EPA Proposes New Maximum Achievable Control Technology Standards for Boilers and Incinerators
The EPA has published new rules in the Federal Register regarding new Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) for boilers and incinerators. The target of the new rules is to limit toxic emissions and mercury, which is known to be extremely harmful to human health. The Federal Register is available to the public, and the EPA will be accepting public comments on these rules through August 3, 2010.
Boilers burn fuels to produce heat or steam for electricity by burning natural gas, coal, oil, or wood. At industrial facilities like paper mills and refineries, boilers are used for industrial processes. Incinerators primarily burn solid waste as a means of disposal, and some incinerators are equipped with energy recovery technology.
The EPA decided to propose this regulatory action for boilers and incinerators together because smaller incinerator units may be considered boilers depending on the content of the solid waste. They have taken steps to determine if the material going into an incinerator is considered fuel or solid waste. This regulation would be added onto the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which defines non-hazardous secondary materials. It is the result of pressure applied by a Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) petition which led to 2007 court order for the EPA to review emission standards from boilers and incinerators.
The MACT standards would be applied to sources producing over ten tons of emissions per year or any one hazardous air pollutant (HAP), or for over 25 tons per year of combined HAPs. The standard is set based on average emissions by the best-performing twelve percent of existing sources.
Not all sources are subject to the same set of MACTs. For new and existing coal-fired boilers and process heaters, EPA has proposed new limits on mercury, particulate matter (PM) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions. Similarly, biomass and oil-fired sources would have stricter limits on PM and CO imposed. On the other hand, small sources or sources burning natural or refinery gas would be subject to less stringent standards such as periodic tune-ups instead of emission limitations.
All sources would have to conduct a mandatory one-time energy-saving assessment to determine prudent energy saving strategies. Companies would then determine the most economically sensible strategy based on their own unique situation. The energy saving assessment, while already done by a number of businesses, would become the norm for any facility with boilers or incinerators. In the future, this energy saving assessment may be applied to greenhouse gases as well.
The new standards would apply at all times for all sources, including periods of malfunction, start-up, and shut-down. The EPA would require all sources to come into compliance within three years of the final rule's publication in the Federal Register.
Incinerators would face stricter emissions limits for mercury, lead, cadmium, hydrogen chloride, PM, CO, dioxins/furans, NOx, and sulfur dioxide. They would also be required to perform stack tests and consistent monitoring along with annual inspections of emissions control equipment.
The states would have to submit a revised State Implementation Plan (SIP) within one year upon the rule's promulgation. Incinerators would then have three years to demonstrate compliance with the SIP. If a SIP is not submitted in a given state, the incinerator would have five years.
The EPA's proposed rules are stricter on emissions regulations because they would apply to boilers and incinerators at all times. A downside of the new rules may be the greater cost to operators of boilers and incinerators. The upside may be growth in the industrial sector which creates air pollution control devices. And of course, there are environmental benefits as well for the atmosphere and human health.
Link for more Info on EPA Proposed Rules
Link to Comment on EPA Proposed Rules