Author: Amy Ritts

Sixth-Generation Ohio Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Issued Final

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Ohio EPA’s new Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Industrial Stormwater Discharges (Ohio EPA (OEPA) General Permit Number OHR000006) was issued final on May 8, 2017. The effective date of the permit is June 1, 2017. OEPA’s fifth-generation MSGP (OHR000005) expired on December 31, 2016, and its replacement has incorporated changes that clarify allowances and exceptions and ensure that Ohio’s MSGP is consistent with its U.S. EPA counterpart. This post describes some important dates for associated submittals and summarizes new provisions of the permit.

Companies with facilities currently covered by OHR000005 should expect to receive a letter from OEPA in the next few weeks. No action is required of current permit holders until this letter is received.

Important dates to keep in mind:

  • Effective permit date: June 1, 2017
  • Permit expiration date: May 31, 2022
  • Notice of Intent (NOI) submittal deadline date for existing permit holders: within 90 days of the OEPA’s written instructions (letter) to re-notify. Per Jason Fyffe, Supervisor, OEPA Central Office Stormwater Permitting, renewal letters will be mailed late the week of May 22, at the earliest.
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) update timeframe for existing permit holders: within 180 days of the effective date of the permit (i.e., November 28, 2017)
  • Facilities not covered under a prior NPDES permit (new dischargers) must prepare a SWPPP prior to submitting an NOI. NOIs for new dischargers are to be submitted at least 180 days prior to discharge.

It is important to note that as of February 1, 2017, OEPA has instituted an all-electronic NOI filing policy, and facilities must use eBusiness to prepare and submit the form. If you prefer, the NPDES application utility (Surface Water Tracking, Reporting, and Electronic Application Management System or STREAMS) allows consultants to prepare the NOIs on behalf of their clients and delegate the forms to the appropriate individual for electronic signature and final submittal. CEC can assist you with this matter. Online payment is also available.

Notable changes to the current MSGP compared to OHR000005 include the following:

  • Clarifying language was added that defines conditions when pavement wash waters and routine external building washdown are an allowable non-stormwater discharge authorized by the permit. MSGP Part 1.1.3.
  • A list of the stormwater discharges subject to effluent limitation guidelines under 40 CFR, Subchapter N that are not eligible for coverage under the general permit and would require authorization to discharge under an individual NPDES permit is now included in MSGP Part 1.1.4.4.
  • A reduction in required frequency for routine facility inspections and quarterly visual assessments is now allowed for facilities recognized under the Gold and Platinum levels by OEPA’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Program. MSGP Parts 4.1.3 and 4.2.3.
  • The requirement for a comprehensive annual site inspection has been eliminated in order to match the U.S. MSGP and to “eliminate redundancies and reduce burden” on facilities. The requirement for routine facility inspection remains, and required procedures are listed in MSGP Part 4.1.1 (no change from OHR000005).
  • Language has been added to clarify that documents incorporated into the SWPPP by reference may be maintained on site electronically (i.e., satisfies “available on site” requirement). MSGP Part 5.1.5.1.
  • Permittees are now required to make their SWPPP available to the public when requested, excluding any confidential or restricted business information. MSGP Part 5.3.
  • Language has been added to clarify that, for monitoring purposes, an outfall can include a discrete conveyance (i.e., pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, or conduit) or a location where sheet flow leaves the facility property. MSGP Part 6.1.1.
  • Language has been added to clarify that permittees obtaining coverage in years 4 and 5 of the general permit must complete benchmark monitoring requirements to the extent of remaining monitoring periods available before the general permit expires. (Permittees obtaining coverage before this time are to complete the benchmark monitoring requirements within the first three years of permit coverage. This has not changed from OHR000005.) MSGP Part 6.2.1.2.
  • Provisions have been added for permittees who are exceeding a benchmark due to neighboring facility run-on to account for this situation. MSGP Part 6.2.1.2.
  • Provisions have been added for a facility to default to a different benchmark value if a parameter’s water quality standard is less restrictive than the permit benchmark value. MSGP Part 6.2.1.2.
  • Provisions have been added for permittees to consider pollutant concentrations (contributions) from the facility structures (roofs, walls, fencing, etc.) when determining whether it is available, practical, and achievable to implement additional control measures when a benchmark has been exceeded. MSGP Part 6.2.1.2.
  • The annual report requirements have been revised to be consistent with the federal MSGP. (The frequency and recordkeeping requirements have remained the same.) MSGP Part 7.2 and Appendix I.
  • Language has been added to clarify that the discharge of leachate (defined in OAC 3745-27-01(L)(1)) is not authorized under the MSGP. MSGP Part 8.C.2.1.
  • Composting fertilizer mixing facilities (SIC 2875) have been removed from Subsector C1 and located in a newly created Subsector C6, which provides more appropriate benchmark monitoring parameters for this industry. Table 8.C-1 and Appendix D to Sector C have been revised to specify that SIC 2875 (non-composting fertilizer mixing facilities) will be subject to Subsector C1 and SIC 2875 (composting fertilizer mixing facilities) will be subject to Subsector C6.
  • Language was added to Sector N (Scrap Recycling Facilities) to clarify that references to secondary containment under this part are referencing stationary outdoor equipment and not mobile equipment. MSGP Part 8.N.3.1.7.
  • Marinas have been added to Sector Q (Water Transportation) of the MSGP. The current OEPA Marina stormwater general permit (OHRM00002) expires on January 21, 2018, and will not be renewed. Marinas with coverage under OHRM00002 will remain covered under that general permit until it expires, and at that time, will be instructed to renew their coverage under OHR000006. NOTE: the current Marina Stormwater general permit authorizes the discharge of boat wash water if no detergents or other chemical cleaning agents are used. OHR000006 does not authorize boat wash water. Such discharges would require proper collection and disposal (i.e., sanitary sewer) or be permitted by a separate NPDES permit. MSGP Part 8, Subpart Q – Sector Q
  • Appendix B, “Standard Permit Conditions,” has been updated to reflect the “Standard Permit Conditions” language found within OEPA general permits.

