Annual ALL4 Look – Ahead to 2015
Posted: January 26th, 2015Authors: Dan D. Neal L. Colin M. Roy R. Eric S. Susie B. All4 Staff
2014 ushered in many new air quality regulatory requirements, some of which have already reached their effective compliance date, others that will become effective in the coming weeks, months and years. Equally prominent in 2015 will be the implementation of the stringent National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2); the designation of new nonattainment areas for the 2012 fine particulate matter (PM2.5) NAAQS; and, debates regarding the proposed ozone NAAQS. Factoring in the continued uncertainty of the impact of regulations for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and the finalization of several national emission standards for hazardous air pollutant (NESHAP) revisions based on risk and technology reviews (RTR), it all adds up to many of the same pressures in 2015 that were felt by industry in 2014 in order to continue to operate in compliance while remaining competitive.
For the most part, the more difficult and costly environmental regulations center on energy use. Conversions to cleaner fuels like natural gas and ultra-low sulfur fuel oil are attractive right now, but large swings in fuel pricing as recent as last winter, and instability in long-term fuels pricing, make predicting the cost of energy very uncertain. Operational flexibility for large energy consuming industries is key, and that often starts with an air quality operating permit with as much fuel flexibility as possible.
We have queried ALL4 staff members regarding what they think 2015 may hold from an air quality management and compliance perspective. Several topics make repeat appearances and several more are related to common, historical themes. Presented below in no specific order are ALL4’s top air quality issues for 2015. Related questions may be posed directly to the authors whose contact information follows each article.
Winds of Change for Air Dispersion Modeling | Dan Dix
2015 is going to be a big year for air quality modeling regulations. As laid out by Tyler Fox at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Regional/State/Local (RSL) Modelers Workshop held in Salt Lake City in May 2014, U.S. EPA is planning to propose amendments to 40 CFR Part 51 Appendix W – “Guideline on Air Quality Models” (The Guideline). This will be the first time that amendments have been made to The Guideline since AERMOD was promulgated in November 2005, and potentially could include a substantial rework of The Guideline. The intent of the proposed amendments is to incorporate the latest guidance that has been provided via numerous memorandums since 2005. Most of this guidance has been associated with the 1-hour SO2, 1-hour NO2, and the 24-hour and annual PM2.5 NAAQS. The proposed amendments to The Guideline are currently scheduled for spring of 2015. The 11th Conference on Air Quality Modeling in Research Triangle Park, NC in June 2015 (tentatively scheduled for June 10th and 11th) will then serve as the public hearing for the proposed amendments. Final rulemaking is slated for spring of 2016.
As has been discussed in many 4TR articles and blog post over the years (ALL4 Air Quality Modeling Update, SO2 NAAQS Implementation: The Great American Update, PM2.5 Air Quality Modeling Updates, Recent Court Case Sets 1-Hour SO2 NAAQS and Air Quality Modeling Precedent, PM2.5 Modeling Guidance Released by U.S. EPA), demonstrating compliance with the NAAQS as part of New Source Review (NSR) permits can be the driving force in dictating projects. Therefore, I would encourage everyone to take this once in a decade opportunity to comment on proposed amendments to The Guideline. This is especially important since the regulated community was not able to comment on the guidance memorandums that dictate the modeling approaches that are now used in NAAQS modeling demonstrations for SO2, NO2, and PM2.5, and that are planned to be incorporated into the Guideline.
Please contact Dan Dix at (610) 933-5246, extension 118 or email@example.com to the discuss air quality dispersion modeling needs for your facility.
SO2 Data Requirements Rule | Colin McCall
U.S. EPA promulgated the new 1-hour SO2 NAAQS on June 2, 2010. The NAAQS was established at a level of 75 parts per billion (ppb) expressed as the three (3) year average of the 99th percentile of daily maximum concentration. So what does a NAAQS set in 2010 have to do with looking ahead to 2015? As we move into 2015, we see that U.S. EPA’s implementation process is only just beginning!
