4 The record articles

If It is June, It Must Be a NCASI Boiler MACT Session

Posted: July 10th, 2015

Author: All4 Staff 

Each June, ALL4’s Atlanta, Georgia office participates in the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement’s (NCASI’s) Southern Regional Meeting. This annual rite of summer allows ALL4 to reconnect with our pulp and paper and wood products sector clients and regulatory contacts, make new connections, and have a lot of fun. We also take advantage of attending and presenting at the various workshops and technical sessions. As a member of ALL4’s 4 Rules initiative, the Boiler MACT technical session is a “can’t miss” session to learn about the latest regulatory rumblings and how mills are dealing with the challenges of this rule. The technical presentations in this year’s session focused on emissions and parametric monitoring, along with the management of data produced by these monitoring systems. These discussions were preceded by an update on the status of the proposed reconsideration rule, and the resulting uncertainty that is impacting mills across the country, particularly for those mills that have not received a one (1)-year extension to the compliance date of January 31, 2016. Some highlights of the discussions are provided below [with an acknowledgement to the presentation materials provided by NCASI and the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) during the meeting]:

  • The proposed reconsideration of the rule is not expected to be finalized until the end of the year or the first quarter of 2016. This timing is unfortunate because it will be after the deadline to file for an extension to the compliance date (i.e., by October 1, 2015). Why the delay? The Clean Power Plan has taken priority in the pecking order for regulatory action and this is diverting resources from promulgating the proposed reconsideration. The same issue is the reason for the delay in finalizing the proposed Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials changes from spring 2014, in which paper recycling residuals, construction and demolition wood, and creosote railroad ties would be classified as categorical non-waste fuels.
  • Startup and shutdown: Not all boilers can burn the listed clean fuels in the current rule, particularly at those mills that have limited access to natural gas. The inclusion of dry biomass in the final reconsidered rule as a listed clean fuel for units with multi-clones would improve operational flexibility for many units.
  • Particulate matter (PM) controls during startup: The current rule requires (with some exceptions) venting emissions to the main stack and engaging all applicable air pollution control devices when you start firing non-listed clean fuels. Excepted air pollution control devices must be started as expeditiously as possible. Electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) currently are not one (1) of the excepted air pollution control devices. It is critical for ESPs to be added to the list of excepted air pollution control devices in the final reconsidered rule due to concerns related to safety interlocks and to prevent fouling/damage to equipment.
  • Opacity operating limit: Multi-fuel biomass boilers equipped with dry PM controls cannot meet the 10% opacity operating limit parameter over its operating conditions, particularly during times when the biomass is wet. Because PM limits for existing solid fuel boilers range from 0.02 – 0.44 lb/MMBtu, a single 10% opacity level is not necessarily appropriate as a monitoring parameter for all subcategories. During times when the opacity operating limit is exceeded, the PM emissions may be below the emissions limit. The situation gets further complicated because facilities can petition for an alternative operating limit using the procedures found in 40 CFR §63.8(f) (relating to use of an alternative monitoring method). According to NCASI, in recent discussions between U.S. EPA and an affected facility that submitted a request for an alternate opacity operating limit, U.S. EPA stated that they wanted the facility to instead follow the procedures in 40 CFR §63.7570(b)(2), which states that approval of alternative opacity emission limits in 40 CFR §63.7500(a) is done per 40 CFR §63.6(h)(9) (relating to compliance with opacity and visible emission standards). This is not an appropriate approach because 10% opacity is not an emission limit. U.S. EPA is effectively subjecting units to a more stringent PM standard than the established MACT floor as this process will not be feasible to complete prior to the compliance date. Facilities can adequately demonstrate to U.S. EPA through the 40 CFR §63.8(f) process that a higher opacity level can be appropriate for specific situations. To resolve this issue, U.S. EPA would need to delete 40 CFR §63.7570(b)(2) so it will be clear that a request for an alternate opacity operating parameter limit is accomplished under 40 CFR §63.8(f) per 40 CFR §63.7570(b)(4) and 40 CFR §63.7500(a)(2).

As the compliance date inches closer, the road to compliance seems to be getting more complicated. ALL4 continues to work with our clients to comply with Boiler MACT, and the insights we learn through our active participation in trade associations like NCASI continue to be invaluable as we all work through this compliance journey together. Although there is plenty of uncertainty, the January 31, 2016 compliance date remains firm, and facilities must continue pursuing their initial compliance obligations, including energy assessments, tune-ups, performance testing, fuel sampling, and developing the required compliance plans. Visit our Boiler MACT Resources page for more information, and contact me for additional guidance and takeaways from the NCASI Boiler MACT session.


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