Kelley Drye Wins Big Victory for Steel Industry on Manganese

Washington,DC -- Kelley Drye secured a ruling from the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on behalf of the Steel Manufacturers Association, the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the Specialty Steel Industry of North America, not to list manganese as a hazardous constituent under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Manganese is an essential human nutrient that is critical to normal neurological development. The decision is a big victory for the steel industry, the nation’s largest consumer and user of manganese, and will save the industry an estimated $1 billion per year.

In the final rule, EPA concedes that there are numerous questions outstanding regarding the toxicity of manganese and the economic impact of listing this element as a RCRA hazardous constituent,” said Joseph Green. Quite simply, the vast weight of evidence shows that manganese is not properly considered toxic.”

EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database makes clear that manganese deficiency is of greater concern than excess exposure.The Agency decided against listing manganese as a RCRA hazardous constituent or to establish a universal treatment standard (UTS) for manganese. The final rule, which lists as hazardous certain wastes generated by the inorganic chemical manufacturing industry, was signed on October 31st, as required by a court ordered deadline, and appeared in theNovember 20th Federal Register.

EPA indicated that while it may revisit the manganese listing in the future, no such rulemaking was under way at this time.

The steel industry was particularly concerned that EPA had failed to consider the significant impacts that a manganese listing would have, including additional costs for the treatment and disposal of existing hazardous wastes at steel mills. In addition, listing manganese as a hazardous constituent would have stigmatized and greatly threatened the market for slag, which is a valuable co-product of the steel manufacturing process and sold for use in a variety of construction, agricultural, and industrial uses. As emphasized in comments submitted to EPA, these substantial potential costs stood in marked contrast to the minimal risk posed by manganese.

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