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Foreign nuts and bolts OK'd for stimulus water projects - EPA

WaterWebster.org Staff Report

Aug. 10, 2009

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued a waiver of Buy American requirements for small amounts of foreign-made parts in $6 billion worth of state and municipal water projects.

Such “de minimis” foreign iron, steel and other manufactured goods cannot make up more than five percent of the total cost of materials in the project, the EPA announcement said.

A shortage of U.S.-made small parts or difficulty in determining where they are made, including some types of nuts, bolts, tubing and gaskets, reportedly has been slowing approval of state and municipal drinking water and wastewater treatment and distribution projects that rely on stimulus funds.

The EPA announcement said it determined “it would be inconsistent with the public interest” to apply the Buy American regulations to a minor part of a project, particularly if it causes contractors to waste a great deal of time and resources tracking down incidental components.

Every large water project uses “thousands of miscellaneous, generally low-cost components that are essential for, but incidental to, the construction and are incorporated into the physical structure of the project, such as nuts, bolts, other fasteners, tubing, gaskets, etc.,” the announcement said.

“The country of manufacture and the availability of alternatives is not always readily or reasonably identifiable prior to procurement in the normal course of business; for other incidental components, the country of manufacture may be known but the miscellaneous character in conjunction with the low cost, individually and (in total) as typically procured in bulk, mark them as properly incidental,” the announcement added.

The EPA waiver, effective July 24, was published August 10 in the Federal Register.

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