For additional information regarding OHR000006, including fact sheets and a copy of the permit, visit OEPA’s Industrial Stormwater General Permit website.

If you have any questions on how the requirements of OHR000006 may affect your facility, or if you would like assistance with NOI submittal and/or updating the SWPPP for your facility, contact Amy Ritts (aritts@cecinc.com) or Andy McCorkle (amccorkle@cecinc.com).

2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone

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In accordance with a federal court order, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) signed a final rule on October 1, 2015, revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground level ozone, lowering the primary and secondary standards to 70 ppb, a decrease of 5 ppb from the 2008 ozone NAAQS. The USEPA believes that this standard should be attainable for most areas based on the implementation of other large regulations recently promulgated, e.g., Tier 3 vehicle standards, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and the Clean Power Plan. The rule was published in the Federal Register on October 26, 2015, and becomes effective on December 28, 2015.

Based on clinical studies and analyses of the effect of ozone exposure, the USEPA concluded a primary ozone NAAQS of 70 ppb is sufficient to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety. Likewise, the USEPA concluded that a secondary ozone NAAQS of 70 ppb is sufficient to protect public welfare, e.g., protection of the forests in Class I areas. The averaging time and form of the standards will remain the same. Compliance is demonstrated when the fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hour ozone concentration per year, averaged over three years, is less than or equal to 70 ppb. The USEPA deemed the 70 ppb standards to be “requisite to protect public health and welfare,” meaning that the level is neither more nor less stringent than necessary.

The implementation timeline for the 2015 ozone NAAQS is as follows:

  • October 2016 – States recommend non-attainment designations to USEPA, based on monitoring data from the previous three-year period (2013-2015).
  • October 2017 – USEPA makes final non-attainment designations based on monitoring data from 2014-2016.
  • 2020-2021 – State Implementation Plans (SIPs) due (date dependent on severity of non-attainment designation).
  • 2020-2037 – States must comply with the standard (date dependent on severity of non-attainment designation).

As presented above, states are required to submit recommended non-attainment designations to USEPA by October 2016, based on monitoring data from the previous three-year period. USEPA plans to issue guidance documents in early 2016 to facilitate the designation process.

Several states in the western U.S. have expressed concern regarding the impact of background ozone concentration on ambient air quality and counties’ abilities to demonstrate compliance with the more stringent ozone standards. The USEPA believes that background ozone will not prevent areas from attaining the 70 ppb ozone standards; however, to address this concern, USEPA plans to update the Exceptional Events Rule, which allows states to exclude “uncontrollable pollution,” such as increased ozone levels due to wildfires. Additionally, the USEPA plans to issue a white paper on background ozone and hold a stakeholder workshop. The USEPA will also work with states to address interstate transport of ozone and ozone precursors, especially in areas affected by high background concentrations of ozone due to long-range transport of ozone from other countries and wildfires.

The final regulation also provides a transition mechanism for PSD permitting projects currently underway via a grandfathering provision. Projects subject to this provision must demonstrate compliance with the 75 ppb ozone NAAQS standards from 2008 but will not be required to demonstrate compliance with the 2015 standards. This will allow these projects to proceed without the significant delay associated with preparation of a new compliance demonstration. In order to qualify for the provision, the facility must have achieved one of the following milestones:

  • The permitting agency formally determined the application to be complete as of October 1, 2015; or
  • The public notice for a draft permit or preliminary determination will have been published prior to December 28, 2015, the date the revised ozone standards become effective.

For 33 states and regions, the USEPA has also increased the length of the ozone monitoring season to address findings that ozone levels can be elevated earlier in the spring and later in the fall than the current monitoring time frame. This extension ranges from the addition of one month for 22 states and the District of Columbia to an additional seven months for Utah. The revised standard also requires that ozone monitors located at multi-pollutant NCore monitoring sites operate year-round. These changes will become effective January 1, 2017.

Additional changes to the NAAQS include updating the Air Quality Index (AQI), streamlining and modernizing the Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Stations (PAMS) network, and updating the Federal Reference Method for ozone to include an additional method for measuring ozone in outdoor air.

