Volume 85 Issue 32 | p. 29 | Concentrates
Issue Date: August 6, 2007

Asbestos Ban Allows Chlor-Alkali Use

Department: Government & Policy | Collection: Safety

A Senate committee last week approved legislation to ban most uses of asbestos, but included an exemption for some chlor-alkali plants. The Environment & Public Works Committee unanimously adopted the bill, S. 742, which would prohibit commercial distribution of all materials containing cancer-causing asbestos. The ban, however, would not apply to existing chlor-alkali plants that use asbestos diaphragms to separate chlorine, caustic soda, and hydrogen. Few alternatives to asbestos exist for this use, according to the chemical industry, which sought the exemption in the bill. Robert J. Simon, managing director of the American Chemistry Council's Chlorine Chemistry Division, says chemical makers are encouraged by lawmakers' support of "legislation that will allow the chlor-alkali industry to continue to safely use asbestos." Under S. 742, EPA would regularly review chlor-alkali plants' exemption. The agency could revoke the exemption if it finds that use of the asbestos diaphragms poses an unreasonable risk to health or the environment. The bill next moves to the full Senate for consideration.

 
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