The Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted by Congress to assist local communities in protecting public health by requiring facilities to file an annual EPCRA Tier II Report, identifying hazardous chemical inventories maintained at the facility. Submitting Tier II Reports allows the local emergency personnel to be aware of the chemicals that are present within facilities in their jurisdiction, and prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies.
The annual federal deadline for submitting Tier II Reports is March 1st (more to come on
this deadline). Facilities are required to report any chemicals, which are included within the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). A list of EHSs and their TPQs can be found at 40 CFR 355, Appendix A. The EPA has compiled a “List of Lists” which provides a consolidated list of chemicals that are subject to EPCRA Tier II reporting along with their Threshold Planning Quantities (TPQ). The TPQ is the amount of chemical kept on-site above which you must file a Tier II. It is important to note that ammonia has a Tier II reporting threshold of 500 pounds.
Some states require that Tier II forms be submitted electronically, while other states may require hard copy submittals. Still, others require both digital and printed submissions.
Brownfields, particularly those in urban infill areas, can be successfully redeveloped into housing and other productive uses with significant benefits to the surrounding communities. Redeveloping brownfields is also an important strategy in addressing California’s affordable housing crisis.
However, funding for brownfield redevelopment falls well short of the need, which is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting impacts on budgets. But there is hope. Proposed legislation and budget requests for new sources of funding for brownfield redevelopment are proposed in excess of $100M. These policy shifts and resulting funding would make a big difference.
At the upcoming California Land Recycling Conference, several experts from the public and private sectors will share their insights and the latest information about these potential funding sources and opportunities for affordable housing and infill sites in California.
Moderated by Dan Johnson, Vice President & National Partner for Brownfield Redevelopment at SCS Engineers, the panelists are:
The conference is scheduled for Sept. 22-24, 2020. To join this interactive session, Sept. 23 from 2:15 to 3:00 PST, register at https://bit.ly/2FoWI89. Non-profit and student tickets are $25, government tickets are $50, and General Admission is $75.
Being a landfill operator or owner is a demanding job. Your position requires knowledge of engineering, biology, chemistry, business, technology, and psychology. Most people don’t realize the complexity of landfill operations and the systems, personnel, and equipment that keep everything in balance. That’s okay; it’s part of the job too. The public generates trash, and it is picked up, reused, recycled, or landfilled as communities dictate.
Right now, landfill operations are more challenging than ever – so we’re providing a bit of help from our SCS website library. We hope it helps, but you can always reach out to your project manager for additional assistance.
Strategies for EPA Regulation Limbo
Landfill owners and operators remain in a state of regulatory limbo. Some sites are complying with the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) under Subpart XXX and dealing with the duplicate requirements from Subpart WWW and other issues. Several states have approved Subpart Cf Emission Guidelines (EG) rules, so landfills in those states must begin to comply with those state rules. Several other states have proposed state plan approvals and could see approved EG rules issued soon, as in Virginia. When EPA issues the federal plan for the EG, all of the remaining landfills in states without approved state plans will have to start to comply. This will put all NSPS/EG-applicable landfills into the same boat with the existing Subpart XXX sites. In addition, landfills are figuring out how the new National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) rule overlays on top of the NSPS/EG requirements.
During this period of limbo, where multiple overlapping regulations exist, certain public and private landfill owners within the solid waste industry have endeavored to take a unified and consistent stand on compliance strategies with guidance coming from the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) and the National Waste and Recycling Association (NW&RA). Gabrielle Stephens, Cassandra B. Drotman, and Patrick Sullivan of SCS provide a regulatory update and compliance strategies in their paper Uncertainty EPA has Created with New NSPS XXX and Cf Rules
Staff Shortages and Funding Dilemmas
Many of our clients are in their annual budget period. Needless to say, nearly all municipalities have concerns about the upcoming fiscal year expectations and anticipated medium-term impacts of COVID-19 on local government operations and revenue streams. They have shared goals to:
In response, our team of economists is helping our clients prepare for Fiscal Year 2020/2021, with a Micro-analysis for the near-term (1-2 year) budget/operational impacts. It’s free, and you’ll get results in 2-3 days.
