Enforcement and Inspection, Regulatory Developments

EPA Seeks Elimination of $28 Million Monitoring Requirement

A requirement to place wireless continuous monitors on containers at off-site waste and recovery operations (OSWROs) to detect leaks from pressure relief devices (PRDs) would be eliminated under an EPA proposal (August 7, 2017, FR).

The proposal responds to an industry petition for reconsideration of the requirement, which is included in the Agency’s 2015 residual Risk and Technology Review (RTR) of the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for OSWROs. Jointly submitted by the American Chemistry Council and Eastman Chemical Company, the petition argued that the transitory nature of containers at OSWRO sites would make the installation of continuous monitoring devices technically impossible. Moreover, the petitioners said other federal regulations cover leak detection of OSWRO containers, and therefore, the RTR requirement is redundant.

The EPA agreed with this reasoning. Elimination of the requirement will save facilities subject to the NESHAP $28 million in capital costs and $4.4 million a year in operational and maintenance costs, according to the Agency.

Containers on the Move

OSWROs receive certain wastes, used oil, and used solvents from off-site locations for storage, treatment, recovery, or disposal. According to the petitioners, portable containers in OSWROs include cylinders, drums, tote tanks, cargo tanks, isotainers, railcars, and over-the-road tanker vehicles. These containers vary drastically in size, and many of them are not owned by the facility. Depending on the facility, the PRDs on the various containers on-site at any one time can be as few as five or in the hundreds. The containers remain on-site just long enough for the contents to be unloaded—the time frame can vary from a few days to a few weeks or months but could be as long as 12 months, depending on the operational activities at the facility. These variabilities would make the installation, management, and removal of monitors on each container a compliance nightmare, the petitioners argued.

Also, the petitioners provided the EPA with 3 years of data on PRDs on containers at 19 facilities. The data show that there was only one PRD on a container that had an emissions release. The release occurred while nitrogen pressure was being applied to a tank truck to off-load waste material. The leak resulted in approximately 40 pounds (lb) of volatile organic compounds released over 8.5 hours; about 0.4 lb of the release was an OSWRO hazardous air pollutant.

Other Regulations

Also, say the petitioners, almost all of the mobile containers received from off-site and used in OSWROs are subject to U.S. Department of Transportation and/or Federal Railroad Administration regulatory requirements to ensure their safe design, construction, and operation.

In its proposal, the EPA further notes that the OSWRO NESHAP already requires facilities to comply with the inspection and monitoring requirements in the Agency’s container NESHAP (40 CFR Part 63, Subpart PP).

More Frequent Inspection Under Consideration

Based on the above factors, the Agency has preliminarily decided that the existing NESHAP PRD inspection and monitoring requirements are effective and sufficient, particularly given the high cost and difficulty of conducting continuous monitoring as contemplated by the RTR amendment.

The Agency is also soliciting comments on several related items, including whether to impose more frequent inspection requirements for any filled or partially-filled OSWRO container that remains on-site longer than 60 days and whether any additional inspection requirements should apply to all containers or only to larger containers.

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