

We appreciate that the data generated by HADCO is necessary for the regulators to be able to assess the benefits of this project. However, the stakeholders need access to the baseline and continued data collection without "interpretation" in order to evaluate the project themselves. Therefore, all of this data should be made available to those stakeholders, including Atlantic States, who might want to analyze it. Having the materials at depositories located 75 miles away in Owego, 150 miles away in Albany, or 250 miles away in New York City will significantly impair Atlantic States' ability to carefully review the materials. The same is probably true for other stakeholders who are not located near a proposed office depository. We suggest that either our office, which has a library open to the public and which has been used before the US EPA and NY DEC, or the regional office of NY DEC in Syracuse, be designated an official repository.

HADCO should have to use some of its savings to enhance the ability of stakeholders to monitor the program. The company should have regular meetings with stakeholders and should reimburse attendees. The project as proposed in the final FPA does little or nothing to improve the environment of the people living near the facility in Owego, New York. There must be some positive environmental benefit to make this worthwhile to the local stakeholders.

Section VI.C. Verification of Environmental Benefits: Dust Reclamation

This paragraph does not require that HADCO carry out dust reclamation in an environmentally beneficial manner. There is no obvious reason why HADCO should not be required to do something better with these dusts regardless of what happens to the sludge. The company will benefit economically from decreases in the production of dusts, whether these be brought about through process changes or by recycling; the less dust that is produced, the less dust must be landfilled. Therefore, the second sentence of paragraph 29 should be removed. The quantities of copper dusts reclaimed should be proportional to those realized by pollution prevention and recycling.

VI. Verification of Environmental Benefits: New Section Required

HADCO should be required as part of the FPA to undertake a complete pollution prevention analysis. We realize that HADCO has been a successful participant in the 33/50 program but additional improvement most likely is possible. The FPA should briefly describe what was accomplished in the 33/50 project and then do further analysis. We have no objection to the recycling of dusts and reusing the copper contained therein, but recycling is less preferable than pollution prevention, and so HADCO should first have to demonstrate that further pollution prevention measures are not feasible at this time. Furthermore, pollution prevention should not be limited to the dusts; the entire waste stream should be analyzed. For example, much of the waste appears to be excess epoxy resin used in laminating the circuit boards. Perhaps some computer directed gluing mechanism could be developed which would lead to a much more controlled application of the eposy resins, thereby significantly cutting down on wastes which must eventually be landfilled.

Section X. Reservation of Rights

This paragraph as written is unsatisfactory. By singling out criminal enforcement authority there is an unsettling implication that the regulatory agencies feel that their civil enforcement authority is in some way limited by the signing of this agreement. This is not correct as far as our understanding of Project XL is concerned. Furthermore, we are concerned that this language might in some way interfere with any future enforcement actions that might be undertaken under the citizen suit provisions of the various environmental statutes to which HADCO must comply. Since the basic enforcement authority granted by Congress and the states is in no way changed by the FPA, it seems better to us to eliminate this paragraph altogether.

General Statements about the FPA

The wording of the FPA is confusing and could benefit from rearranging the different paragraphs. Section VI, in particular, contains various paragraphs that seem to have little directly to do with each other. A structure where the different parties' obligations are spelled out as to whether they are monitoring, reporting, etc. would make this easier to read. For example, there should be a simple statement of what data is being collected, what is being analyzed, what needs to be reported and to whom. Also, different paragraphs of the FPA have different levels of detail.

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