When the NAAQS was initially promulgated in 2010, U.S. EPA expressed concerns with the ability of respective state agencies to adequately evaluate attainment status within their states. There is a scarcity of ambient SO2 monitors, and those monitors that do exist were not sited to capture short-term (i.e., 5-minute to 1-hour) maximum concentrations. U.S. EPA cited these obstacles in developing guidance that called for dispersion modeling of individual facilities to be widely used in establishing NAAQS designations. Given the stringency of the NAAQS and the conservative nature of dispersion models, U.S. EPA’s plan to model any facility emitting greater than 100 tons of SO2 per year (tpy) was met with widespread comment in opposition to the plan. The opposition led to stakeholder workgroups hosted by U.S. EPA to solicit public comments on the designation process. The stakeholder workgroups led to the issuance of formal proposed rulemaking known as the Data Requirements Rule (DRR).
There are already 30 areas that have been designated as SO2 nonattainment areas based on available ambient monitoring data. U.S. EPA proposed the DRR in April 2014 to address the remaining areas for which no ambient monitoring data are available. The DRR serves as a guideline for state agencies in how to evaluate attainment or nonattainment with the 1-hour NAAQS. The DRR calls for the evaluation of specific facilities that emit SO2 in excess of the following thresholds in core based statistical areas (CBSA) meeting certain population levels. U.S. EPA solicited comments for various thresholds for implementing the DRR as noted in the table below.
Facilities with emissions in excess of the DRR thresholds, and in certain instances smaller facilities in the vicinity of those larger facilities, will be evaluated by the state agency using one (1) of the following approaches:
- Conducting dispersion modeling to evaluate attainment. The actual emissions rates over a three (3)-year period would be used to conduct the modeling, as opposed to potential to emit (PTE) emission rates that are typically used for NAAQS and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) analyses.
- Installing one (1) or more ambient monitors in the vicinity of the facilities to collect ambient data for use in establishing designations. In most cases, dispersion modeling would be used to identify those areas where ambient monitors would be located.
The effort and cost associated with conducting dispersion modeling and installing and maintaining ambient monitors will fall directly on the facilities being evaluated (in most cases). State agencies do not have resources or funding available to address the DRR. Regardless of the approach used to evaluate attainment (modeling or monitoring), the impacts on facilities will be direct and could result in capital spending to install additional pollution controls or the need to perform fuel switching among other control/operational possibilities. Under the proposed DRR, modeling and ambient monitor installation efforts would be initiated in 2016. As such, 2015 will be a year to plan ahead for the rule and to formally determine which attainment approach will be used. As always, understanding the conclusions that will result from the DRR ahead of time will be beneficial and will allow facilities to plan for the costs and operational impacts. The final DRR is now projected for September 2015, so there is still time to plan ahead.
The Return of RACT in Pennsylvania | Roy Rakiewicz
Updated Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) requirements will be implemented in Pennsylvania in the spring of 2015 with the expected promulgation of “Additional RACT Requirements for Major Sources of NOX and VOCs” (RACT 2) under Chapter 129 of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control regulations. This action comes as no surprise to readers of ALL4’s blog digest (So What’s in the Final Version of the Pennsylvania RACT 2 Rule? We are Glad That You Asked and More on RACT 2), which has been reporting the development and progress of the RACT 2 rule since late in 2012. The final RACT 2 rule was approved by the Pennsylvania Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee (AQTAC) on November 7, 2014 for consideration by the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) for adoption.
