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Dow Chemical Company, Freeport Texas

Letter from Richard Olson to Steve Gilrein

The DowChemical Company
Midland, Michigan 48674

2030 Dow Center

November 27, 1996

VIA FASCIMILIE 214/665-6762

Mr. Steve Gilrein
Associate Director of RCRA
EPA Region VI
1445-6PD Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX 75202

xc: Jerry Clifford
Sam Coleman
Al Davis
Laurie King
Mike Shapiro

Dear Mr. Gilrein:

This letter responds to the EPA Region VI Louisiana Division Notice of Deficiency and the Texas Division RCRA Section 3007 request and follows up on recent conversations between EPA RegionVI, Headquarters staff, and our representatives concerning these matters.

Based upon those discussions, we have briefed senior Dow managers that EPA continues to be interested in constructively moving forward on a broader basis that meshes the combustion Straetgy initiatives, the RCRA Section 3007 information requests, and the boiler and industrial furnace (BIF) permitting issues into a coherent strategy. We are hopeful the Project XL can be the umbrella under which our mutual objectives are met.

A re-energized internal effort on the part of Dow is ongoing. This letter provides an outline of these internal discussions and the scope of the proposal that we would like to discuss further with you. Based on your recent conversations with our representatives, we agree that a meeting with regional staff during the week of December 9th to discuss the BIF specific proposals and our recast XL proposal would be very helpful. this meeting will help facilitate a meeting of senior EPA officials and senior Dow management to agree upon the scope of the Dow XL project after December 18, 1996. We are also sharing this letter with the LA DEQ and Texas TNRCC staff so that they can participate in this process.

Further, we think the schedule for the information requests is too ambitious given both the scope of the BIF issue before the states and the Region and the status of the XL proposal.


Dow is considering several options for the scope of the XL project:

  • Texas Only. Under this approach, the XL project would apply to the 19 BIF units in Dow's Freeport, TX plant. Eight BIF units have been recently shut down.
  • Louisiana and Texas. Under this approach, the XL project would apply to the BIF units in Dow's Freeport, TX plant and the 4 BIF units in Dow's Plaquemine, LA facility. Dow previously submitted a XL proposal for a LA facility wide fugitive emission program which EPA did not accept. The BIF project is different than that proposal.
  • Other U.S. Facilities. While a majority of Dow's BIF units are located at these two facilities along the Gulf Coast, Dow operates other BIFs in California, Michigan, Connecticut, Ohio, and other states. Dow is willing to extend its proposed XL commitments to these locations.

The best XL projet is a Gulf Coast project in Louisiana and Texas. This scope encompasses substantial environmental and economic benefits without incurring excessive dificulty with coordinating different corporate, state, and EPA Regional offices. Dow could reduce this difficulty by working within a single EPA region. However, Dow is willing to discuss an XL project spanning the U.S., if the Agency believes that Agency acceptance of the project application can be accomplished before February 1997. Dow looks forward to discussing the scope of draft Dow XL project with you shortly.


  • 50 Percent Reduction in Dioxin and Furans Emissions. During the five year proposed XL project from 1997 to 2002, Dow will reduce its total TEQ dioxin and furan emissions from the XL BIFs from 1997 to 2002, Dow will reduce its total TEQ dioxin and furan emissions from the XL BIFs by 50 percent from a 1994 base year. These reductions will occur sooner than the likely schedule for additional regulatory controls and represent Dow's commitment to superior environmental performance.
  • Better Dioxin and Furan Data for the Public. During the XL project, Dow will provide its dioxin and furan emission information from the BIF units in the XL project to the public. Under EPA's interim status requirements, Dow's BIFs do not currently have to measure to provide to the public dioxin and furan emission information. This commitment will give the Agency and the public information on these constituents of concern during the interim status period.
  • Sharing Dioxin and Furan Technology. This commitment will give the Agency and the public four specific items to improve the Nation's understanding of BIF dioxin and furan emissions:
    • Sampling Techniques. Dow has undertaken significant research in sampling and monitoring procedures to analyze dioxin and furan generation and emissions. These procedures provide more efficient data collection than do EPA proceduers. Dow will share the results of these efforts with the Agency.
    • Results. As part of monitoring its progress toward the 50 percent dioxin and furan reduction commitment, Dow will share the results of its periodic testing with the Agency, states, and other stakeholders.
    • Technology Effectiveness. Dow will share the results of its evaluation of external dioxin and furan control technologies on its BIF units with the Agency and other interested parties, to the extent allowed by confidentiality agreements.
    • Technology. Dow will commit to licensing, under commercial terms, any patented technology it generates as part of this XL project to help achieve its 50 percent dioxin and furan reduction goal with other BIF owners and operators.
  • Dow is also planning to implement numerous source reduction and recycling projects during the life of the XL project. Dow is willing to collect information regarding the amount of chlorinated hydrocarbons burning which was eliminated by source reduction and recycling during the life of the XL project. Dow will report this information to the Agency and the public periodically.


