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Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Proposes a Non-rule Standard Permit for Marine Loading Operations

Posted: May 7th, 2021

Authors: Paul S. 

In December of 2020, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) proposed a new non-rule Standard Permit (non-rule SP) for Marine Loading Operations (MLOs).  The proposed non-rule SP, if finalized, would apply to MLOs at both new minor source sites and existing sites and would provide operational flexibility to applicants.

TCEQ currently issues Standard Air Permits for specific operations that are well characterized.  Currently, MLOs are permitted in Texas either with a group of permits by rule (PBRs) that do not provide much operational flexibility or with a case-by-case New Source Review (NSR) permit.  By providing the opportunity to use a standard permit, TCEQ is giving facilities an option with greater flexibility than is afforded under PBRs, with an application process that is more efficient than that of a case-by-case permit.  According to TCEQ’s background summary, the proposed non-rule SP could be “used to authorize stationary facilities, or groups of facilities, at a site that conducts MLO activities.”  The non-rule SP can cover activities related to MLOs such as gaseous or liquid loading and unloading, storage tanks, control equipment, fugitive sources and more as listed in the Authorized Facilities and Activities section of the non-rule SP.  This standard permit cannot be applied to any project that constitutes a new major stationary source, nor can it be applied to authorize MLOs for crude petroleum and natural gas.

Specific marine loading requirements contained in the MLO SP were developed from BACT from marine loading, as well as currently existing case-by-case NSR permits for marine loading.  These requirements include routine inspection of all equipment, minimum distance from operations to the property line, equipment minimum discharge parameters, and continuous hydrogen sulfide (H2S) monitoring.

Operational requirements in the proposed SP can also be specific to certain processes or equipment.  Loading requirements include using submerged or bottom loading, venting when loading materials with a true vapor pressure greater than or equal to 0.5 absolute pounds per square inch (psia), and keeping an emissions record of calculated emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC).  Equipment, including flares, capture systems, and tanks, have requirements specific to the types of equipment authorized.  For example, flares are required to be equipped with a continuous flow monitor and a composition analyzer.  Further, the proposed SP includes extensive fugitive emissions requirements, such as Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program requirements.

Having a Standard Permit for your MLOs can be advantageous.  General conditions, tabulated concentration limits, and operational requirements provide compliance options with flexibility.  Further, a standard operating permit can be issued more quickly than a minor NSR permit that would cover many MLOs facilities.  However, despite operational flexibility, a standard permit is not tailored to each applicant, which means it may not be applicable for your site.

If you have any questions concerning the proposed MLOs non-rule SP or would like help analyzing whether this option would be the best way to permit your new MLOs, please email Paul Sarles at psarles@all4inc.com.

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