Many state agencies will host stakeholder meetings over the next year as they begin to identify potential ozone non-attainment areas. Check your state’s website to follow their activities.

If you have any questions about the 2015 ozone NAAQS and their implications to your facility, please contact either Amy Ritts (aritts@cecinc.com; 888-598-6808). More information on the ozone standards is available at http://www3.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/actions.html.

Proposed Revisions to National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone

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On November 25, 2014 the USEPA (EPA) proposed to lower the primary and secondary national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone (the main component of smog).  The proposed revision was published in the Federal Register on December 17, 2014, and comments were accepted through March 17, 2015.  The final rule will be issued by October 1, 2015.

Primary NAAQS establish pollutant concentrations intended to protect public health with an “adequate margin of safety,” as required by the Clean Air Act.  Secondary NAAQS are set to protect the public welfare (such as trees, plants and ecosystems) from “any known or anticipated adverse effects.”  In accordance with the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to review the NAAQS every 5 years to determine whether the standards remain “requisite to protect public health” (i.e., neither more or less stringent than necessary).  The primary and secondary ozone NAAQS were last set in 2008, when the 75 ppb, 8-hour standard became effective.

The EPA proposed that the current primary ozone NAAQS of 75 ppb is no longer sufficient to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety and should be lowered into the range of 65 to 70 ppb.  The averaging time and form of the standard will remain the same, with compliance demonstrated when the fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hour ozone concentration per year, averaged over 3 years, is less than or equal to the level of the standard.  The EPA accepted comments on setting the standard as low as 60 ppb, as well as retaining the current standard of 75 ppb.  Likewise, the EPA proposed that the current secondary ozone NAAQS is no longer sufficient to protect public welfare and should be revised to between 13 and 17 ppm-hrs, as defined in terms of seasonal index W126, which is equivalent to between 65 to 70 ppb.  The EPA accepted comments on defining the level of protection as low as 7 to 13 ppm-hrs, as well as retaining the existing standard.

Based on the three-year average of monitoring data collected in 2011 through 2013, 358 counties (shown on the map below) would violate the NAAQS if lowered to 70 ppb and 200 additional counties (558 counties, total) would violate the NAAQS if lowered to 65 ppb.  (Please note:  This includes calendar year 2012 data which reflects increased ozone formation due to above-average temperatures and below-average humidity in central and eastern parts of the country.  The final attainment designations will be based on monitoring data from the three-year period of 2014 through 2016, and it is possible that some of the counties that are projected to be in violation of the new standard will actually be in attainment.)

Source: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/pdfs/20141126-ozonemaps.pdf

If a county is designated as nonattainment, new major sources or existing major sources planning to make a major modification in that area will become subject to nonattainment new source review (NNSR) considerations for ozone.  There are many challenges associated with NNSR permitting including evaluation and implementation of lowest available emission rate (LAER).  With LAER, the highest level of control is required without regard to cost.  In addition, facilities are required to achieve a net reduction of the nonattainment pollutant emissions by obtaining emission offsets.  Offsets can be expensive due to high demand and limited quantity.  Facilities which have preconstruction permit applications well under the review process will be grandfathered at the time the final standard is issued.

The EPA has also proposed extending the monitoring season in 33 states to address findings that ozone levels can be elevated earlier in the spring and later in the fall than the current monitoring season time frame.  This extension ranges from the addition of one month for some states to requiring year-round monitoring for others.  The proposed effective date for the extended monitoring season is January 1, 2017.

The current timeline for EPA issuing a final regulation either leaving the NAAQS at the current standard or lowering the value, as well as all associated activities, is as follows:

  • October 2015 – EPA finalizes standard
  • October 2016 – States recommend non-attainment designations to EPA
  • October 2017 – EPA makes final non-attainment designations
  • 2020-2021 – State Implementation Plans (SIPs) due (date dependent on severity of non-attainment designation
  • 2020-2037 – States must comply with the standard (date dependent on severity of non-attainment designation)

On March 17, 2015, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives introduced bills to block the proposed changes to the ozone NAAQS based largely on economic concerns.  The bills, presented by senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Thune (R-SD) and Representatives Pete Olson (R-TX) and Robert E. Latta (R-OH)  would prevent the EPA from lowering the standard until at least 85% of U.S. counties that are currently not in attainment with the 2008 standard attain the 75 ppb ground-level ozone concentration level.  It is unclear what effect these bills may have, considering the Supreme Court’s 2001 affirmation in Whitman v. American Trucking Associations, Inc. that the Clean Air Act “unambiguously bars cost considerations from the NAAQS setting process.”  However the bills help to focus attention on the importance of economic costs when the EPA and states work to implement new air quality standards.  CEC will follow how the proposed bills will impact EPA’s deadline to finalize the rule as well as any impacts on the final standards set in the final rule.

If you have any questions about the proposed changes to the ground-level ozone NAAQS and their implications to your facility, please contact either Amy Ritts (aritts@cecinc.com; 888-598-6808). More information on the proposed standards is available at http://www.epa.gov/glo/actions.html.