This XL project will allow Dow and the Agency to manage the transition from today to fully permitted BIF units in a more efficient and effective manner. Dow expects to have the flexibility to eliminate much of the waste from the current system. More than fifty percent of both the cost and the paperwork in this process can be eliminated.

  • Mutually-Agreed Schedule for BIF Permits. Dow is in the process of enhancing the operation of its BIFs to be more environmentally protective. This transition will require several years to complete. Eight BIF units have been shut down in Dow's Texas Operations in the past few years. Two new BIF units absorbed some of the capacity of these eight. Several other BIF units may be shut down or added during the XL project's life. Dow intends to seek full permits for the existing or new BIFs it intends to operate over the long-term. However, Dow believes that it is inefficient to devote millions of dollars of its and EPA resources to conduct trial burns and permit units which either may not operate or which will have their performance enhanced. Dow seeks a comprehensive schedule for unit trial burns, information requests, and permitting for all BIF units in the XL process. This will ensure that the transition period is completed for any BIF before its trial burn and permitting begin.
  • Consolidated Clean Air Act and RCRA Permitting Requirements. Dow's BIF units are subject to both Clean Air Act and RCRA permitting requirements. Dow believes the substantive and procedural requirements in these regulations have substantial duplication. Dow seeks a permitting process that would prove the substantive information once and be applied to both regulatory requirements. Dow will present its specific suggestions for streamlining the RCRA and Clean Air Act permitting requirements while continuing to provide the information necessary to protect human health and the environment at a much lower cost.
  • Consolidation of Clean Air Act and RCRA Regulatory Compliance Requirements. In addition to the streamlining opportunities in the permitting process, Dow believes that it can comply with certain Clean Air Act and RCRA regulatory requirements more efficiently. Specifically, Dow could omply with the substantive requirements of the various fugitive emissions monitoring requirements under the Clean Air Act and RCRA more cheaply. Dow will shortly provide the Agency more details about this component.

Dow is also considering other potential proposals which will reduce environmental compliance costs and allows the use of our environmental resources to improve the environment rather than generate paperwork. We will shortly provide you details of these proposals for the XL process.


Dow believes that the public is an essential stakeholder in the XL process. Dow would welcome the Agency's suggestions to ensure the public is informed and has an opportunity to evaluate the XL proposal. Dow proposes several actions to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the XL proposal once it has been formally accepted by the Agency:

  • Briefings for Local Elected Officials. After we present our detailed XL proposal to the Agency, we would seek to discuss it with state, regional, and local officials who are important stakeholders in Dow's communities.
  • Briefings for Environmental Interest Groups. After we present our detailed XL proposal to the Agency, we would seek to discuss it with environmental interest groups that have expressed concerns with Dow and with the XL process.
  • Briefings for General Public. After we present our detailed XL proposal to the Agency, we would seek to discuss it with the local general public.
  • Risk Asssessments for the BIF Units. The public has substantial concerns with the emissions of dioxins and furans. To place Dow's dioxin and furan emissions in perspective, Dow proposes to conduct a risk assessment, for each site, of its dioxin and furan emissions from all BIF units in the XL project. This risk assessment will use Dow's proejcted dioxin and furan emissions at the end of the XL project. Dow would share the results, the data, and the risk assessment methodology with the Agency. Dow would also agree to share the final results, data and risk assessment methodology with the public.

We would welcome the oportunity to discuss the process of public stakeholder involvement with the Agency so that we can identify interested parties early in the process, define the role of stakeholders, and craft the process to solicit their input.


We propose the following schedule to complete EPA's formal acceptance of this XL proposal:
1. Dow will provide a more detailed, specific XL proposal by December 9, 1996. This proposal will contain complete information concerning Dow's proposal for commitments, expectations, and schedule.
2. Dow proposes to meet with EPA Headquarters and Region VI officials during the week of December 17, 1996 to explain its detailed proposal.
3. Dow pledges to respond to any questions and concerns so that the project can be accepted into the XL process by mid-January, 1997.

We welcome EPA's previous attention to our proposal and its commitment to achieving success with Dow. We believe Dow's commitments will substantially benefit the environment and give the public access to important data about its BIF operations. Dow pledges to work with the Agency to answer any questions tht arise about the specific XL proposal for the BIF units. Therefore, we believe that the XL project is the best forum for providing informationt to the Agency concerning these units. Because we believe that the schedule for the information request is too ambitious given both the scope of the BIF issue before the State and the Region and the status of the XL proposal, we propose to attempt to reach consensus on the Agency's Section 3007 information request regarding Texas and permitting information request regarding Louisiana during the meeting the week of December 9th.


Richard A. Olson
Senior Environmental Associate
Environmental & Health Regulatory Affairs

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