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Water: Tannery

Leather Tanning and Finishing

Revisions to Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards

Summary

EPA is making a minor revision to the wastewater pretreatment standards for facilities in the leather tanning and finishing industry that conduct unhairing operations and discharge pretreated wastewater to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). This regulation would eliminate the federal standard for the upper (alkaline) pH limit for wastewaters from these facilities, although individual wastewater treatment plants would still be able to set an upper (alkaline) pH limit based on local circumstances. This regulation responds to changes in the operating conditions for certain types of leather tanning facilities and to assessments of the effects of these discharges at POTWs.

Background

In the mid-1980s, EPA established federal standards on the upper limits of the alkalinity of wastewater that facilities in the leather tanning and finishing industry that conduct unhairing operations may discharge to publicly owned treatment works. These limits were set to protect the operations of the POTW.

In 1993, the Leather Industries of America, a trade association for the leather tanning industry, petitioned EPA to waive the upper pH limit for selected operations to reflect changes that have taken place in these facilities. In response to this petition, EPA assessed the technical basis for the existing pretreatment standards and found that the upper (alkaline) pH limits for certain leather tanning operations are not universally required to avoid upsets and other operational problems at POTWs because these leather tanning plants generally have their own pretreatment facilities. EPA also determined that tannery wastewater alkalinity and its buffering capacity might even be beneficial to some wastewater treatment operations.

Effect of Agency Action

EPA estimates that this rule will affect approximately twenty-five leather tanning and finishing plants and the POTWs that receive their wastewater. Even though the federal standards are eliminated, these POTWs may still set an upper (alkaline) pH limit based on local circumstances.

EPA promulgated these changes as a "direct" final rule because operations and worker safety and health at POTWs are likely to be improved, and because the Agency does not expect significant adverse comments. In the event that adverse comments are submitted, EPA is issuing the same regulatory changes as "proposed" regulations so that the Agency can respond to the comments and then revise the rule. These concurrent actions facilitate the regulatory review process. The notice was published in the Federal Register on July 8, 1996.

For Further Information

For additional information on the Revisions to Leather Tanning and Finishing Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards, please see leather tanning contacts

To view the complete text of the Federal Register notice on the Internet containing the Revisions to Leather Tanning and Finishing Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards: http://www.epa.gov/EPA-WATER/1996/July/Day-08.


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