The final RACT 2 requirements will apply to major oxides of nitrogen (NOX) or volatile organic compound (VOC) emitting facilities that were in existence on or before July 20, 2012 and will affect emissions units at such facilities for which no RACT requirement has been established. The applicability threshold for the RACT 2 rule is 50 and 100 tpy for NOX and VOC, respectively, including the five (5)-county Philadelphia region (i.e., Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties). The term “has been established” pertains to specific limits as defined in the Pennsylvania rules under “Standards for Sources” at 25 Pa. Code:
- §§129.51-129.52c (surface coating processes)
- §§129.54-129.69 (petroleum refineries, VOC storage tanks, bulk gasoline terminals and plants, degreasing operations, graphic arts systems, pharmaceutical production, and tire production)
- §§129.71-129.73 (synthetic organic chemical/polymer manufacturing fugitive emissions, manufacture of surface active agents, and aerospace manufacturing and rework)
- §129.77 (use or application of adhesives, sealants, primers and solvents)
- §§129.101-129.107 (wood furniture manufacturing)
- §§129.301-129.310 (glass melting furnaces)
The RACT 2 requirements will supersede the requirements of a RACT permit issued under 25 Pa. Code §§129.91-129.95 (i.e., case-by-case RACT), except in cases where an existing RACT permit specifies more stringent requirements.
The RACT 2 rule differs significantly from the original Pennsylvania RACT rule (i.e., 25 Pa. Code §§129.91-129.95) as it specifies presumptive RACT limits and defines specific numeric RACT limits and work practice standards for certain combustion units (i.e., boilers) and combustion sources (e.g., engines, combustion turbines, cement kilns, etc.) versus the case-by-case approach of the original rule. Facilities will also have the option to prepare and submit case-by-case RACT analyses for affected emissions units that cannot meet specific numeric standards under the rule. Where applicable, facilities may also propose facility-wide or systems-wide RACT averaging plans for approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). Case-by-case analyses will be required for emissions units with potential NOX or VOC emissions that are greater than 5 and 2.7 tpy, respectively, at affected facilities and that are not subject to a presumptive or numeric RACT standard. All case-by-case analyses will be required to be prepared in accordance with the current provisions at §129.92(a)(1)-(5), (7)-(10) and (b). All unit specific RACT proposals will be due six (6) months after the effective date of the RACT 2 rule.
Compliance demonstrations under RACT 2 will be generally required within one (1) year of rule promulgation. Compliance will be achieved by the use of continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) or by initial and periodic emission testing programs conducted in accordance with Chapter 139 of the Pennsylvania Regulations. Compliance extensions of up to three (3) years may be granted by PADEP in response to a petition if compliance will be achieved through the installation of an air pollution control device.
There are several provisions of the RACT 2 rule that are not fully defined or understood by both PADEP and the regulated community. Such unresolved issues are anticipated to be addressed in the preamble to the final rule.
The RACT 2 regulations will impact all major NOX and VOC sources in Pennsylvania and the impacts could be significant both on a cost and compliance basis. Affected facilities should already have a general understanding regarding how the RACT 2 rule will impact their operations and should be actively engaged in planning to demonstrate RACT 2 compliance by early 2016. Please contact Roy Rakiewicz at (610) 933-5246, extension 127 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss RACT 2 applicability and the next steps for your facility.
The Economics of Air Pollution Control | Susie Bowden
In December 2014, ALL4 participated in the U.S. EPA and Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA) information exchange, during which we learned that U.S. EPA will be updating the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) Control Cost Manual. The manual has not been revised since 2003, and the latest revision (which will be the seventh edition) is being prepared in response to a 2014 Omnibus Bill. The seventh edition has a scheduled release date of September 30, 2017, but the revisions will occur in phases [four (4) to five (5) chapters per year] during the following timeline:
- Fiscal Year 2015
- Complete revisions to NOX control technologies such as selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR). U.S. EPA is focusing on these NOX technologies since the existing chapters are approximately 12 years old and since regional haze and ozone NAAQS regulatory developments have impacted how NOX control is achieved.