SCS is offering free webinars to discuss revenue diversification alternatives, realistic cost projections, and funding opportunities. We will announce the first webinar in the next week, but if you’d like to get started now contact the SCS Management Services® Lead here for a private session.
Partial Reprint of EPA Press Release
Over the past three years alone, EPA has assessed 6,572 properties, completed cleanups at 638 properties, and made 2,900 properties ready for anticipated reuse. Over this same period, more than 43,000 jobs have been leveraged as a result of Brownfields’ actions.
EPA recently announced the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. Many of the communities and tribes selected can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones.
“Without redevelopment opportunities, urban and rural communities – even those with deep historic roots – can eventually wither,” said OLEM Assistant Administrator Peter Wright. “Brownfields remediation and revitalization support communities by investing in the redevelopment of existing properties in the community.”
Since EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995, it has provided nearly $1.6 billion in Brownfield funding to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s Brownfields funding has leveraged more than $32.6 billion in cleanup and redevelopment from both public and private sources, which in turn has produced more than 167,000 jobs. This is an average of nine jobs per $100,000 of EPA investment and more than $17 in private funding for each dollar of EPA Brownfield grant funding.
Brownfields grants have been shown to:
A Brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. The Brownfields program empowers local leaders and communities to transform underused and distressed properties into community assets across America. Brownfields funds assess and cleanup vacant, underused, and potentially contaminated properties so that property can be reused as housing, recreation, and open space, health facilities, social services, or commercial sites. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 Brownfields in the United States.
For more information on successful Brownfields program applications, site revitalization, and success stories nationwide visit Brownfields and Voluntary Remediation. If you’d rather jump right into a few success stories, click on these below:
Locate a Brownfields and remediation expert near you – SCS Staff
On-Demand Webinar at A&WMA Virtual Conference
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created confusion with its most recent versions of the MSW landfill New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and Emission Guidelines (EG) [40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 60, Subparts XXX and Cf], which were promulgated in August 2016. The NSPS XXX and EG Cf rules do not give clear on and off-ramps from the old NSPS Subpart WWW and EG Subpart Cc rules and have various inconsistent and overlapping requirements. EPA made matters worse by not updating the MSW landfill National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs), 40 CFR Part 63 Subpart AAAA rule at the same time. This created a situation where both the old and new rules could apply simultaneously, even though the new rules were supposed to replace the old rules (with conflicting requirements).
This and other issues forced the industry to petition EPA for relief, and the industry obtained a temporary stay and then a commitment to reconsider the rules. Concurrently, EPA informally agreed not to push forward with approving state plans for the EG under Cf, which gave the industry hope that EPA could fix the rules before most landfills became subject to the new rules via approved state plans. However, some states sued EPA over this delay, and EPA lost. As such, EPA was forced by the courts to begin approving the state plans as well as issue a federal plan for the EG (Subpart OOO), for which a draft rule was published in August 2019 and a final rule is pending.
Also, before they planned to reconsider Subparts XXX/Cf, EPA decided to update the NESHAP rule, including a risk and technology review (RTR). While doing this, EPA also tried to resolve some of the Subpart XXX/Cf issues using the NESHAPs rule as well as add some new requirements not included in the NSPS XXX and EG Cf rules. However, the draft NESHAPs rule demonstrated that EPA had only created more confusion and uncertainty.
The solid waste industry commented on the Subpart AAAA rule and is waiting for EPA to issue it. EPA says the reconsideration of XXX/Cf will not be considered until 2021 or 2022.
