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Molex Incorporated

Letter from Walter Walsh (EPA) to David Lennett (NRDC, EDF)


Mr. David J. Lennett
P.O. Box 71, Dennis Hill Road
Litchfield, Maine 04350 June 17, 1998

  Dear Mr. Lennett,

Enclosed you will find the Agency's response to the comments you submitted on the Molex Direct Final Rule/Proposed Rule, which was published in the Federal Register on November 3, 1997 at 62 FR 59332. In addition to the response which will be published in the Federal Register, is an extensive set of documents from the administrative record for the project. This data and analysis is the background information that serves as the basis for the Agency's response to your comments.

We are continuing to make modifications to the Final Project Agreement (FPA) which will be sent to you under separate cover. Since your comments didn't really address the FPA, I wanted to get this package to you as soon as possible so you could start your review process.

Based upon your conversation with Lisa Lund, we will set up a conference call between the appropriate Molex team members and yourself in the very near future. Please review the enclosed material at your earliest convenience and then give me a call at 202-260-2770 to set up a date and time for the call.


Walter F. Walsh
Environmental Scientist-Molex Team Leader

cc: Lisa Lund
David Doyle
XL Docket
David Coursen
Charles Openchowski

Response to Public Comment-Project XL, Molex (Lincoln, Nebraska)

Since the publication in the Federal Register of the Molex Direct Final Rule, and the Proposed Rule, we have received several comments. One of the commenters suggested additional data was needed to support the administrative record for the project. We agree, and have gathered additional data in support of the project. Based on that data and additional analysis we have determined that existing RCRA regs (260.31) provide adequate authority and flexibility to allow Molex to proceed with its proposal to segregate waste streams. Therefore, there is no need to promulgate a site-specific rule at the federal level to implement this XL project. As a result, the proposal published on 11/3/97 in the Federal Register is withdrawn. EPA anticipates that this XL project will proceed under Nebraska's authorized RCRA program, which has an existing, equivalent variance provision comparable to 260.31.

The first commenter expressed concern that certain wording in the November 3, 1997, Federal Register notice and in the draft Final Project Agreement required that Molex ship their wastewater treatment sludges directly to smelters. The commenter asked that EPA clarify this issue by stating that Molex would be allowed, under the terms of the project, to ship their wastewater treatment sludges directly to any legitimate reclaimer, not just to smelters.

EPA agrees with the first commenter that Molex be allowed to ship its sludges to any legitimate reclaimer and did not intend in its proposal to require that Molex ship its sludges only directly to smelters. EPA has made the appropriate wording changes to the Final Project Agreement to address this issue.

The second commenter raised three issues. The first issue concerned the commenter's belief that base don the administrative record developed for this proposal, Molex was not in compliance with the precious metals recovery provisions provided under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Related to this, the second issue concerned the commenter's belief that the record did not support EPA's contention that the wastewater treatment sludges presently generated by Molex are sufficiently "commodity-like" in nature to allow the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) to grant its temporary variance.

Subsequent to receiving these comments, EPA has investigated both current and historical waste handling practices and all current and historical analytical and financial data associated with the sludges generated by Molex.

In response to the first issue, the information from EPA's investigation shows that under Molex's old operation, sham recycling had not occurred when the sludges were handled under the precious metals exemption, and Molex was in fact in compliance with the requirements of RCRA. In response to the second issue, the information shows that the wastewater treatment sludges generated by Molex at the its new operation have sufficient economic value to be considered "commodity-like" and thereby support the temporary variance proposed by the NDEQ. Data and transaction receipts have been entered into the administrative record to document the recycling transactions between Molex and Sipi (Precious Metals Division, 1720 Elston Ave, Chicago Ill, 60622)

To address the commenter's concerns about the record on these first two issues, copies of historical inspection reports, correspondence between Molex and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and analytical and cost documentation provided to EPA by Molex have recently been added to the administrative record. Copies of these documents can be found at EPA's Project XL homepage at https://www.epa.gov/Project XL.

The third issue by the second commenter concerned the commenter's belief that based on statements made by Molex during the development of the project proposal, evidence of contamination of the wastewater treatment sludges by "organics" may be occurring. The commenter further stated that EPA is pursing this XL project without sufficient analytical information for the wastewater sludges, specifically concerning potential contamination f the wastewater treatment sludges. The commenter also believes that EPA is not requiring sufficient analysis of these sludges after the project is underway.

In response to the third comment, EPA requested Molex to undertake extensive sampling and analysis of all the wastewater treatment sludges that are subject to this project. The company agreed to conduct this sampling and analysis and the results can be found at EPA's Project XL homepage. EPA also conducted an onsite inspection of the company, focusing this inspection n the company's wastewater treatment operations and in general its compliance with the requirements of the Clean Water Act.

EPA has reviewed the analytical results of the sludge samples taken by Molex and determined that only one organic constituent, bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, is present in significant concentrations. EPA believes that this contaminant exists in the sludges as a result of plastic packaging, production or treatment equipment used at the facility. Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, more commonly known as di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, is a widely used plasticizer found in products used throughout society. Because of its physical and chemical properties however, exposures typically experienced by the general public of DEHP have not constituted a threat to the public health. Based upon the potential exposure pathways and concentration of DEHP in the Molex sludges and the proposed method of handling of these sludges, EPA has concluded that the amount of DEHP in the sludges pose no risk to public health or the environment.

EPA's inspection of the Molex facility, which was conducted on 4/27-4/30, 1998, determined that little if any potential exists at the facility for contamination of the wastewater sludges by organic contaminants to occur. A copy of EPA's inspection report is also available for review at EPA's XL homepage.

Nonetheless, because some organic contamination has been found in the Molex wastewater sludges, EPA has decided in response to the third comment to require that Molex conduct additional sampling and analysis of these sludge after the project has been implemented, to ensure that levels of DEHP and any other semi-volatile organics in their sludges remain below any levels of concern. Molex will be required to conduct semi-annual sampling and analysis of each of their sludges for semi-volatile organics for the first year of the project. If the concentrations of these constituents remain below levels of concern for the first year, and as long as Molex maintains the same operational processes at the facility. Molex will not be required to conduct additional sampling for these organic constituents for the remainder of the project. The Final Project Agreement has been amended accordingly.

List of Attachments
12/20/90 Letter from Paul Eckerson to Dave Wisch, Nebraska DEC 1/14/91
Letter from DEC to Paul Eckerson 9/13/91
Letter to Mike Driscoll, Molex from David Wisch Nebraska DEC 6/25/91
NDEC inspection report of Molex facility 6/25/95
SAIC RCRA compliance evaluation and inspection report for Molex facility 2/19/98
Letter from Doyle to Eckerson, requesting that organics sampling be conducted by Molex 2/24/98
E&I Labs 7 page analytical report 3/5/98
Total Toxic Organic analysis for effluent and leachate analysis for the different sludges (41 pages) 3/5/98
Letter from Eckerson to Doyle, describing types of metals used at facility and concentrations of heavy metals in discharge to POTW from both the old and new facilities 3/18/98
West Coast Analytical Services 16 page analytical report 4/13/98
Letter from Eckerson to Doyle, containing cost data on reclamation of "old" wastewater sludges 4/20/98
Fax from Eckerson to Doyle, containing metals concentrations for "new" sludges 5/15/98
Letter from Bill Gidley NDEC to David Doyle


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