- Review by U.S. EPA and public of SNCR and SCR chapters
- Complete revisions to the VOC control measures for flares, incinerators, carbon absorbers, and refrigerated condensers
- Begin revisions to the Background and Cost Estimation chapters
- Review by U.S. EPA and public of Background and Cost Estimation chapters
- Begin revisions to acid gas (SO2) control technologies (e.g., scrubbers)
- Fiscal Year 2016
- Review by public of VOC control measure chapters
- Compete revisions for acid gas control technologies
- Begin revisions to PM control measures, including baghouses/fabric filters, wet scrubbers, and electrostatic precipitators
- Begin revisions to generic equipment manual chapters, which include hoods, ductwork, and stacks; permanent total enclosures, and monitors
- Fiscal Year 2017
- U.S. EPA and public review of PM control measures and generic equipment, followed by their revisions to the appropriate chapters
All chapters will be made available for public comment through a notice of data availability (NODA) in the Federal Register. So, what does this mean for 2015? Projects that required NOX RACT (see paragraph above) or Best Available Control Technology (BACT) evaluations will have an updated tool to prepare the economic feasibility analysis (annualized cost per ton of NOX removed). Facilities will want to make sure they are using the most current cost manual methodologies when preparing these evaluations; otherwise, the economics of your control device requirements may be skewed.
The Regulatory Evolution of Climate Change | ALL4 Staff
Over the course of 2014 we witnessed U.S. EPA propose the following three (3) components of the “Clean Power Plan:”
- The January 8, 2014 proposed Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources (i.e., the NSPS) for New Electric Generating Units (EGUs)
- The June 18, 2014 proposed Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing EGUs (Federal Register Notice)
- The June 18, 2014 proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Modified and Reconstructed EGUs (Federal Register Notice)
What is the status of each of these three (3) proposed rules and how can EGUs expect to be impacted during the course of 2015? There has been little activity concerning U.S. EPA’s January 8, 2014 NSPS for New EGUs, but U.S. EPA has recently communicated its intent to finalize by “mid-summer.” What if you are an existing EGU? An existing EGU by itself won’t be immediately affected by the June 18, 2014 Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing EGUs because these are guidelines for states. In this action, U.S. EPA proposed state-specific rate-based goals for CO2 emissions from the power sector, as well as guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to achieve a 30% CO2 emissions decrease nationwide by 2030. However, what if you have an existing EGU that plans to either modify or reconstruct in the future – how might you be affected? U.S. EPA has communicated its intent to also finalize the June 18, 2014 Carbon Pollution Standards for Modified and Reconstructed EGUs by ”mid-summer 2015,” However, it is suspected that U.S. EPA may miss the June 2015 deadline due to U.S. EPA extending the comment period for this proposed rule by six (6) weeks. We will continue to keep you posted concerning activity related to the Clean Power Plan and expect that climate regulations will be ramping up during the third quarter of 2015.
GHG Reporting Rule
Through the Mandatory GHG Reporting Rule, U.S. EPA collects and publishes emissions data from individual facilities that are subject to one (1) or more of the over 40 individual subparts of 40 CFR Part 98. To date, 40 CFR Part 98 has been amended more than 25 times since its initial publication in October 2009 in order to add new source categories and to make both clarifying and technical amendments. U.S. EPA was especially active during the 4th quarter of 2014 during which time they finalized amendments to 40 CFR Part 98 on October 24, November 25, and December 11, and proposed new amendments on December 9. Now is the time to evaluate the impact of these recent amendments on your facility’s GHG reporting program. The amendments impact 23 of the rule’s reporting source categories and, at a minimum, will require use of a new alternative electronic verification tool during the upcoming reporting season. For “inputs to equations” that have been determined not to be confidential business information (CBI), U.S. EPA will be collecting historic data this reporting season much like they did during 2013. For “inputs to equations” recently determined to be CBI, U.S. EPA will require use of a new Inputs Verification Tool during the current e-GGRT reporting season. If you are responsible for reporting under 40 CFR Part 98 by March 31, 2015, we encourage you to review these recent amendments with your ALL4 Project Manager and understand how you will be impacted during the current reporting season and beyond.
If you have questions regarding your facility’s status with regard to GHG reporting, permitting, or regulation, please contact ALL4.
