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Residual Risk and Technology Review Completed for a Pulp and Paper Industry NESHAP

Posted: August 15th, 2012

Author: All4 Staff 

On July 31, 2012, U.S. EPA finalized the residual risk and technology review conducted for the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for pulp and paper production areas of mills using the kraft, sulfite, semi-chemical, and soda pulping processes (40 CFR Part 63 Subpart S). The Clean Air Act [Section 112(f)(2)] requires U.S. EPA to evaluate the risk to public health remaining after the application of a NESHAP and to revise the standards, if necessary, to provide an ample margin of safety to protect public health or to prevent an adverse environmental effect.

U.S. EPA’s review concluded that there have not been  developments in practices, processes, and control technologies since Subpart S was originally promulgated that would result in cost effective additional levels of control beyond the current NESHAP requirements. In addition, the U.S. EPA’s residual risk analysis concluded that the risks from the Subpart S pulp and papermaking source category are acceptable, and that the current standard protects the public health with an ample margin of safety.

However, there were some noteworthy actions included in the July 31, 2012 final rule that will be effective once the rule is published in the Federal Register. U.S. EPA added a requirement to repeat air emissions performance testing once every five (5) years for facilities complying with the standards for kraft, soda and semi-chemical pulping vent gases, sulfite processes, and bleaching systems. U.S. EPA contends that the repeat performance testing requirement will help to ensure that facilities maintain control systems properly over time and therefore, promote on-going compliance with the standard. Specifically, repeat air emissions testing will be required for mills complying with the kraft pulping process condensate standards using a steam stripper. Repeat testing will not be required for knotter or screen systems with HAP emission rates below the criteria in 40 CFR §63.443(a)(1)(ii), decker systems using fresh water or paper machine white water, or decker systems using process water with a total HAP concentration less than 400 ppmw. The action also requires mills to submit electronic copies of performance test reports to the U.S. EPA’s WebFIRE database. The first of the 5-year repeat tests must be conducted within 36 months after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

In this action, U.S. EPA has also eliminated the startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM) exemption consistent with the 2008 Sierra Club v. EPA decision. Emission limits must therefore be met at all times, and mills are no longer required to develop and implement an SSM plan. U.S. EPA has added an affirmative defense to civil penalties for violations of emission standards that are caused by malfunctions in which a facility must demonstrate that specific criteria are satisfied to demonstrate the violation was caused by a sudden, infrequent and unavoidable event. Although the rule no longer requires mills to develop and maintain an SSM Plan, ALL4 believes that mills should think twice before celebrating by tossing their SSM Plans into the recycle bin. The procedures and checklists contained in an SSM Plan could someday be valuable in support of an affirmative defense claim.

Lastly, the action added four additional test methods for measuring methanol emissions from pulp and paper processes, as alternatives to EPA Method 308 of Part 63, Appendix A.

While the Subpart S has not been substantially changed, affected facilities will need to become familiar with the nuances of this action and be prepared to comply once it appears in the Federal Register. To review the July 31, 2012 notice in detail, it can be accessed here


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