What Does It Mean for You?

On February 21, the Environmental Protection Agency issued pollution standards that apply to new and existing industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers and process heaters. Two rules were released as national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP). The first requires all “major sources” to meet hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions standards reflecting the application of the maximum achievable control technology (MACT). In the second rule, EPA released a national emission standard for two “area source” categories: industrial boilers and institutional and commercial boilers.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA classifies sources by the amount of toxic pollution they emit.
  • A “major source” facility emits 10 or more tons per year of any single air toxic, or 25 or more tons per year of any combination of air toxics. In addition, the EPA defined 15 subcategories of “major source” boilers and process heaters based on their designs. The final MACT rule just released includes specific requirements for each of these 15 subcategories.

  • An “area source” emits less than 10 tons per year of any single air toxic, or less than 25 tons per year of any combination of air toxics.
While all of the intricacies of the rules are too lengthy to cover here, a few key points are worth noting.

For facilities identified as “major sources,” the EPA established critical limits. For certain types, such as new and existing natural gas- and refinery gas-fired units, the final rule establishes a work practice standard instead of numeric emission limits. The rule also established a work practice standard for new and existing units with a heat input capacity of less than 10 million BTU/hr, or for new and existing limited-use units, which EPA defines as units that operate less than 876 hours per year.

Although the boilers covered by the new standards will not be required to comply until after February 2014, the EPA estimates as many as 200,000 boilers are affected. For more information on these standards, visit http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion.html.

Linda Becker, Associate Publisher and Editor, BeckerL@bnpmedia.com