Yes, More Toxic Release Inventory Revisions | Megan Uhler
Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) submittals are due to both U.S. EPA and a facility’s respective state agency by July 1 of each year pursuant to Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). On September 30, 2014, U.S. EPA added a new “nonylphenol category” to the list of toxic chemicals subject to reporting under this program. This new category will apply to the reporting year beginning January 1, 2015 (for reports due July 1, 2016). This category includes the chemicals specifically noted below:
- 104–40–5 4-Nonylphenol
- 11066–49–2 Isononylphenol
- 25154–52–3 Nonylphenol
- 26543–97–5 4-Isononylphenol
- 84852–15–3 4-Nonylphenol, branched
- 90481–04–2 Nonylphenol, branched
Nonylphenols, which belong to the general category of organic compounds known as alkylphenols, are used in the manufacturing of antioxidants, lubricating oil additives, laundry and dish detergents, emulsifiers, and solubilizers.
As indicated in U.S. EPA’s September 30, 2014 Federal Register Notice, you may be potentially affected by this action if your manufacture, process, or otherwise use nonylphenol. If you are responsible for reporting to the TRI program, we encourage you to review this new reporting requirement and understand the likelihood of your manufacturing, processing, or otherwise using nonylphenols. The 2015 calendar year is the best time to perform a review at your facility so that you are actively tracking your 2015 material usages and prepared to report new nonylphenol data by July 1, 2016.
Getting Your Data Right | Eric Swisher
Data collected by continuous monitoring systems (CMS) that are used for compliance purposes are by far the most transparent look at your facility’s operations. These data include emissions and process data in a simple, time-stamped format. These data can be reviewed during an internal compliance audit, can be requested by U.S. EPA as part of an Information Collection Request (ICR), or can be subpoenaed by an interested third-party during litigation. Now is the time to gain a better understanding of both your data and your data management systems with an objective to develop a database that will withstand the scrutiny of corporate auditors, regulatory agencies, and interested third parties. The process starts with an understanding of why you monitor in the first place and continues with what type of data to collect and how long the data records should be retained. Understanding important aspects about your data before someone else asks the following questions is critical.
- How are CMS data quality assured?
- How are the data collected and tagged (i.e., monitoring codes and processing codes)?
- How are valid data used to construct compliance averages?
- How are these averages validated?
- How should data be used in compliance determinations and reports?
Many companies manage data with a Data Acquisition and Handling System (DAHS). But, do you understand how the data are handled? How averages are built? If alarms trigger correctly? A DAHS or Environmental Management System (EMS) is not a “magic black box” where all of your data go in and compliance demonstrations are “magically” spit out. In reality, the DAHS/EMS is an amalgam of data points, validations, averaging periods, alarm sequences, and reporting tools. Do you REALLY know how your system works? Believe it or not, applicable regulations and permit conditions are not written in a manner that can be directly “programmed” into a data management system. Do you know who made and documented the decisions around these grey areas in your system? In 2015, let’s get your data right.
Raising the Compliance Bar | ALL4 Staff
Not long ago, U.S. EPA published its Next Generation Compliance strategy, which consists of five (5) components intended to promote and achieve environmental compliance:
- More effective regulations and permits
- Advanced monitoring
- Electronic reporting
- Expanded transparency
- Innovative enforcement
U.S. EPA and many states have been using one (1) or more of these components individually as part of routine compliance and enforcement requirements. For instance, TRI and Mandatory GHG reporting requirements require electronic reporting, and the resulting data are readily available to the general public via U.S. EPA websites. However, with the formal framework of Next Generation Compliance publicized in a three (3)-year strategic plan published in October 2014, the regulated community needs to be aware of U.S. EPA’s thoughts on increased monitoring and public availability of a facility’s performance.
U.S. EPA’s Next Generation Compliance strategy is based on a notion of more simplistic regulations and permit requirements that contain ways for a facility to monitor its own performance to prevent violations. U.S. EPA believes that advances in monitoring technology are at the point at which facilities should be able to correct a problem before a violation occurs. Much of this monitoring can be (and already is, in many cases) tied to real-time reporting networks available to the public that will, in U.S. EPA’s thought process, “inspire facilities to improve compliance” (i.e., public accountability drives better compliance performance; or for the most cynical, “compliance shaming”). Electronic reporting is now the default assumption for new regulations according to U.S. EPA policy.
Are we crying wolf? Not likely. According to U.S. EPA’s Strategic Plan, “advanced monitoring, electronic reporting, and transparency are being incorporated into civil and criminal case resolutions, making it easier to know if facilities are complying and the public is protected.” Consider the following:
- The recently proposed amendment to 40 CFR Parts 63, Subpart CC and Subpart UUU that requires all petroleum refineries to deploy passive time-integrated benzene samplers at the fenceline of their facility to alert them of fugitive emissions from leaks of regulated process equipment.
- Recent Clean Air Act settlements for two (2) plants (Indiana and Pennsylvania) that required similar fenceline monitoring to be established based, in part, on community consultation.
- And it is not just air quality – requirements in Ohio for signage at wastewater outfalls; U.S. EPA’s monitoring buoy in the Charles River that continuously collects and transmits water quality data; and a combined sewer overflow monitoring program in Washington, D.C.
So what does this mean for a regulated facility in 2015? It means that the rules of the game are changing, and it is necessary to identify what you know and what you do not know about your environmental compliance status. The next step is to develop a compliance management system to keep you on the path of compliance success. For instance, are you sure that you do not have fugitive emissions from valves and flanges just because you do not see or smell anything? Do yourself a favor and rent an inexpensive toy, an infrared camera, and point it at your fugitive sources – you might be surprised by what you “see.” If you see darkish type plumes that look like smoke, it could be benzene emissions that you never knew about, permitted, or reported. This is a typical example of the type of “advanced monitoring” that is at the core of Next Generation Compliance and must be part of your compliance strategy moving forward.
A final consideration, which also is a key element of U.S. EPA’s Next Generation Compliance – is independent verification – in other words, the often dreaded third-party audit. While not a regulatory requirement (yet), proactive facilities will take advantage of external auditors as a means to evaluate their current compliance status through a fresh set of eyes and provide a means to address potential issues before U.S. EPA, your state agency, or neighbors identify the issues for you.
Be Ready for New OSHA Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements Beginning January 1, 2015 | Neal Lebo
Requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) related to recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses are promulgated at 29 CFR Part 1904. These regulations, first issued in 1971, were subsequently amended to partially exempt businesses in certain lower hazard industries from the requirement to record occupational injuries and illnesses, and to revise the requirements for employers to report work-related fatalities and certain work related hospitalizations to OSHA. On September 18, 2014, OSHA issued a final rulemaking that changes the requirements for employers to report hospitalizations and certain injuries, and changes the longstanding list of partially exempt industries. This means that if unfortunate events result in certain injuries to, or the hospitalization of employees, your obligations to report such incidents to OSHA have changed. If you are in a relatively low-hazard industry but, under the previous rules, had to keep injury and illness records, you may be in luck and be able to stop recordkeeping in 2015. On the other hand, if you were one (1) of the lucky ones that was partially exempt from the injury and illness recordkeeping requirements in the past, on January 1, 2015, your luck may have run out.
OSHA’s previous regulation at 29 CFR §1904.39 required employers to report all work-related fatalities and all incidents causing in-patient hospitalizations of three (3) or more employees to OSHA within eight (8) hours. All employers covered by the Occupation Safety and Health (OSH) Act, including employers who are partially exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with OSHA’s reporting requirements at 29 CFR §1904.39. The new final rule leaves in place the previous requirement that employers report all work-related fatalities to OSHA within eight (8) hours, but also adds additional reporting obligations to report all work-related in-patient hospitalizations that require care or treatment, all amputations, and all losses of an eye to OSHA within 24 hours.
Under the new final rule, beginning January 1, 2015 employers must report the following events:
- Each fatality resulting from a work-related incident. The report must be made within eight (8) hours of the death. This requirement applies to all fatalities occurring within 30 days of a work-related incident. (This is the same as the previous regulation.)