Currently, landfill owners and operators remain in a state of limbo. Some sites are complying with Subpart XXX and dealing with the duplicate requirements from Subpart WWW and other issues. Several states have approved Cf EG rules, so landfills in those states must begin to comply with those state rules. Several other states have proposed state plan approvals and could see approved EG rules issued soon. When EPA issues the federal plan for the EG, all of the remaining landfills in states without approved state plans will have to start to comply. This will put all NSPS/EG-applicable landfills into the same boat with the existing Subpart XXX sites with all of the problems that will bring.
The Air & Waste Management Association with SCS Engineers presents on-demand sessions include an update on the status of each of the regulations identified here, a description of the remaining areas of uncertainty and confusion, and a summary of the strategy for compliance in use by landfills during this period of limbo.
Los Angeles County Public Works – Environmental Programs Division is receiving a 2019 Food Recovery Challenge Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency – USEPA this year. The national recognition is for the County’s substantial increase in food recovery and sustainable materials management. EPA’s data-driven awards are based on the information submitted in the Sustainable Materials Management – SMM, Data Management System, and reflect percent changes comparing an organization’s data to the previous year’s data.
LA County Public Works serves 88 cities and a population of more than 10 million people. The County is continually pursuing ways to make its communities more resilient by identifying new SMM actions to address greenhouse gases, waste generation, and pollution.
The ‘Scrape Your Plate’ program encouraged the County’s Public Works employees to divert food waste from area landfills through organics recycling. Collecting food in the headquarters cafeteria and dining area, the program quickly expanded to include 20 on-campus breakrooms and special events at field facilities across the County.
Public Works, in collaboration with the Sanitation Districts, made use of the existing anaerobic digestion infrastructure to convert 13,700 pounds of food waste to electricity. Worm composting bins divert an additional 1,200 pounds of food waste and another 340 pounds were source reduced by improved planning by kitchen staff. All of these diversion tactics reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Getting employees and visitors to separate food waste properly is always a challenge. The project team, including SCS Engineers, significantly reduced cross-contamination by increasing on-site signage and peer-to-peer outreach. Signage, easily updated with user-friendly graphics makes a difference. The team further encourages new social behaviors with an educational video.
Despite the closing of recycling programs in other cities due to the pandemic, LA County Public Works is now expanding its program to recycle other types of organic waste, including food-soiled paper.
Preventing and reducing food waste has a tremendous impact and positive benefits for our nation. Food is a valuable resource. Efforts to reduce food waste and ensure excess food doesn’t go to waste are needed now more than ever. Participants in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2019 prevented or diverted over 815,000 tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving participants up to $42.3 million in avoided landfill tipping fees. The EPA provides many helpful tools on its website.
CERLCA Jurisdiction and PRP Definition
A recent Meyers | Nave publication discusses the Supreme Court’s April 20, 2020 decision in Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian. The firm suggests the decision adds another layer of complexity to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act – CERCLA, liability issue. The decision opens the door for state courts to hear claims that challenge EPA-defined approved clean-ups and has the potential to expand the “potentially responsible party” – PRP class for current “owners” of a “facility.”
The Court’s decision introduces new considerations into CERCLA liability analysis and settlement strategy. The Court’s holding will have many immediate ramifications, including the following:
Clean Water Act Developments
In April, the courts and federal agencies announced major developments significantly affecting regulation under the Clean Water Act – CWA and how the CWA may be applied in the future.
Each of these developments could have far-reaching implications for regulations under the CWA. Assuming the 2020 Rule withstands legal challenges, it is seen as favorable for industry and other regulated entities, while the two judicial decisions are perceived as problematic for such entities. Davis Graham & Stubbs describes each development in more detail in the firm’s recently published article.
MATS Supplemental Cost Finding and Clean Air Act RTR
On April 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2016 Supplemental Cost Finding for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – MATS, for coal- and oil-fired power plants, consistent with a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision. The agency also completed the Clean Air Act-required residual risk and technology review – RTR, for MATS. According to the EPA power plants are already complying with the standards that limit emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), and this final action leaves those emission limits in place and unchanged.
