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Assuring Compliance With Air Emissions Limits

Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 1998

source applies for a significant permit revision or renewal of the operating permit.

Q. What if an exceedance or excursion occurs? In case of an exceedance or excursion the source must return the control device to its usual manner of operation "as expeditiously as practicable." Corrective action must be implemented to prevent the recurrence of the malfunction. %n21%n Under the rule, after reporting the exceedance or excursion, the permitting authority will determine whether the response and corrective action was acceptable.

Besides enforcement for a violation, if there is an exceedance or excursion, the permitting authority can require a quality improvement plan (QIP). %n22%n A QIP seeks out the cause of a problem and makes appropriate changes to ensure the process or equipment is working properly. The QIP must be implemented within 180 days, or the source must notify the permitting authority that it will take longer than 180 days. The final rule allows the permitting authority to include a threshold to trigger a QIP, specifically suggesting 5 percent, of an accumulation of exceedances or excursions during the control device's operating time during the previous reporting period. %n23%n The EPA made clear in its final rule that exceedances and excursions are evidence of a violation of the Act and repeated problems may lead to enforcement as to the QIP or required changes to the QIP. %n24%n (By contrast, the proposed rule would have treated a second required QIP during the term of the permit as a violation of the Act.)

Q. If no excursions, then a safe harbor? Although operation of the control devices within the indicator ranges does not act as a shield against a violation of the Act, EPA will presume an emission unit is in compliance and will not be a target for enforcement. Upon approval of the monitoring, the permitting authority can extend the permit shield to the source's obligation to comply with Part 64 monitoring requirements. %n25%n

Q. What if my part 70 operating permit already has monitoring requirements? Part 70 operating permits were required to have periodic monitoring requirements if the source did not already have sufficient monitoring requirements. For any emissions units covered, the Part 64 monitoring requirements will supplant and satisfy any Part 70 periodic monitoring requirements. EPA acknowledges that some sources may just have adopted Part 70 periodic monitoring that may be discarded to satisfy Part 64. %n26%n

The Wrench: Hung by Credible Evidence?

At first glance, industry might appear satisfied with the outcome of the CAM rule. The required monitoring should assure that a source with a properly operating control device is satisfying requirements. At the same time, the rule preserves use of special protocols, called "reference test methods," to measure actual emissions. Unlike the CWA model, these test results do not conclusively prove a violation has occurred because the tests do not measure actual emissions. If CAM data shows a control device is functioning properly, proving a violation of emissions limitations or standards will be very difficult.

Yet the CAM rule still presents several problems.

The most important impact of the CAM