I am the plant manager of a small, hard chrome plating job shop. We had our stacks tested several years ago and are in compliance with the EPA chrome MACT limit of 0.03mg/dscm through the use of fume suppressants only. In several months, we will need to replace one of our tanks due to its advanced age and poor condition. We plan to replace it with one that is exactly the same size and no other changes. I have heard rumors that this makes it a new source, requiring a new stack test and must meet the chrome MACT limit of 0.015 mg/dscm. Based upon the previous stack test, we would not be able to show compliance unless we install expensive controls. Do you know anything about this? S.H.
Based upon our reading of the chrome plating MACT regulations under 40 CFR 63, Subpart N, 63.342 (c), the lower limit of 0.015 mg/dscm applies to “new” and “reconstructed” sources. Under 40 CFR Part 63.2, the definition of a “reconstructed source” is “the replacement of components of an affected or a previously unaffected stationary source to such an extent that:
- The fixed capital cost of the new components exceeds 50% of the fixed capital cost that would be required to construct a comparable new source; and
- It is technologically and economically feasible for the reconstructed source to meet the relevant standard(s) established by the Administrator (or a State) pursuant to section 112 of the Act. Upon reconstruction, an affected source, or a stationary source that becomes an affected source, is subject to relevant standards for new sources, including compliance dates, irrespective of any change in emissions of hazardous air pollutants from that source.”
Based upon our experience, the cost to replace a chrome plating tank would not be greater than 50% of a comparable source, including rectifier(s), buss bars, cooling and heating systems, exhaust system, plating solution, etc. Therefore, the replacement tank would not be a “reconstructed source.”
However, we know of a case where an EPA regional office has declared an identical replacement tank as a “new” source and has proposed significant fines. Their rationale, which we believe is faulty, is that the tank itself, not the entire chrome plating system, is the “source,” and by replacing the tank, a facility is installing a “new source.” Furthermore, this regional office holds that if you have the money to replace a tank, you can afford to upgrade your pollution controls and meet the lower limit.
We strongly recommend that before you proceed that you or your environmental consultant contact the air pollution control agency that has chrome MACT “control authority” for your area and obtain their written opinion on this matter. This could be either the state air pollution agency or an EPA regional office. If they interpret the replacement tank as a “new” source, you will also have to get it permitted as a “new” source, a process that can take several months. Furthermore, we urge that you contact your trade association (AESF, NAMF or MFSA) and urge that they work with EPA to issue a policy statement that an entire chrome plating system is a “source” rather than just the tank itself. This issue has significant cost implications upon small, existing sources.