Q. Recently, one of our chemical suppliers asked me how we are going to comply with the new USEPA air pollution regulations that impact our plant. I’ve looked through our files and have not found anything about it. Can you provide me with some guidance so that I may determine if this standard is applicable, and if so, what we need to be doing? L.J.B.
A. The USEPA air pollution regulation that your supplier is referring to is the Plating and Polishing National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) established pursuant to section 112 of the Clean Air Act as amended back in 1990. These standards are contained in USEPA regulations 40 CFR 63.11504-11513. These standards regulate specific categories of stationary sources that emit (or have the potential to emit) one or more hazardous air pollutants listed in the regulations.
Specifically, the Plating and Polishing regulations for area sources were finalized in the Federal Register on July 1, 2008. The regulations define a “plating and polishing facility” as one or more of the following processes:
Electroplating other than chromium electroplating (i.e., non-chromium electroplating), since chromium electroplating already has its own standard; electroless or non-electrolytic plating; other non-electrolytic metal coating processes, such as chromate conversion coating, nickel acetate sealing, dichromate sealing, and manganese phosphate coating, and thermal spraying (except for repair); dry mechanical polishing of finished metals and formed products after plating (except to restore original finish); electroforming; and
If you do not have one of these processes, the standards do not apply.
If your facility does engage in at least one of the six activities, there must be an emission of one or more of the regulated hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) list in the regulation; these HAPs include cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel.
If you do not use any of these regulated metals in the covered processes, the standards do not apply.
There are two further exemptions from the rule: Any plating or polishing process that does not use any material containing cadmium, chromium, lead, or nickel in amounts of 0.1% or more by weight; or that contains manganese in amounts of 1.0% or more by weight.
If the standard is applicable, existing sources are defined as those in place on or before March 14, 2008. Existing sources were required to submit an Initial Notification by Oct. 29, 2008 and achieve compliance by July 1, 2010. Also, a Compliance Status Notification is required to be submitted by July 1, 2010 with your USEPA regional office; we also strongly recommend that you send a copy of the notifications to your local air pollution control agency or State EPA. The Compliance Status Notification certifies that you are in compliance.
For new sources, which are defined as those installed on or after March 14, 2008, compliance dates are:
- If the initial startup date is on or before July 1, 2008, you must achieve compliance no later than July 1, 2008.
- If the initial startup date is after July 1, 2008, you must achieve compliance upon initial startup.
For the notifications of new sources, the Initial Notification must be submitted no later than 120 days after you begin installing the source, and the Compliance Status Notification must be submitted no later than the source’s startup date.
While the regulations describe what needs to be included in each notification, the EPA did not create a standard form. However, if you follow the link to the National Metal Finishing Resource Center below, you will find a examples of the notifications under “compliance assistance tools.” Also, some states have created their own reporting forms. You can check with your local or state air pollution control agency to determine proper forms and to whom to submit notifications.
Once you determine what, if any, processes within your plant are applicable, you then need to evaluate the appropriate “Standards & Management Practices (40 CFR 63.11507)” and the “Compliance Requirements (40 CFR 63.11508)” as they apply to a specific processes. The management and compliance requirements in many cases are not be very restrictive (i.e., utilizing tank covers, if already owned and available at the facility, whenever practical). However, if you are performing metal spray or polishing activities, there are requirements for dust control. Due to the many variables that determine your air pollution requirements, it’s not possible to discuss them here. The following site will take you to the Federal Register for the final rule: nmfrc.org/PlatingandPolishingAreaSourceFinalRule.pdf
On an ongoing basis, there will be recordkeeping. On an annual basis, you will be required to complete and sign an Ongoing Compliance Status Notification Report by Jan. 31 for the previous calendar year; in this report you will certify compliance and you must keep this report on file (do not submit) unless there has been a deviation from compliance or submittal is requested by USEPA, state EPA, or your local air pollution control agency.
The National Metal Finishing Resource Center (NMFRC) has a very good fact sheet on this issue and can be accessed at nmfrc.org/neshapfactsheet.cfm
I hope that this article has provided you with a sense of direction. While the regulation seems to be very complex, our experience has been that for the vast majority of our metal finishing clients compliance can be met with continuing existing practices or very minor changes to process and procedures.