EPA regulatory proposals that address emissions from boilers, process heaters, and certain solid waste incinerators

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 14:02.

On April 29, 2010, EPA proposed a set of regulatory proposals under the Clean Air Act that address emissions from boilers, process heaters, and certain solid waste incinerators. These rules would significantly cut emissions of pollutants that are of particular concern for children. Mercury and lead can cause adverse affects on children's developing brains -- including effects on IQ, learning, and memory. The rules would also reduce emissions of other pollutants including cadmium, dioxin, furans, formaldehyde and hydrochloric acid. These pollutants can cause cancer or other adverse health effects in adults and children. Together, these rules would cut mercury and other air toxics emissions from nearly 200,000 units across the U.S.

Boilers burn natural gas, coal, wood, oil, or other fuel to produce steam. The steam is used to produce electricity or provide heat. Process heaters heat raw or intermediate materials during an industrial process. Boilers and process heaters are used at facilities such as refineries, chemical and manufacturing plants, and paper mills and may stand alone to provide heat for shopping malls and university heating systems.

Incinerators burn waste to dispose of it. Some recover energy.

Boiler and commercial/industrial solid waste incinerator (CISWI) regulations are closely related because similar units may be considered boilers or CISWI units based on whether or not they burn solid waste materials.

As part of this action, EPA is also proposing which non-hazardous secondary materials would be considered solid waste and which would be considered fuel. This distinction would determine whether a material can be burned in a boiler or whether it must be burned in a solid waste incinerator. The agency is also soliciting comment on several other broader approaches that would identify additional non-hazardous secondary materials as solid waste when burned in combustion units.

More information on these proposals


Coverage of this in the Columbus Dispatch:

Toxic emissions targeted - EPA proposal would cut mercury pollution released by boilers that generate power

Saturday,  May 1, 2010 2:50 AM - By jtorry [at] dispatch [dot] com - THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

WASHINGTON  -- The Obama administration yesterday proposed tough rules that would sharply restrict emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from the boilers that provide power for many Ohio factories and universities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed action would reduce mercury emissions by more than 50 percent from tens of thousands of industrial boilers across the country. Environmentalists cheered the move.

The new rules, if put into effect, will have a major impact on virtually every part of the United States, particularly the industrial Midwest. Industrial boilers are second only to coal-fired utility plants in emissions of mercury, which can cause damage to the brains and nervous systems of children.

Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council called the proposed rules "long overdue, especially in a highly industrialized state like Ohio. Thousands of people live in the shadow of industrial smokestacks, and those folks deserve more protection."

Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown had urged EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in March to adopt less-stringent rules, warning that tougher restrictions could impose higher costs on many Ohio companies and universities, and cost jobs.

Jennifer Scoggins, a Voinovich spokeswoman, said that while Voinovich was still reviewing the proposed regulations, "It appears the standards now under consideration lack sufficient flexibility to reduce emissions at a reasonable cost."

Meghan Dubyak, a Brown spokeswoman, said that while Brown "supports efforts to improve air quality in Ohio and across the nation," he "will continue to work with EPA to ensure that the final rule reflects the health and economic needs of Ohioans."

Many factories, universities, hotels, shopping malls and commercial buildings produce their own electricity and heat from their own boilers, many of which burn natural gas, coal and oil.

In addition, the proposed rules would require steep reductions in toxic emissions from incinerators that burn solid waste at commercial and industrial sites.

Heidi Griesmer, spokeswoman for the Ohio EPA's air division, said the state has hundreds of boilers that provide power for hospitals, schools and factories.

The federal EPA has said it would allow 45 days for public reaction, including hearings, which would let U.S. companies object. The EPA hopes the proposed regulations will go into effect by the end of the year.

Representatives of major industries in Ohio were scrambling yesterday to gauge the impact of the proposed rules. Ryan Augsburger, managing director of public policy purposes for the Ohio Manufacturers' Association, said state industries "will be reviewing the new proposal to see if it imposes unnecessarily burdensome costs on industry."

Jennifer Klein, director of energy and environmental policy for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, said she had not seen the rules yet, but, "We're always concerned with any new regulations that could impact Ohio's ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace."

By contrast, environmentalists were delighted. Frank O'Donnell, president of the Clean Air Watch, a nonprofit environmental organization in Washington, said, "This is one of the most significant steps taken by the Obama EPA to protect public health. Literally thousands of dirty-air deaths would be prevented each year."

Under the 1990 Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to review its rules on emissions of toxic pollutants. The administration of former President George W. Bush issued rules in 2005 on industrial boilers that environmentalists argued were too weak.

In 2007, a federal appeals court in Washington struck down the Bush administration rules. The EPA had until yesterday to publicly unveil its proposed regulations.

The EPA said the new rules would save as much as $44 billion every year on health costs and prevent as many as 5,200 premature deaths.

jtorry [at] dispatch [dot] com

Coverage of this outside Ohio...

New federal rule targets harmful mercury emissions

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration says 5,000 deaths could be prevented each year under new rules announced Friday to limit the amount of mercury and other harmful pollutants released by industrial boilers and solid waste incinerators.

The planned rules would reduce mercury emissions more than 50 percent by requiring steep and costly cuts from companies operating some 200,000 industrial boilers, heaters and incinerators.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed the rules Friday and must seek public comment before they are made final.

Industrial boilers and heaters are the second largest source of mercury emissions in the United States, after coal-fired power plants. The boilers burn coal and other fuels to generate heat or electricity and are used by petroleum refiners, chemical and manufacturing plants, paper mills, municipal utilities and even shopping malls and universities.

The incinerators burn waste to dispose of it, and some also turn it into energy.

The EPA said the new federal limits would save lives and prevent up to 36,000 asthma attacks each year by reducing air pollution.

Once airborne, mercury eventually settles in water, where it builds up in ocean and freshwater fish and can be highly toxic to people who eat them. Mercury can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in children and fetuses.

The estimated cost of installing and operating the required pollution controls total about $3.6 billion per year, the EPA said.

Some lawmakers representing industrial states have protested placing the added burden on businesses when many are struggling because of the recession.

Sen. Robert Casey, D-Penn., wrote in a March 17 letter to the EPA that forcing companies to spend so much "will only result in plant closings and further loss of jobs."

A spokesman for Casey said Friday the senator was reviewing the new rule and had no immediate comment.

The EPA estimated the rules would lead to savings of $18 billion to $44 billion annually, measured in work days not missed, hospital visits avoided and illnesses prevented.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson called the proposed rule "a cost-effective, common-sense way to protect our health and the health of our children, and get America moving into the clean economy of the future."

Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, said the rules are "a huge step toward protecting children from toxic mercury and other hazards from smokestack pollution."

The limits would take effect after a 45-day public comment period. A hearing is likely in June.


On the Net:

EPA mercury rule: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion/