4 The record articles

Subpart MM for Pulp and Paper Mills – Worst Anniversary Gift Ever?

Posted: October 11th, 2018

Authors: Lindsey K. 

October 11 is a memorable date for me because it’s my wedding anniversary – this year is especially memorable because it marks 10 years!  But my 11th anniversary will be memorable for pulp and paper mills across the country, as October 11, 2019 is the compliance date for the amended provisions of 40 CFR Part 63, Subpart MM (National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Chemical Recovery Combustion Sources at Kraft, Soda, Sulfite, and Stand-Alone Semichemical Pulp Mills).

Although a year away, the compliance date is practically around the corner due to the shortened two-year compliance timeline.  Only two years were provided for mills to come into compliance since the numerical emissions limits and electrostatic precipitator (ESP) parameter monitoring requirements did not change (i.e., U.S. EPA did not anticipate the amendments to require any capital projects such as ESP upgrades).  However, we’ve identified several provisions that will clearly impact how mills comply with the rule, and several other provisions that are not so clear and will require some time to figure out.  It’s important to understand how your mill will comply and what actions need to be taken now to ensure compliance is achieved by October 11, 2019.

Here are a few suggestions for beginning to understand your mill’s status and establishing a compliance strategy:

  1. Review your permit. Understand how Subpart MM is currently addressed and how it may need to change.  Is it incorporated by reference, copied word for word, or customized by your state agency?  If provisions in the amended rule are different than your permit, how should your permit be revised to reflect future compliance obligations?
  1. Identify your permit’s expiration date. If your permit expires three years or more from the October 11, 2017 promulgation date (i.e., October 11, 2020 or later), it must be reopened to address the new applicable requirements within 18 months of promulgation (i.e., by April 11, 2019).  Here’s a helpful blogpost on evaluating your options.  If you’re not required to reopen your permit, are there advantages to incorporating the changes sooner than later?
  1. Review your current reporting practices. Reporting obligations will shift from quarterly to semiannually.  With a compliance date in the fourth quarter of 2019, how will you address the first semiannual report?  Are you prepared to quantify emissions for each failure to meet an emissions limit or operating limit?
  1. Review the reporting template. As with most rule amendments these days, Subpart MM now requires electronic reporting via U.S. EPA’s Compliance and Emissions Data Reporting Interface (CEDRI).  Mills should already be familiar with submitting electronic Notifications of Compliance Status (NOCS) and test results from other rules, but semiannual reports under Subpart MM will need to use the prescriptive “form” (i.e., spreadsheet) provided by U.S. EPA.  The latest version of the reporting spreadsheet is available in the rule docket.
  1. Review your historic opacity measurements. The monitoring parameter allowances for opacity from recovery furnaces and lime kilns equipped with ESPs are decreasing (but also shifting to a semiannual basis).  Based on what you’ve historically reported, would your mill comply with the new allowances?
  1. Review your current continuous monitoring practices. Subpart MM now references Performance Specification 1 for COMS.  Does your COMS currently comply with PS-1?  Does it need to?  How do your current monitoring parameters compare with the rule’s new monitoring requirements, such as for Automatic Voltage Control (AVC)?  What changes are needed to your DAS to account for periods of startup and shutdown and the new opacity allowances?
  1. Review your historic test data. Although the numerical emissions limits did not change, repeat performance testing is required by October 13, 2020 (yes, a year later than the compliance date).  Some of the sources required to be tested may not have been tested for some time.  What do your past results look like?  Do those sources operate in a similar manner now or would you expect the results to be different?
  1. Document your decisions. There are provisions of the rule that require some level of interpretation, so when you come across something in the rule that is not clear (and you will), be sure to document the justification behind your compliance approach.  For example, what types of records will you keep?  Are your 3-hour averages on a rolling or block basis?


There is plenty more to evaluate, but taking the steps above is a good place to start.  We’re prepared to help you with any or all of these steps and more to understand how the Subpart MM amendments will impact your mill, well before my 11th anniversary next year.  Hopefully my husband will get me something better than an amended air quality regulation.

Contact me at lkroos@all4inc.com or 610.933.5246 x122 with questions!


    Sign up to receive 4 THE RECORD articles here. You'll get timely articles on current environmental, health, and safety regulatory topics as well as updates on webinars and training events.
    First Name: *
    Last Name: *
    Location: *
    Email: *