- Each in-patient hospitalization resulting from a work-related incident. The report must be made within 24 hours of the hospitalization. This requirement applies to all inpatient hospitalizations occurring within 24 hours of a work-related incident.
- Each amputation resulting from a work-related incident. The report must be made within 24 hours of the amputation. This requirement applies to all amputations occurring within 24 hours of a work-related incident.
- Each loss of an eye resulting from a work-related incident. The report must be made within 24 hours of the loss of an eye. This requirement applies to all losses of an eye occurring within 24 hours of a work-related incident.
If employers do not learn about a reportable fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye when the event happens, they must report to OSHA within a specified time period after the event has been reported to the employer or to an employer’s agent. Employers are not required to report events resulting from motor vehicle accidents that occurred on a public street or highway. Employers are required to report events resulting from motor vehicle accidents that occurred anywhere else, including in a construction work zone on a public street or highway, or on other roadways, or off-road.
The new final rule provides employers with three (3) options for reporting the fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye, as follows:
- By telephone or in person to the OSHA Area Office that is nearest to the site of the incident.
- By telephone to the OSHA toll-free central telephone number.
- By electronic submission using the fatality/injury/illness reporting application located on OSHA’s public web site.
OSHA’s regulation at 29 CFR Part 1904 requires employers with more than 10 employees in most industries to keep records of occupational injuries and illnesses at their establishments. Employers covered by these rules must record each recordable employee injury and illness on an OSHA Form 300 (300 Log), which is the ‘‘Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,’’ or equivalent. Employers must also prepare a supplementary OSHA Form 301 ‘‘Injury and Illness Incident Report,’’ or equivalent, that provides additional details about each case recorded on the 300 Log. Finally, at the end of each year, employers are required to prepare a summary report of all injuries and illnesses on the OSHA Form 300A, which is the ‘‘Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,’’ and post the form in a visible location in the workplace. OSHA’s previous regulation at 29 CFR §1904.2 partially exempts establishments in certain lower-hazard industry groups from the requirement for keeping injury and illness records. Prior to this rule change, lower-hazard industries were those industries that were classified within Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code major industry groups 52–89 and that had low average Lost Workday Injury and Illness (LWDII) rates.
The new final rule changes the list of partially exempt industries by now basing partial exemption of industry groups on four-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. A link to the NAICS codes is available here.
OSHA estimates that 199,000 establishments that had previously been partially exempt will no longer be exempt. These establishments employ approximately 5.3 million employees and account for an estimated 173,000 injuries and illnesses per year. In addition, 119,000 establishments that previously were not exempt have become partially exempt. These establishments employ approximately 4.0 million employees and account for an estimated 76,000 injuries and illnesses per year. So check that new list carefully to see which group you are in starting January 1, 2015.
Last but not Least: The Energy Sector | Roy Rakiewicz
2014 proved to be a very interesting year for the energy sector across the board and 2015 looks to be quite challenging as well. Impacts will be felt across the board with the finalization of several proposed major regulatory revisions; state and local efforts to limit or even ban hydraulic fracturing; increased recordkeeping and reporting burdens; local and regional opposition to new natural gas pipelines; and the federal government’s “Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions”. New and ongoing regulatory activities combined with current market oversupply conditions could result in a challenging year for energy producers. Several key regulatory issues to plan for in 2015 are summarized below.
A key regulatory event of 2014 was the proposed revision to the refinery NESHAP that is expected to be finalized later this year as a result of the mandated RTR. Among many other requirements, U.S. EPA proposed an amendment to 40 CFR Parts 63, Subpart CC and Subpart UUU in July 2014 that requires all petroleum refineries to deploy passive time-integrated benzene samplers at the fenceline (where fenceline is equivalent to the facility property line) of their facility to alert them of fugitive emissions from leaks of Subpart CC and UUU process equipment. The proposed amendment also requires the operation of an on-site meteorological monitoring system in conjunction with the fenceline benzene monitoring. Refineries would have to calculate the rolling annual average within 30 days of completion of each 14-day sampling episode. If the rolling annual average exceeds the 9 µg/m3 concentration action level, within five (5) days of calculating the rolling annual average, the refinery must initiate a root cause analysis to determine the primary and contributing causes of the elevated benzene concentrations.
