EPA Proposes New Clean Air Act Requirements for Previously Exempt Site Remediation Activities

On Friday, May 13, 2016, EPA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would subject site remediation activities under CERCLA and RCRA to Clean Air Act hazardous air pollutant requirements. Comments on the proposal are due by Monday, June 27, 2016.

EPA’s proposal follows up on a March 25, 2015 letter that granted reconsideration of two issues in the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Site Remediation. According to EPA, “[t]he Site Remediation NESHAP applies to site remediation activities that involve the removal and treatment of hazardous substances from contaminated media (soil or groundwater), the contaminated media itself, or the hazardous substances by themselves. It applies to certain types of site remediation equipment used to clean up hazardous substances containing organics that potentially could be released to the atmosphere as hazardous air pollutants (HAP).” The reconsideration petitions that prompted this action were filed by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups back in December 2003, during the first term of the Bush Administration.

EPA’s proposed rule would amend the current NESHAP to remove the exemptions for site remediation activities under CERCLA and RCRA and it would require compliance at “stand alone site remediations” with the potential to emit 10 tons per year of a single HAP or 25 tons per year for a combination of HAPs. New sources (those constructed on or after the publication date of the proposed rule) would be required to be in compliance on the effective date of final rule or upon startup, whichever is later.

According to the Agency, the types of facilities most likely to be subject to the proposed rule include, “[o]rganic liquid storage terminals, petroleum refineries, chemical manufacturing facilities, government facilities such as military operations, and manufacturing facilities using organic materials.” EPA notes that “the Agency expects 69 additional major additional major source facilities would become subject to the rule as a result of the proposed amendments.”

The fact sheet can be accessed here, and the proposed rule can be accessed here.