However, with this final action, EPA is not removing coal- and oil-fired power plants from the list of affected source categories for regulation under section 112 of the Clean Air Act, consistent with existing case law. Those power plants remain subject to and must comply with the mercury emissions standards of the MATS rule, which remains fully in effect notwithstanding the revised cost-benefit analysis.
In addition, EPA has completed the required RTR for MATS and determined no changes to the rule are needed to further reduce residual risk. The RTR satisfies the statutory requirements set out by Congress in the Clean Air Act. More information is available on EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards website.
Proposal to Retain NAAQS for Particulate Matter
On April 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – EPA announced its proposal to retain, without changes, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards – NAAQS for particulate matter (PM) including both fine particles (PM2.5) and coarse particles (PM10).
According to the EPA because of Clean Air Act programs and efforts by state, local and tribal governments, as well as technological improvements, average PM2.5 concentrations in the U.S. fell by 39 percent between 2000 and 2018 while average PM10 concentrations fell by 31 percent during the same period.
EPA states it is following the principles established to streamline the NAAQS review process and to fulfill the statutory responsibility to complete the NAAQS review within a 5-year timeframe. More information about the rule can be found at EPA’s: National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (PM) Pollution website.
EPA will accept public comment for 60 days after the proposed standards are published in the Federal Register. EPA plans to issue the final standards by the end of 2020.
U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks Inventory Announcement
The Environmental Protection Agency’s annual report, “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2018,” provides a comprehensive look at U.S. emissions and removals by source, economic sector, and greenhouse gas – GHG. The gases covered by this inventory include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride. The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” e.g., through the uptake of carbon and storage in forests, vegetation, and soils.
On April 13, 2020, the EPA’s comprehensive annual report on nationwide GHG emissions released to the public. It shows that since 2005, national GHG emissions have fallen by 10%, and power sector emissions have fallen by 27%.
“While there was a small rise in emissions due to weather and increased energy demand from the prior year in this report, based on preliminary data, we expect next year’s report to show that the long-term downward trend will continue,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
According to the announcement, annual trends are responsive to weather variability and economic conditions. Year-over-year, national GHG emissions were 3% higher in 2018 than the prior year, due to multiple factors, including increased energy consumption from greater heating and cooling needs due to a colder winter and hotter summer in 2018 compared to 2017.
According to environmental and research groups, driving the drop’s long-term downward trend is chiefly due to a shift away from coal power generation. The 2019 drop was driven by a nearly 10 percent fall in emissions from the power sector, the biggest decline in decades [Rhodium Climate Service]. Utilities are closing coal plants in favor of cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.
Emissions from industry rose slightly last year, and are now greater than those from coal-fired power plants, most driven by a strong economy. Emissions from buildings were up, and emissions from other sectors of the economy collectively grew by more. The shift to lower-carbon energy is largely restricted to the electricity sector, and in order to meet international and state goals, state policies continue to target other sectors that collectively make up a majority of U.S. emissions.
More information is available at EPA’s website Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks.
For more information about potential impacts to waste, energy, or manufacturing please contact your nearest SCS Engineer’s office or your Project Manager.
Pilot-Testing a Novel “Concentrate-&-Destroy” Technology for ‘Green’ and Cost-Effective Destruction of PFAS in Landfill Leachate
One of the recent recipients of EPA’s latest round of small business research grants is investigating a novel technology for treating PFAS in leachate. This project could fill a key technology gap for cost-effectively treating PFAS in landfill leachate. The technology would provide landfill field engineers and decision-makers with a cost-effective solution and mitigate the health impacts as the relevant regulations are rapidly evolving.
