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October 03, 2013
Draft general stormwater permit for industrial activities released

Twelve changes to the 2008 federal Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity are included in EPA’s draft 2013 MSGP. 

The MSGP applies to 29 industrial sectors and is an alternative to individually issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.  The general permit contains tailored requirements for each sector.  Coverage under the 2008 MSGP, which expired September 29, 2013, is administratively extended until the 2013 permit is issued, provided facilities submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to be covered by the new permit in a timely fashion. 

Areas covered

The proposed 2013 MSGP would apply in areas of the country where the EPA is the NPDES permitting authority.  These areas include four states (Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Mexico), the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and all other U.S. territories with the exception of the U.S. Virgin Islands; facilities operated by federal operators in four states (Colorado, Delaware, Vermont, and Washington); most Indian Country lands; and a couple of other specifically designated activities in specific states (e.g., oil and gas activities in Texas and Oklahoma). 

The complete list, by EPA region, of areas covered by the draft MSGP is provided in Appendix C of the MSGP.

Required actions

To obtain authorization under the draft MSGP, a facility would need to meet eligibility requirements listed in Part 1.1 of the proposed permit; select, design, install, and implement control measures in accordance with Part 2.1 to meet numeric and nonnumeric effluent limits; develop a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) according to the requirements in Part 5 or update the exiting SWPPP consistent with Part 5 before submitting an NOI for coverage under the permit; and submit a complete and accurate NOI as specified in Part 5.

Changes from 2008

The draft MSGP includes the following changes to the 2008 MSGP:

  • The EPA will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to determine the potential environmental impact of the permit. For previous MSGPs, facilities seeking coverage prepared the EAs if they were in a sector subject to new source performance standards (NSPS) for stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity. The EPA said it changed this provision because EAs prepared by operators were not subject to review by the Agency or public notice and comment.
  • All facility submissions must be made electronically unless the facility is granted a waiver.
  • A revision to the prohibition on the discharge of wash waters is included.
  • Completion and submission of a work sheet is required to document compliance with the Endangered Species Act.
  • Facilities must take additional steps to show compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.
  • Facilities must provide a URL on the NOI form to provide greater access to the SWPPP.
  • The draft clarifies effluent-limit requirements applicable to good housekeeping, maintenance, spill prevention, response procedures, and employee training.
  • Additional specificity requirements regarding what is considered a corrective action are included.
  • A change is made in annual reporting to require submission of a summary of the past year’s routine facility inspections and quarterly visual assessments of discharges instead of a summary of the results of the single comprehensive site assessment.
  • Additional non-hardness-dependent metals benchmarks for facilities that discharge into saline waters are included.
  • Changes are proposed to sector-specific requirements for metal mining, coal mining, and mineral mining and dressing (updated requirements consistent with the 2012 construction general permit); and air transportation (based on effluent limitation guidelines for airplane and airport deicing operations).
  • Facilities would be ineligible to discharge to a CERCLA site unless approved by the EPA regional office.

Superfund sites

The EPA has also included in the fact sheet for the draft permit a request for comment on potential permit requirements for certain toxic pollutants in industrial stormwater discharges.  The Agency is concerned that current 2008 and draft 2013 MSGP requirements may not adequately prevent certain particularly problematic toxic pollutants in stormwater discharges from causing  sediment contamination and recontamination of Superfund cleanup sites and/or presenting an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health or welfare or the environment.  

One approach under consideration is to identify and list in the permit certain toxic pollutants of concern that are especially problematic and to make ineligible under the MSGP any discharge of these pollutants above the detection limit.

Comments on the draft 2013 MSGP must be received by the EPA by November 26, 2013.

The Agency’s notice of availability of the draft permit was published in the September 27, 2013, FR.

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