On February 8, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register (Vol. 84, No. 27) soliciting public comments and recommendations on the National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs) for the fiscal years 2020-2023. NCIs, previously called National Enforcement Initiatives, are set every few years which highlight areas where EPA will focus its enforcement and compliance resources. Under the current FY 2017-2019 cycle, there are seven active initiatives:
- Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)
- Reducing Toxic Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities
- Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities
- Keeping Industrial Pollutants Out of the Nation's Waters
- Ensuring Energy Extraction Activities Comply with Environmental Laws
- Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation's Waters
- Reducing Air Pollution from the Largest Sources
In the proposed initiatives for FY 2020-2023 cycle, the EPA intends to extend three current initiatives, modify two current initiatives, return two initiatives to the core program, and add two new NCIs. Provided below is an overview of the initiatives.
Extension of Initiatives
The EPA intends to extend the following three initiatives:
Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)
This initiative has been part of the NCIs since 2004 and intends to reduce HAPs, or air toxics from leaks, flares, and excess emissions from refineries, chemicals plants and other industries.
Several EPA regional offices started to utilize forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras to broadly and quickly identify potential leaks as part of the inspections. Trinity expects that the EPA regional offices will continue this practice with the extension of the initiative to cut HAPs.
Prior to an EPA inspection, companies should consider utilizing an FLIR camera to identify potential leaks across the facility and address areas of concerns, if possible. Trinity is capable of assisting facilities both with pre-inspection scans, and responding to FLIR camera video provided by EPA following an inspection.
Reducing Toxic Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities
The EPA began this initiative in 2017 to address the widespread air emissions violations associated with the improper management of hazardous waste. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires effective monitoring to identify and repair leaks of certain hazardous waste in storage tanks, containers, pipes, valves, and other equipment at treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDF), or facilities which are large quantity generators (LQGs).
With the extension of this initiative, EPA will continue RCRA leak detection and repair (LDAR) inspections at TSDF and LQG facilities. Trinity has extensive experience with supporting facilities with RCRA LDAR inspections. Trinity can assist facilities to build a more robust LDAR program and provide ongoing LDAR monitoring support.
Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities
The EPA plans to continue this initiative to reduce risks of accidental releases at industrial and chemical facilities. Facilities which make, use, and store extremely hazardous substances above established threshold quantities are regulated under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and through the Chemical Accident Prevention regulations, also known as the Risk Management Program (RMP). A broader statutory obligation under CAA Section 112(r)(1), the General Duty Clause (GDC), applies to all stationary sources with regulated substances or other extremely hazardous stances, regardless of the quantity of chemical involved.
RMP shares similar elements with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Process Safety Management (PSM) program. However, RMP also has unique program requirements, such as Offsite Consequence Analysis, Risk Management Plan, 5-year Accident etc. As described previously, GDC under CAA Section 112(r)(1) has a broader applicability with no limit to the type or the amounts of chemicals stored onsite, and thus GDC requirements may be overlooked by facilities. Trinity is experienced with assisting facilities with RMP and GDC program implementations and enforcement support.
Modification of Initiatives
The EPA intends to modify the following two initiatives:
Keeping Industrial Pollutants Out of the Nation's Waters
This current initiative will be transitioned from ''Keeping Industrial Pollutants Out of the Nation's Waters'' NCI to ''National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Significant Non-Compliance (SNC) Reduction''. The modified initiative intends to reduce the rate of significant noncompliance in the Clean Water Act (CWA) NPDES program by 50% by the end of RY 2022.
Ensuring Energy Extraction Activities Comply with Environmental Laws
This current initiative will be transitioned to focus on significant sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that have a substantial impact on air quality, without regard to sector. The EPA is removing the sole focus on the natural gas extraction sector to a broader target on various industries to address significant public health and environmental problems. The EPA is also evaluating the idea of merging this initiative with "Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants" NCI.
Return of Initiatives to the Core ProgramThe EPA expects to return the following two current initiatives to the standard "core" enforcement program having largely achieved EPA's goals for these NCIs:
Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation's Waters
Reducing Air Pollution from the Largest Sources
New NCIsThe EPA proposed the following two new initiatives:
Increase Compliance with Drinking Water Standards
Under this proposed initiative, the EPA intends to work jointly with states to increase compliance with primary drinking water standards and improve public health protection at community water systems most at risk. Reduce Children's Exposure to Lead
Under this proposed initiative, the EPA intends to support various agency efforts to tackle lead contamination in all environmental media and use consumer education to increase compliance.
The proposed NCI for FY 2020-2023 is open for comments for 30 days after its Federal Register publication date. Comments can be submitted online until March 11, 2019.
If you are interested in learning more about the proposed NCI or have questions on how the proposed NCI may affect your facility, please contact the Trinity office closest to you at (800) 229-6655.