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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive
(Hard Chrome Plating)

by Randy Taylor, Advanced Tooling Corporation
April, 2008


Starting a Chrome Plating Shop

Q. I work for a real estate company in Lincolnton NC. I have a client who is interested in buying a general industrial property. However the property has not been used for this type of business use in awhile. My buyers are wanting to turn into a chrome plating/ polishing company. Just a small business but I have searched the internet for OSHA and EPA regulations for NC and it has become a maze trying to find what I need to know. Can you help me find the person I need to ask or the direct website that can help or let me know what types of ventalation do they need? Do they need public water source? Can they use a well? What types of public awareness do they need to do? How can I find out all these questions? I know that chrome plating can be very dangerous because of the enviromental and health issues and I just want to know how they can take care of the problems , get the building approved and not have any violations in the future. I would appreciate any info you can give.

A. I don’t want to discourage your clients, however, please tell them that they will probably need several times more money than they think they need to start a chrome plating shop.  There will be a long lead time from when they start organizing the business to when they can actually begin operations.  For example, the air permitting process alone could take six months or longer and they will most likely need to hire an engineering consultant to help them through that process. Also, there are a lot of modifications that will need to be made to the building, if it has not been used as a plating shop.  For example, a secondary containment system must be installed to prevent spills from seeping through to the ground.  Plus, they need air and water pollution control systems and hazardous waste storage/handling equipment.

My good friends at the Surface Technology Resource Center (STERC) have supplied the following information with regard to your question.  The STERC specializes in environmental compliance assistance for metal finishing companies.

Two key state agencies that your clients will need to deal with are:

North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources  (air permit for chrome tanks, hazardous waste ID number, must submit wastewater baseline report before operating), and

North Carolina Dept. of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Division  (rules regarding chromium in the workplace, general rules for electroplating processes, and general rules for manufacturing businesses).

Your clients will also need to deal with the local sewer authority for their wastewater discharge permit. Using a well as a source of water is okay, but they cannot use a septic tank for discharging electroplating wastewater.  They must connect to a city/county sewer system for process wastewater.

More information and points of contact for the applicable rules can be found here:

1.) Air permitting and wastewater requirements (general information for platers),  

2.) Hazardous waste (North Carolina),

3.) Air Permitting (North Carolina),  

4.) Occupational Safety and Health (North Carolina),  

5.) Stormwater permit (or no exposure certification) (North Carolina),    

For more information, you can contact George Cushnie (, 434-286-7781) at the STERC.




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You should consult with legal counsel and appropriate authorities before interpreting any regulations or undertaking any specific course of action.

Please note that many of the regulatory discussions on STERC refer to federal regulations. In many cases, states or local governments have promulgated relevant rules and standards
that are different and/or more stringent than the federal regulations. Therefore, to assure full compliance, you should investigate and comply with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.