4 The record articles

Update: U.S. EPA Proposes Overdue Refinery Air Rules

Posted: May 11th, 2015

Author: All4 Staff 

UPDATE (5/11/2015): Affected parties have agreed to and filed an April 24, 2015 Notice of Stipulation to Modify Consent Decree with the DC Circuit Court delaying the signature of the refinery air rules discussed below until September 30, 2015.  Prior consent decree modifications delayed the rule finalization from April 17, 2015 to June 16, 2015. The revised timeline has been agreed to as a result of the significant number of comments that U.S. EPA received and must respond to.  To catch up on the proposal, feel free to visit ALL4’s Oil and Gas Sector Initiative page where you can learn all about the proposed benzene fenceline monitoring requirements, amended flare operational requirements, DCU control requirements, and more related topics. 

UPDATE (8/11/2014): The public comment period regarding the EPA’s revisions to MACT and NSPS Refinery Air Rules has been extended by 60 days.

UPDATE (6/30/2014): U.S. EPA officially published revisions to the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) Refinery Air Rules (i.e., 40 CFR Part 60 Subparts J and Ja, and 40 CFR Part 63 Subparts CC and UUU, Refinery MACT 1 and Refinery MACT 2, respectively) today, June 30, 2014.  Today starts the clock for public comments, which are due August 29, 2014.  A copy of comments on the information collection provisions are to be submitted to OMB on or before July 30,2014.  U.S. EPA will hold public hearings, on July 16, 2014, in Wilmington, California and on August 5, 2014, in Galena Park, Texas.

For more information on the proposed rules, please refer to ALL4’s May 2014 and June 2014 4 The Record articles.  In addition, please refer to John Slade‘s recent blog post about Refinery MACT risk assessment.

(5/28/2014): U.S. EPA’s much anticipated revisions to the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) Refinery Air Rules (i.e., 40 CFR Part 60 Subparts J and Ja, and 40 CFR Part 63 Subparts CC and UUU, Refinery MACT 1 and Refinery MACT 2, respectively) were unveiled by U.S. EPA on May 15, 2014.  The proposal date was driven by a consent decree resulting from an environmental group lawsuit after U.S. EPA repeatedly missed earlier deadlines to revise Refinery MACT 1 and MACT 2.  The proposal encompasses the risk and technology review (RTR) of Refinery MACT 1 and MACT 2.  Additionally it provides technical corrections and clarifications for the 2008 NSPS.  Highlights of the proposed package of Refinery Air Rules include: 

  • Fenceline benzene monitoring.  U.S. EPA is proposing to establish an ambient concentration of benzene at the fenceline that would trigger required corrective action in the event of an exceedance.  The proposal identifies an annual average benzene concentration standard to be measured via 2 week integrated samples at the refinery fenceline perimeter.  Twelve to 24 monitors are required at each facility, dependent on facility size.
  • Additional control requirements for storage tanks.  Specifically the proposal identifies control requirements for smaller tanks in part to address residual risk.  The proposal revises the definition of Group 1 storage vessels to include storage vessels with capacities greater than or equal to 20,000 gallons but less than 40,000 gallons if the maximum true vapor pressure is 1.9 pounds per square inch absolute (psia) or greater and to include storage tanks greater than 40,000 gallons if the maximum true vapor pressure is 0.75 psia or greater.
  • Amended flare operational requirements.  U.S. EPA proposes the removal of many of the cross-references to the General Provisions.  New provisions require that flares operate with a pilot flame at all times and be continuously monitored using a thermocouple or any other equivalent device in Refinery MACT 1 and 2.  U.S. EPA is also proposing to add a new operational requirement to use automatic relight systems for all flare pilot flames.  For visible emissions, Refinery MACT 1 and 2 will include a limit and in addition, a requirement that a visible emissions test be conducted each day and whenever visible emissions are observed from the flare.  EPA has consolidated the requirement for maximum flare tip velocity into Refinery MACT 1 and 2 as a single equation, regardless of flare type (i.e., steam assisted, air-assisted or non-assisted).  U.S. EPA also proposes flare Operating and Monitoring Requirements and defines “flare vent gas” and “combustion zone gas.”
  • Delayed coking unit (DCU) control requirements.  U.S. EPA set a 2 pounds per square inch gauge (psig) pressure limit for both existing and new sources. However, U.S. EPA is soliciting solicits additional comments on the 2 psig MACT floor.  DCU work practice standards exist in the Refinery NSPS Ja; however the revisions to Refinery MACT 1 are more stringent.  As a result, U.S. EPA is soliciting comment on how to harmonize the DCU work practice standards in the rules.
  • Elimination of the exemptions of emission limits during startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM).  Not surprisingly, U.S. EPA is revising the SSM provisions in order to ensure that the subparts are consistent with the court decision in Sierra Club v. U.S. EPA.  Additionally, the proposal removes the malfunction exemption in Refinery MACT 1 and 2 and identifies that HAP emissions may not be discharged to the atmosphere from relief valves in organic HAP service.  Sources are also required to monitor relief valves using a system that is capable of identifying and recording the time and duration of each pressure release and of notifying operators that a pressure release has occurred. 

Upon “official” publication in the Federal Register, public comments will be accepted for 60 days.  Please note that U.S. EPA has asked for comments over 40 specific items in the proposal.  Two public meetings will also be held, in Houston and Los Angeles. U.S. EPA is due to finalize the rule in April 2015.


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