The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is required to conduct Residual Risk and Technology Reviews (RTRs) of its own regulations governing hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) under the Clean Air Act (CAA) a minimum of every eight (8) years. The US EPA has missed the deadline for several of these reviews and is now under court order to complete RTRs for thirty-three (33) source categories with upcoming due dates. RTRs for seven (7) of those source categories were completed, with RTRs for twenty-six (26) source categories remaining.

Remaining source categories for regulations that govern the chemical manufacturing industry that must still be reviewed, include the following:

  • Hydrochloric Acid Production (3/2020)
  • Ethylene Production (3/2020)
  • Organics Liquid Distribution (3/2020)
  • Miscellaneous Organic NESHAP (MON) (3/2020)
  • Miscellaneous Coating Manufacturing (6/2020)
  • Generic MACT II - Cyanide Chemicals Manufacturing (10/2021)
  • Generic MACT II - Spandex Production (10/2021)
  • Generic MACT II - Carbon Black Production (10/2021)

Of all impacted source categories identified above, RTR amendments to the Miscellaneous Organic NESHAP (40 CFR 63, Subpart FFFF, the MON), by far, will affect the largest number of sources.  The MON has also garnered recent enhanced US EPA RTR focus as the result of concerns raised by the 2014 North American Air Toxic (NATA) Update for ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide producers and consumers are often regulated MON affected sources and the US EPA has been clear it will place special emphasis on ensuring ethylene oxide risk is properly addressed and reflected in revisions to this regulation. As such, MON regulated sources should pay close attention to US EPA's MON RTR actions as this source category represents such a wide array of facilities and the potential exists for the proposed amendments to not be representative of the source category as a whole.

Additionally, US EPA has requested an extension to the information collection request (ICR) for the MON that is set to expire May 31, 2019. Proposed amendments for all remaining RTR source categories with March and June 2020 compliance dates will be released over the next few months to enable promulgation of final amendments before the deadlines. Likewise, proposed amendments for source categories with October 2021 deadlines are expected in 2020. US EPA's RTR homepage provides a RTR source category review schedule as well as direct links to recent RTR actions, proposed rule changes, review files, and source category specific RTR contacts.

Preparing for Potential Regulatory Impact

If the US EPA continues as expected, the remaining RTRs will require significant changes to chemical plant operations and compliance programs. In preparation for the potential regulatory impact, impacted chemical sources should be asking the following questions internally:

  • Can the facility comply with the applicable emissions control and treatment standards once the startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM) exemptions are removed? If not, what sources are problematic and what type of physical or operational changes will be required to come into compliance - and what is the timeframe and capital required for such changes?
  • Are HAP containing pressure relief devices (PRD's) currently venting to atmosphere? Does instrumentation currently exist to know if these devices release? Does control equipment exist on-site with the capacity to handle these streams?
  • Do any HAP containing vents exist that are currently exempted from control under the NESHAP standard? What would the impact be if these vents were suddenly subject to control standards?
  • Do flares currently have online monitoring, or will the facility have to install online monitoring? What is the timeframe and capital required for such changes?

Answers to these questions can be used to guide your review of the proposed amendments for the 2020 and 2021 RTR source categories as they are released, as well as to plan your forecasted capital expenditure budgets for 2020-2022. Additionally, Trinity recommends impacted chemical source categories use US EPA's Refinery MACT and HCl MACT RTR actions as a guide to prepare for the remaining RTRs to be released over the next few months.

Trinity's Chemical Sector Services (CSS) group is actively involved with helping chemical industry clients navigate the RTR process. If you need any assistance related to assessing potential impacts to your MON program and/or any of the impacted chemical source categories, please contact CSS at (713) 552-1371 Ext. 209.