The technology is based on an innovative adsorptive photocatalyst (Fe/TNTs@AC) synthesized by modifying low-cost activated carbon (AC) with a cutting-edge photocatalyst, iron-doped titanate nanotubes (Fe/TNTs). The technology works by first concentrating PFAS in water onto Fe/TNTs@AC, and then completely degrading PFAS under UV or solar light. Bench-scale studies indicated that Fe/TNTs@AC can remove >99% of PFOA or PFOS from water via adsorption within 1 hour and degrade nearly 100% of the adsorbed PFAS within 4 hours of UV irradiation. Complete destruction of PFOA also regenerates the material, allowing for repeated uses.
While conventional AC or resins do not degrade PFAS, and while PFAS-saturated AC or resins are hardly regenerable, PFAS on Fe/TNTs@AC are amenable to efficient photocatalytic degradation, which not only destroys PFAS, but regenerates the material. While direct photochemical treatment of PFAS-laden water is often cost-inhibitive, the new technology employs photocatalytic treatment only for spent Fe/TNTs@AC, which is only a fraction of the raw water volume, and thus consumes much less energy.
Phase I commenced on March 1 and runs through August 31, 2020
For more info, see:
SCS periodically prepares Technical Bulletins to highlight items of interest to our clients and friends who have signed up to receive them. We also publish these on our website at http://www.scsengineers.com/publications/technical-bulletins/.
Our most recent Bulletin summarizes the 2020 National Emission Standards For Hazardous Air Pollutants: Solid Waste Landfills. SCS Engineers will continue to post timely information, resources, and presentations to keep you well informed. These include additional guidance, industry reaction, and a webinar with Pat Sullivan on our website and social media accounts.
SCS Contact Information:
Locate an SCS professional near you, or contact SCS at .
SCS will continually update coverage of this Rule on our website blog and social media channels on SCS Engineers LinkedIn and SCS Engineers Facebook. If you have any questions regarding this Technical Bulletin, feel free to contact your local SCS Engineers representative.
EPA’s Interpretation of “Begin Actual Construction” Under the New Source Review Preconstruction Permitting Regulations
This EPA guidance addresses EPA’s interpretation of when an owner or operator must obtain an NSR permit for a major stationary source or major modification before the start of actual construction on the facility. Currently, EPA considers almost every physical on-site construction activity that is of a permanent nature to constitute the beginning of “actual construction,” even where that activity does not involve construction “on an emissions unit.”
The interpretation fails to give meaning to the distinction between an emissions unit and a major stationary source. As such, it tends to prevent source owners/operators from engaging in a wide range of preparatory activities they might otherwise desire to undertake before obtaining an NSR permit. For this reason, EPA is adopting a revised interpretation that is more consistent with the regulatory text.
The proposed revised interpretation will stipulate that a source owner or operator may, prior to obtaining an NSR permit, undertake physical on-site activities – including activities that may be costly, that may significantly alter the site, and/or are permanent in nature – provided that those activities do not constitute physical construction on an emissions unit.
Begin actual construction means, in general, initiation of physical on-site construction activities on an emissions unit, which are of a permanent nature. Such activities include, but are not limited to, installation of building supports and foundations, laying underground pipework and construction of permanent storage structures.
EPA does not find it plausible that NSR permit applicants undertaking significant on-site construction activities prior to permit issuance will allow them to gain leverage with respect to the outcome of the permitting process. Stationary source owners or operators cannot expect that any site activities prior to permitting will alter or influence the BACT analysis for an emissions unit or other elements of a permitting decision. Permit applicants that choose to undertake on-site construction activities in advance of permit issuance do so at their own risk.
EPA is providing an opportunity for interested stakeholders to review and comment on the draft guidance titled, Interpretation of “Begin Actual Construction” Under the New Source Review Preconstruction Permitting Regulations through May 11, 2020. For any questions concerning this memorandum, please contact Juan Santiago, Associate Division Director of the Air Quality Policy Division, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at (919) 541-1084 or .
Submit comments using the form at https://www.epa.gov/nsr/forms/draft-guidance-interpretation-begin-actual-construction-under-new-source-review. EPA will consider the comments received and complete a revised version of the guidance.
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