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Trichloroethylene Reduction In Rhode Island

75% Reduction of TCE Usage for Twelve Companies

Reported using 26,500 pounds of TCE for cleaning in 2006

At end of 2008 grant period, only 7,000 pounds still being used

Year 1 2006-7 Project

Year 2 2007-8 Project

In the summer of 2006, EPA Region 1 provided funding for the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to conduct air monitoring in the Providence, Rhode Island area (specifically Olneyville). This uncovered TCE at elevated levels. Therefore, EPA Region 1 made TCE the focus of intense scrutiny over the next year as part of its environmental justice efforts. As part of the plan to target TCE users, a list of approximately 40 companies was generated and subsequently visited by a member of EPA Region 1 and inspectors from the RI DEM to determine the status of TCE use at these facilities. Of these companies about 30 were still in operation in 2006.

EPA Region 1 contacted the Toxics Use Reduction Institute's Laboratory (TURI Lab) to provide technical assistance and/or training to the companies using TCE. The TURI Lab determined that the initial step in this effort would be to gather these companies in a one-day hands-on training workshop. Prior to the workshop, dirty parts that had been collected by the EPA Region 1 staff from 10 companies during the initial investigations were brought to the TURI Lab and testing was conducted to determine which alternatives would be appropriate for each company's specific needs.

The initial workshop had 29 attendees from 12 companies. During the workshop companies brought their dirty parts to be cleaned with the TURI Lab identified alternatives. The workshop allowed the 12 participating companies to see first hand that alternatives do exist that are effective for their needs. In addition, the workshop gave these small companies the opportunity to talk with their peers to see what others have tried or experienced. This networking provided the companies with a sense of comfort knowing that they were not alone.

Following on the success of the workshop, the TURI Lab continued to work with six of the companies that attended. TURI's Field Implementation Specialist went on-site with each company to assist in the adoption of the identified alternatives. The TURI Lab provided these companies with a small cleaning unit (immersion and/or ultrasonic tank) and concentrated samples of cleaning alternatives. Cleaning was conducted by both the Field Implementation Specialist and the worker(s) involved with cleaning at the company. During the field work, the cleaning process was adjusted to meet the needs of the company.

From September of 2006 through April of 2006, half (15) of the identified companies in the Providence area using TCE participated in the hands-on-training workshop. Six of the original attendees from the workshop participated in piloting projects. Most of these have or will be eliminating or reducing TCE in their facilities.

Heidi training session for chemicals

Many of the companies that participated in the workshop and on-site assistance made materials for the Department of Defense (DoD). When the DoD learned of TCE being used by its suppliers, the DoD took a vested interest in the project, encouraging their suppliers to eliminate the use of this chemical.

According to the Region 1 staff that worked on the project, there were more companies that need or would benefit from this type of a project to develop sustainamble business practice. To assist these companies, a short tip sheet was created by EPA Region 1 and the TURI Lab based on the work conducted for TCE reduction in Rhode Island.

In the first year of work in RI, TURI and EPA were able to assists in the reduction of over 10,000 pounds of TCE in cleaning applications.


Read about Year 2 of this project