EPA Seeks Additional Comments On Parts of Hazardous Air Emissions Rule

EPA officials announced they will reopen for public comment certain aspects of the agency's National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters, issued in September 2004. The agency is taking this action in response to a petition filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Integrity Project.

Facilities may comply with the requirements of the September 2004 final rule by demonstrating that their emissions have minimal impact on human health. This approach, known as a health-based compliance alternative, is outlined in appendix A of the rule. In this reconsideration, EPA is requesting additional public comment on the approach a facility owner or operator may use to demonstrate eligibility for the health-based compliance alternatives.

The groups collectively requested reconsideration of the following aspects of the final rule:

  • Adoption of "no control" maximum achievable control technology levels for certain subcategories and pollutants.
  • Establishing risk-based alternatives on a plant-by-plant basis.
  • Presence of health thresholds for hydrogen chloride and manganese.
  • Consideration of background pollution and co-located emission sources.
  • Establishing a health-based compliance alternative for a pollutant that serves as a surrogate for other inorganic pollutants.
  • Promulgating a health-based compliance alternative that allows low-risk sources of manganese emissions to comply with the MACT limitations for metals without counting manganese.
  • The procedures for demonstrating compliance with the health-based alternatives.
  • Consideration of emissions during periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction.
  • The cost-effectiveness of the health-based alternatives.

The environmental groups' petition also requests a stay of the health-based alternatives. Although EPA is not granting the petitioners' request for a stay, the agency will provide a 45-day comment period, which begins with the reconsideration notice's publication in the Federal Register.

EPA estimates that this rule will reduce total annual air toxics between 50,600 tons - 58,500 tons per year at full implementation (in the 5th year after promulgation), with compliance costs estimated to total $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion in the same period.

Boilers burn fossil fuel and/or other substances such as wood and agricultural residues to produce steam. The steam is used to produce electricity or provide heat. Process heaters heat raw or intermediate materials during an industrial process. Boilers and process heaters are used at facilities such as refineries, chemical and manufacturing plants, and paper mills. In addition, these boilers may stand alone to provide heat for shopping malls and university heating systems.

For more information on this action, visit http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/t3/fact_sheets/boilerrecon_fs.html.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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