U.S. EPA has also proposed to amend the operating and monitoring requirements for flares at petroleum refineries. The proposed revisions are complex, far reaching, and if promulgated as proposed, will affect all flares at petroleum refineries. U.S. EPA’s stated rationale for the proposed revisions is that the current requirements for flares included in the 40 CFR Part 63 Subpart A General Provisions at §63.11(b) are not adequate to ensure compliance with the applicable Refinery MACT requirements. The proposed changes remove the references to flare requirements in the NESHAP General Provisions at §63.11(b) from Refinery MACT 1 and 2. U.S. EPA is proposing to specify all refinery flare operational and monitoring requirements in 40 CFR Part 63, Subpart CC (Refinery MACT 1) and cross-reference these same requirements in 40 CFR Part 63, Subpart UUU (Refinery MACT 2). The proposed revisions address pilot flames, visible emissions, flare tip velocity, and include new flare operating limits that specify minimum combustion zone net gas heating value, lower flammability limit, and/or combustion zone combustibles concentration. The proposal includes substantive monitoring requirements as well for vent gas flow rate, steam assist flow rate, premix air flow rate, and specific vent gas characteristics (e.g., heat content, total hydrocarbon content, or gas composition).
Natural Gas Production
The U.S. EPA finalized revisions to 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO on December 31, 2014. The revisions were generally viewed in a positive light by unconventional producers as the revisions clarify the requirements associated with completion activities and provide further clarification regarding several other important rule provisions. However, the finalization of the “low pressure well” definition as presented in the 2012 Subpart OOOO, could complicate completions on conventional wells by requiring reduced emissions completions (RECs) in situations where well pressure may not be sufficient to overcome the back pressure of the REC equipment. One provision of Subpart OOOO that did not change is the requirement for RECs on well completions after January 1, 2015 – the last compliance date identified in Subpart OOOO. While many producers have been actively preparing for this date, the documentation and compliance requirements are now reality which will undoubtedly change how state regulatory agencies and U.S. EPA view required notifications and compliance reports.
State and local air pollution control agencies are also taking a harder look at well development projects. For example, while Pennsylvania has developed and implemented permit exemption criteria for unconventional natural gas wells in the state, the notification, monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements associated with the exemption are essentially equivalent to a general permit for unconventional well development. Local air quality impacts associated with well development activities have resulted in opposition to new development activities. On the extreme end, municipalities and even states are working towards and have even announced total bans on the practice of hydraulic fracturing.
Climate Action Plan
The Obama administration announced their Climate Action Plan (Plan) in March of 2014 which outlined a plan to reduce methane emissions. While the Plan identifies four (4) sources of methane emissions (e.g., landfills, coal mines, agriculture, and oil and gas operations), the primary target of the Plan appears to be oil and gas operations as evidenced by the development and release of five (5) “white papers” related to sources of methane emissions in the oil and gas industry (e.g., compressors, emissions from completions and ongoing production of hydraulically fractured oil wells, leaks, liquids unloading, and pneumatic devices). The white papers were released in April 2014 for external peer review. The documents have been reviewed and the documents and comments can be viewed here. U.S. EPA was originally expected to announce “policy decisions” regarding methane emissions in the fall of 2014. However, U.S. EPA experienced a few delays and the policy decisions were eventually released on January 14, 2014 in the form of a Fact Sheet. In short, U.S. EPA plans to “build on” the requirements of 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO by addressing both VOC and methane emissions from affected sources and possibly expanding the applicability of Subpart OOOO. U.S. EPA is also planning to “extend VOC reduction requirements” to existing oil and gas operations located in ozone nonattainment areas by issuing Control Techniques Guidelines (CTGs) that identify “cost effective” VOC control technologies for oil and gas operations.