AMENDMENTS TO THE GENERAL PROVISIONS FOR AIR TOXICS STANDARDS
- On March 31, 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final amendments to the General Provisions to the national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) and other specific national emissions standards. See more information below to obtain a copy of the final amendments.
- EPA is promulgating these amendments in response to a July 29, 2003, petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to reconsider certain aspects of the May 30, 2003 amendments to the General Provisions.
- The General Provisions establish a common set of requirements for developing rules or standards to regulate emissions of toxic air pollution.
- Among other things, the General Provisions require an affected source to develop a startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM) plan. An SSM plan describes how a source will operate to minimize emissions during periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction.
- The General Provisions require a source owner or operator to report to the state or local permitting authority whether or not the plan was followed and what actions were taken to minimize emissions.
- The final amendments allow a source to deviate from its SSM plan, but as required by the General Provisions, it must minimize emissions at all times during SSM periods.
- The final amendments call for actions taken during SSMs to be reported if the emission limit in the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standard is exceeded during the SSM period. This requirement allows the public an opportunity to determine if sources met their general duty to minimize emissions.
- The final amendments also modify requirements for EPA’s
response to public requests for copies of SSM plans by:
- giving the Administrator, or the delegated permitting authority such as a state or local air agency, discretion in determining whether to obtain a copy of a SSM plan in response to a public request;
- eliminating the requirement that the Administrator obtain a copy of a source’s SSM plan in response to a public request;
- ensuring that the public will continue to have access to plans already obtained by the Administrator; and
- allowing the public to review reports filed by the source that describe what actions were taken to minimize emissions during periods of SSM.
- Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to regulate sources of 188 listed toxic air pollutants. On July 16, 1992, EPA published a list of industrial source categories that emit one or more of these air toxics. For the listed categories of sources, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to develop emission standards for air toxics. Most of these standards require the source to develop and implement SSM plans that describe how a source will minimize emissions during periods of SSM.
- Air toxics, also called hazardous air pollutants, are those pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health problems in humans.
- Industrial facilities subject to EPA's technology based air toxics standards have a duty to minimize emissions at all times.
- Because control and process equipment can fail during operation and because operating conditions vary during startup and shutdown of a unit, exceedances of an emission standard may, in some situations, be unavoidable.
- In planning for such occurrences, a facility is required to establish specific procedures to minimize emissions during these events.
- EPA originally promulgated General Provisions for air toxics rules in 1994. The General Provisions contain general requirements regarding applicability, compliance, testing, monitoring, reporting, recordkeeping that apply to most or all of the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) Standards.
- On May 30, 2003, EPA amended the General Provisions for air toxics standards to clarify that a member of the public may request a copy of a source's SSM plan as long as the request was specific and reasonable.
- The NRDC objected to the "specific and reasonable" criteria and maintained that the public had the right to unrestricted access to SSM plans. On July 29, 2003, NRDC petitioned EPA to reconsider the May 30, 2003, amendment with respect to the public's ability to access SSM plans.
- On July 29, 2005, EPA proposed amendments in response to the NRDC’s petition. These amendments emphasized that the public has access to the plans already available to EPA and that the General Provisions’ requirement to minimize emissions during SSM must be followed in place of the emissions standard during these times.
- Interested parties can download the notice from EPA's web site on the Internet at the following address: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/t3/fr_notices/generalprov_final_reconsider.pdf (PDF, 158 pp, 342 KB)
- Today's amendments and other background information are also available either electronically at www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at EPA's Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Room B-102, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2004-0094). The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center is (202) 566-1742.