4 The record articles

The Shoe Has Dropped But Most Companies Don’t Know It – It’s Called PADEP RACT 2

Posted: December 11th, 2015

Authors: John S. 

About 400 facilities in Pennsylvania probably don’t know they have been given a New Year delivery even before the dropping of the ball in Times Square.  The delivery is not a bundle of joy brought in by a stork, it’s a count-down clock and it’s already ticking.  That is the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) Reasonably Available Control Technology regulations for existing major facilities to assess whether they need to install additional air emission controls or implement additional work practice measures to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides (NOX).  These new “RACT 2” regulations have completed the most critical approval steps and are essentially now being processed through the final administrative steps before publication as final, possibly as late as March of next year.  However, the final compliance date for the regulations, as mandated by U.S. EPA, has been set as January 1, 2017.  RACT is a federal requirement resulting from the fact that Pennsylvania is in the Northeast Ozone Transport Region (OTR) and therefore, Pennsylvania has an obligation under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) to require this control technology assessment.

A common question posed by affected facilities is “Do I have to submit anything to PADEP if my facility is in compliance”?  The short answer is “No”.  So, where is the problem?  A large number of source types have specific presumptive emission limits provided in this new regulation.  If you know that your affected emissions units already meet those limits (and that is a big IF), you can wait until PADEP knocks on your door (sometime after January 1, 2017) and asks you to provide proof of compliance.  Well, “waiting” is probably not something that you will want to do.  First and foremost, you will need to gather recent testing or source monitoring data (i.e., continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) data) that proves you are in compliance.  Second, if your sources are not in compliance, or if there is no presumptive RACT 2 limit specified for your source, you have six (6) months from final publication of the regulations to figure that out, prove why controls are not “reasonable”, submit a plan with a proposed RACT limit, or submit a Plan Approval application to install controls. Six months from now to figure all this out may seem like a lot of time, but it isn’t since you will likely  need to evaluate actual emission rates (i.e. stack testing), provided you do not have a CEMS.

Some of the new presumptive emission limits, especially for natural gas fired boilers and process heaters, are very tight.  Some companies that installed new low-NOX burners under the previous RACT regulations from the 1990’s could be challenged to meet the new limits.  So don’t assume you don’t have any problems because you are burning natural gas, a “clean fuel”.  Also note that “reasonably available” controls are in the eye of the beholder, which includes not only PADEP but the U.S. EPA, other state agencies, local regulatory authorities (e.g., Philadelphia and Allegheny County), and third party non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  Now is the time to be in action; before those sugar plums come dancing and the champagne rings in the New Year.  Want to find out more about RACT 2, give me a call, John Slade, Senior Consultant for All4 at 717.822.0009, or call Ron Harding, Project Manager, at 610.933.5246 extension 119.


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