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July 15, 2014
Grain elevator proposal addresses temporary storage

Notwithstanding an industry petition to eliminate the federal New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for grain elevators, the EPA has produced a proposal to both revise the existing NSPS and add a new subpart for grain elevators for which construction, modification, or reconstruction commences after July 9, 2014.

The proposal includes a new approach for including temporary storage capacity in the permanent-storage-capacity calculation.  Under the approach, the full capacity of temporary storage facilities (TSFs) will not be considered permanent storage for applicability purposes.

There are approximately 900 grain elevators in the United States that are subject to the current NSPS, which was issued in 1978 and last reviewed in 1984.  The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the EPA to review and, if appropriate, revise existing NSPSs at least every 8 years.

Affected facilities

The current NSPS (Subpart DD) applies to affected facilities at any grain storage elevators or grain terminal elevators that have specific storage capacities and that store corn, wheat, sorghum, rice, rye, oats, barley, and soybeans, and that are constructed, reconstructed, or modified after August 3, 1978.

The affected facilities at grain elevators are each truck unloading station, truck loading station, barge and ship unloading station, barge and ship loading station, railcar loading station, railcar unloading station, grain dryer, and all grain-handling operations.

Subpart DDa

The EPA is proposing a new Subpart DDa that will include the standards of performance and other provisions in the existing Subpart DD, which reflect current industry operations, plus the following additional new standards:

  • 10 percent opacity standards for barge or ship unloading stations not using an unloading leg and for column dryers using a wire screen.
  • Particulate matter (PM) and opacity standards for affected facilities associated with TSFs consistent with those associated with permanent storage units.  (Regarding the application of temporary storage to permanent storage, the EPA is proposing that the ratio of total annual storage capacity [excluding the capacity of TSFs] to the total grain throughput for those storage facilities be applied to the total TSF capacity, thereby factoring down the TSF capacity.  The result is then added to the total storage capacity calculation to determine if compliance with the NSPS is required.) 
  • PM performance tests conducted every 60 months, opacity tests conducted annually, weekly visual inspections for affected facilities, and visual inspections of fabric filters every 6 months.
  • Records for the new applicability calculation method, excess emissions events, fabric filter inspections, opacity tests, weekly visual inspections and PM tests, and the type of grain processed during performance tests.
  • Requirement to submit electronic copies of performance tests reports to the EPA using EPA’s electronic reporting tool (ERT).
  • New definitions for permanent storage capacity, temporary storage facility, wire screen column dryer, and en-masse drag conveyor.

The EPA is also proposing that the PM standards are applicable at all times, in conformance with a 2008 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (Sierra Club v. EPA).

Industry petition

In 2012, a group of associations calling itself the NSPS Subpart DD Coalition, which includes the National Grain and Feed Association and the National Oilseed Processors Association, sent a petition to the EPA that requested, among other things, that the Agency remove grain elevators from the NSPS program.  According to the petition, the Agency’s original reason for developing this NSPS was to reduce emissions of total suspended particulates (TSP).

However, the coalition argued that in the 34 years since the original NSPS was promulgated, the EPA devalued the regulation of TSP to emphasize small particles.  Since grain elevators emit relatively small amounts of small particles, especially on a national scale, the NSPS has no practical effect, the coalition claims, especially in the context of state and local air control programs that have grown in strength since 1984.

EPA’s proposal was published in the July 9, 2014, FR.

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