EPA: More Changes Coming for Boilers and Incinerators?

Dec. 5, 2011
The EPA has proposed new changes to the Clean Air Act standards for boilers and incinerators.  The standards have public health protection at the focal point, with the goal of significantly reducing toxic air pollutants

The EPA has proposed new changes to the Clean Air Act standards for boilers and incinerators.  The standards have public health protection at the focal point, with the goal of significantly reducing toxic air pollutants.  The newly proposed standards reduce the cost of implementation by approximately 50% in compared to the 2010 proposal.

Some of the key highlights and changes of the proposal are as follows:

Boilers at large sources of air toxic emissions – This targets less than 1% of all boilers in the United States, generally refineries, chemical plants, and industrial facilities.  EPA is proposing to create additional subcategories and revise emissions limits. EPA is also proposing to provide more flexible compliance options for meeting the particle pollution and carbon monoxide limits, replace numeric emissions limits with work practice standards for certain pollutants, allow more flexibility for units burning clean gases to qualify for work practice standards and reduce some monitoring requirements.

EPA estimates that the cost of implementing these standards remains about $1.5 billion less than the April 2010 proposed standards. Health benefits to children and the public associated with reduced exposure to fine particles and ozone from these large source boilers have increased by almost 25 percent and are estimated to be $27 billion to $67 billion in 2015.

Boilers at small sources of air toxic emissions – This proposal targets around 187,000 boilers located at commercial buildings and facilities, universities, hospitals, and hotels.  Due to how little these boilers emit 98% of area source boilers would simply be required to perform maintenance and routine tune-ups to comply with these standards. Only 2% of area source boilers may need to take additional steps to comply with the rule. To increase flexibility for most of these sources, EPA is proposing to require initial compliance tune-ups after two years instead after the first year.

Solid waste incinerators and other revisions - There are 95 solid waste incinerators that burn waste at a commercial or an industrial facility, including cement manufacturing facilities. EPA is proposing to adjust emissions limits for waste-burning cement kilns and for energy recovery units.

EPA is also proposing revisions to its final rule which identified the types of non-hazardous secondary materials that can be burned in boilers or solid waste incinerators. Following the release of that final rule, stakeholders expressed concerns regarding the regulatory criteria for a non-hazardous secondary material to be considered a legitimate, non-waste fuel, and how to demonstrate compliance with those criteria.

To address these concerns, EPA’s proposed revisions provide clarity on what types of secondary materials are considered non-waste fuels, and greater flexibility. The proposed revisions also classify a number of secondary materials as non-wastes when used as a fuel and allow for a boiler or solid waste operator to request that EPA identify specific materials as a non-waste fuel.

Clean Air Act Standards for Boilers and Incinerators

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The New Standard for High Efficiency Boilers

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