Over the 2012 winter holidays, EPA again published a significant number of pages of new regulatory requirements that the US cement industry must add on to existing programmes. The good news is that the compliance dates were extended. For most facilities, the newest regulatory updates must now be implemented by 2015, with only the new clinker storage work practices part of the rules being implemented earlier. The interesting twist in the combination of new rules is that facilities will now be further categorised by the type of fuel used. For plants using alternative fuels, this will enhance the “opportunity” for further developing programmes based on knowledge of alternative fuels, air emissions requirements, alternative fuel acceptance procedures, testing, documenting and more!
A taste of the latest final regulatory developments
The re-finalised PC NESHAP rules were released in the Federal Register on 12 February 2013, along with the corresponding NSPS Subpart F (Standards of Performance for Portland Cement Plants) update. There have been some general improvements in the requirements due to lots of hard work between industry and EPA, and now in the relatively near future, plants will be operating under the updated compliance regime. In addition to some needing to add/upgrade air emissions controls, facilities will need to address the new structure of CEMS and testing requirements and update associated operating plans, and recordkeeping and reporting systems by 9 September 2015. For clinker piles that are not in a totally enclosed facility, new work place practices need to be in place, with details added into O&M plans by 12 February 2014.
Right alongside the new NESHAP’s requirements has been the interesting developments with the CISWI and RCRA solid waste definition rules, introducing a new day in the world of facilities using alternative fuels with respect to the environmental compliance framework. The addition of these rules creates a completely new structure surrounding the use of non-hazardous alternative fuel, and the result does not exactly mean business as usual for these important programmes. In fact, EPA even published that the results of the new rules could be to take currently beneficially used fuels back to landfills for disposal.
The three rules published on 7 February 2013 are the two CISWI rules under Section 129 of the Clean Air Act (40 CFR 60 Subpart CCCC new source rules and Subpart DDDD existing source guidelines), and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) 40 CFR 241 companion rule that defines whether an alternative fuel is a solid waste or is not a waste when combusted.
Other US environmental regulatory topics to watch
While one cannot accurately predict future election outcomes or environmentalist or environmental agency actions, the historical trends tell us that environmental regulatory actions will continue to introduce operating challenges and opportunities. Future enhanced cement plant regulatory responsibilities, dovetailed with company operations and sustainability plans, promise to keep all of our jobs interesting and evolving! The increased focus on fine particulate, NOx, SO2 and CO2, along with pollutant reductions in general, continues to be at the forefront for the (public) quest for improved health and environmental benefits.
The US industry was required to prepare inventories and begin emissions reporting over the last couple of years as part of the initiative to reduce greenhouse gases, but now CO2 must also be considered in new air quality permitting and there promises to be more to come. As larger emitters of CO2, cement facilities can expect continued scrutiny from the public, possibly resulting in calls for CO2 reductions. Company initiatives are also focusing on CO2 emission reduction in a proactive manner, and to minimise exposure to this issue.
For years, the industry has faced the question of whether EPA regulation would someday drive specific CKD management practices. This has remained a back-burner issue as EPA is busy dealing with similar issues on coal power plant ash. There is a much greater volume of coal ash generated across the nation, and there is extensive involvement in the regulatory development process. Thus, it is expected that EPA will take quite a bit more time wrapping up that rule before they would even consider whether to prioritise CKD regulations. As is the case with power plant ash management, the question of whether future regulations will render the material subject to solid waste or hazardous waste regulation is still outstanding. With all of EPA’s other priorities, the jury is still out on whether CKD management will become more regulated, necessitating a higher level of future industry attention.
Along with the MACT and NSPS standards, EPA continues to revisit the NAAQS as required periodically by statute, and as a result continues to lower the standards. With the NAAQS levels changing, states are required to develop SIP plans to bring ambient air quality into compliance. The SIPs generally focus on major sources of the pollutant, thus cement plants will remain on the short-list of sources evaluated for additional controls to reduce SO2, NOx and particulate matter emissions into the future.
Where does industry go from here?
One thing is certain: industry will need to continue to be vigilant in promoting positive relations and communications with EPA and state agencies, and the surrounding communities. Proactive communications and education can help our industry to keep in front of stakeholders, promote an understanding of our industry, our benefits and our challenges. In turn, these actions will continue to help to minimise the possibility of future programmes creating problematic and entangled regulatory solutions and will keep the US moving forward as a manufacturing and environmental leader.
Written by Carrie Yonley P.E., Schreiber, Yonley & Associates, USA. This article is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the IEEE 2013 supplement of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/the-americas/25032013/usa_cement_regulatory_environment_186/