EPA’s Enforcement Train: Now Arriving at MON Station

When establishing national enforcement initiatives for 2014-2016, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) elected to retain the initiatives from the previous period, 2011-2013. For the chemical industry, this represents a continued focus on cutting hazardous air pollutants (HAP) emission, with the key problem area identified by EPA as leak detection and repair, flares, and excess emissions. While this is by no means a new national enforcement initiative, EPA is beginning to expand their reach across a broader range of chemical facilities than ever before. The seeds of EPA current initiative were sown first with the petroleum refining industry, starting with LDAR and continuing with flare related enforcement. Around 2005, EPA leveraged its experience with petroleum refining to concentrate enforcement on the chemical industry, initially focusing on facilities subject to the Hazardous Organic NESHAP (HON) and Pharmaceutical MACT standards. As EPA has completed (or in the process of completing) its first run of inspections and enforcements for HON and pharmaceutical facilities, focus is not being shifted to chemical facilities subject to the Miscellaneous Organic NESHAP (MON). Therefore, it is important for MON facilities to be prepared for upcoming inspections from OECA, as EPA is kicking-off such investigations within EPA Region 5 and other regions. The following is a summary of key focus areas based on EPA’s past enforcement of the petroleum refining, HON, and pharmaceutical industries.

Enhanced LDAR

With over a decade’s worth of experience in LDAR related enforcement in the chemical industry, EPA is able to focus on several common problem areas during their initial inspection. These areas include

  • Proper Method 21 monitoring of the leak interface
  • Calibration of field instruments
  • Identification of open ended lines/valves
  • Implementation of delay of repair provisions
  • Applicability of appropriate LDAR regulations
  • Conducting proper monitoring as prescribed in regulations
  • New source review for added/replaced components

The above items have been well documented in past enforcement action for the refining and chemical industries, so EPA expects facilities to have already addressed these concerns. Typically, LDAR noncompliance leads to implementation of enhanced LDAR requirements. Enhanced LDAR requirements for refineries included lower leak definitions, initial attempts at repair below the leak threshold, management of change (MOC) systems to account for new components, and periodic third party audits that include comparative monitoring. In more recent chemical industry enhanced LDAR programs, EPA stepped up the requirements. The new wave of enhanced LDAR also includes more frequent third party audits, Method 21 monitoring for open ended lines, and use of low leak technology. For a comprehensive summary of enhanced LDAR requirements for the chemical industry, please see past articles originally published in Trinity Consultants’ Environmental Quarterly publications in Winter 2009 and Spring 2010.

MON-Specific Enforcement

While LDAR enforcement was born within the refining industry, EPA has identified more industry specific focus areas for MON facilities from efforts within the HON and Pharmaceutical industries. These focus area include, but are not limited to: Operating Scenarios - Given the flexibility and wide range of operations inherent to MON facilities, the MON requires details descriptions of each process unit’s operating scenario(s) with associated emission profiles to establish control and other compliance requirements. If all operating scenarios are not sufficiently addressed, a facility could underestimate emissions, inadvertently missing control requirements or misidentifying worst-case operating conditions for a performance test.

Process versus Control Condensers – Process condensers that recovery chemicals for fuel value, use, reuse, or sale for fuel value, use, or reuse can be classified as recovery devices and be subject to limited compliance requirements. However, a condenser not used in this manner, such as those capturing material sent out as hazardous waste, is considered a control devices, such that all uncontrolled emission evaluations must be made at the condenser inlet and the condenser may be subject to monitoring and performance testing requirements.

Wastewater– Common areas of concern for wastewater include proper identification of each point of determination (POD), using process knowledge to establish stream concentration and flow versus actual testing data, classification of wastewater as maintenance versus process, and documenting work practices for all maintenance wastewater streams within the SSMP.

Trinity and its Chemical Sector Services (CSS) group have extensive experience in assisting chemical clients identify and address the LDAR and MON compliance issues presented above. We have supported numerous facilities that have asked to better understand their current state of compliance and provided them with levels of assurance to make tough compliance decisions. As sometimes it does occur as a result of these analyses, Trinity has helped facilities self-report any discoveries and carried that assistance from support for negotiating allegations presented in Findings of Violations (FOVs) through the issuance of a consent decree. For those facilities already within the EPA enforcement timeline, we have also assisted facilities from an initial starting point of a pre-inspection gap analysis, assistance during the EPA inspection, or responding to EPA’s initial FOV. Whether your company is looking for an initial gap assessment, a full compliance audit, or an FOV response, Trinity and our CSS group has the regulatory understanding and experience in enforcement assistance to meet you current and future needs. For more information on the above, please contact your local Trinity office, or Ms. Inaas Darrat, P.E., at (713) 552-1371 ext. 209. You may also contact one of our regional representatives: Mr. David Dempsey at (317) 451-8100 for the Midwest/West or Mr. Chris Aberg at (919) 462-9693 for the East/South.