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Score One for the Cement Industry (For Now)

by Mark W.
Mark W.

On December 20, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) issued a final rule amending the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) from the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry (40 CFR Part 63, Subpart LLL) and the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Portland Cement Plants (40 CFR Part 60, Subpart F). This final rule was issued in response to a consent decree, and is the culmination of over two (2) years of reconsideration and litigation surrounding these regulations. The NESHAP for the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry applies to both major and area sources.

The final versions of the Portland cement rules, which are closely tied to the Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incinerator (CISWI) rule and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Non-Hazardous Secondary Material (NHSM) rule, adopt the less stringent limits and requirements that were sought by industry, raising the emissions limits and extending the compliance deadlines until September 2015. Facilities may request an additional year, if needed. U.S. EPA is changing the compliance date because the rule revisions make it necessary for the cement industry to reassess its emission control strategies. New source standards continue to apply to all sources which commenced construction or reconstruction after May 6, 2009. You may recall that the NHSM rule had the effect of reclassifying some cement kilns as CISWI units (there are 23 kilns now classified as CISWI units according to U.S. EPA), and U.S. EPA removed those kilns classified as CISWI units from the data used to establish the emission standards. U.S. EPA then recalculated each of the NESHAP floors based on this dataset (the 2010 dataset minus CISWI units) and made “beyond-the-floor” determinations based on the recalculated NESHAP floors.

Opponents of the rules are expected to challenge U.S. EPA (again), claiming that the delay in the compliance deadline “will cause between 1,920 and 5,000 Americans to die prematurely from exposure to cement plants' soot pollution,” and “will also allow cement plants to pump approximately 33,000 additional pounds of mercury into the environment.” In contrast, Portland Cement Association (PCA) President Greg Scott welcomed the rules, saying they “will provide PCA members, and the cement industry generally, the additional time needed for compliance with the revised standards. Such time is essential to properly complete the planning, engineering, permitting, testing and construction of the various new technologies that will be necessary to implement the revised standards.” Mr. Scott added that the rules, while “still extremely challenging, are now realistic and achievable,” suggesting that the industry is unlikely to sue over the regulation.

So what is different in the final versions of the rules? For starters, the compliance basis for the Particulate Matter (PM) standards changed from a Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS) to a manual three (3) run stack test. The PM emission limit level and averaging time basis were amended. Finally, affected sources must establish a site-specific parametric operating limit for PM, which requires continuous monitoring. Corrective actions based on an exceedance of the parametric limit are also required.

The final rules retained the stack emission standards for mercury (Hg), hydrogen chloride (HCl), and total hydrocarbons (THC) under the proposed amendments. The final rules also include provisions that account for commingled Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) emissions from coal mills that are an integral part of the kiln, set work practice standards for periods of startup and shutdown, and retain the affirmative defense for civil penalties for violations of emission limits occurring as a result of a malfunction.

 

The table below summarizes the emission limits that are now effective.

MM = 1,000,000

a Also applies to NSPS modified sources.

b Also applies to NSPS new and reconstructed sources.

c Three-run stack test required every 30 months; stack test average is used to determine compliance and set kiln-specific operating limit. Continuous monitoring required to demonstrate operating limit compliance.

A link to the U.S. EPA’s website regarding the rules is available here.

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