Enforcement and Inspection

Don’t Forget New Source Review for Major Modification

In light of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recent enforcement settlement with the nation’s second largest carbon black manufacturer, remaining industry members might consider taking the time to review their operations, past and present, to avoid similar repercussions.

The settlement cites alleged violations of the CAA’s New Source Review (NSR) preconstruction permitting program and the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) provisions as they apply to major reconstruction or modifications at existing major sources. The NSR and New Source Performance Standards (NSPSs) apply to specific categories of stationary sources in a range of industries, many of which have been targeted in past National Enforcement Initiatives.

Under the NSPS regulations, sources are required to undertake initial performance testing to demonstrate compliance, and many also must perform continuous emission monitoring to demonstrate that compliance is ongoing, and stack testing according to the agency’s National Stack Testing Guidance, if applicable.


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In addition, when a facility decides to modify or reconstruct an existing facility, additional NSR permitting requirements may apply. Depending upon the type and extent of modifications and whether emissions increase or not, several exemptions may lesson these requirements. However, according to 40 CFR Part 60 Section 60.15(a), “An existing facility, upon reconstruction, becomes an affected facility, irrespective of any changes in emission rate.”

Most NSR preconstruction permits are issued by delegated state or local air pollution control authorities according to their State Implementation Plans (SIPs), although the EPA may also issue the permits in some cases. The permits use required analysis of potential new sources to determine what construction  can be allowed, what emission limits must be met, and how often the source must be operated. The NSR program has three types of permit requirements and sources may be required to meet any or all of them including:

1) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits required for new major sources or existing major sources planning a major modification in an attainment area,

2) Nonattainment NSR permits for new major sources or existing major sources planning a major modification in a nonattainment area, and

3) Minor source permits for sources that do not fall under the first two permits but have the potential to interfere with attainment or maintenance of a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), violate the control strategy in place in a nonattainment area, or to limit source emissions to avoid PSD or nonattainment requirements. Minor source permits are managed under SIPs and may be customized by states to meet minimum requirements.


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Specific to the carbon black manufacturing case, which allegedly violated the PSD provisions of the NSR, it is important to understand that the PSD provisions are in place specifically to ensure that changes made to existing major source facilities are compatible with SIP strategies and protect human health and the environment, and as such, require several important steps be taken:

1) Installation of Best Available Control Technology (BACT) – determined on a case-by-case basis considering energy, environmental and economic impact. BACT may include such things as additional control equipment, fuel-cleaning or treatment and innovative fuel combustion techniques.

2) An Air Quality Analysis – performed to demonstrate that emissions resulting from a new or modified major source, when combined with existing source emissions, will not cause or contribute to violations of applicable air regulations or SIPs.

3) An Additional Impacts Analysis – to assess the impacts on soils, vegetation and visibility caused by increased emissions and from residential, commercial and industrial growth in the area associated with the source of the emission.

4) Public participation in the NSR process.

Each of these are activities are required to take place prior to beginning construction, reconstruction or modifications at an existing major source during the New Source Review process, which is required in SIPs under the CAA.