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Metal fabricators and finishers beware of new air toxics rule

EPA’s new air rules for small sources of air toxics, or hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), in nine categories of metal fabricating and finishing take effect on July 11, 2011. The new rules are part of EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs), and set the maximum achievable control technologies that must be applied for sources with the potential to emit less than 25 tons per year of HAPs, or area sources, in the following categories:    

  • Electrical and Electronic Equipment Finishing Operations
  • Fabricated Metal Products
  • Fabricated Plate Work and Boiler Shops
  • Fabricated Electrical Metal Manufacturing
  • Heating Equipment (except electrical)
  • Industrial Machinery and Equipment Finishing
  • Iron and Steel Forging
  • Primary Metals Product Manufacturing
  • Valves and Pipe Fitting

Area sources in the industrial categories must, for the first time, meet new emission standards if they perform any of the following operations:

  • Dry abrasive blasting
  • Dry grinding and dry polishing with machines
  • Dry machining
  • Spray painting (applies if you are not already subject to the miscellaneous surface coating NESHAP)
  • Welding

Existing area sources in the nine categories, meaning those in existence before April 3, 2008, must be in compliance with the applicable standards by July 25, 2011. In addition, they must notify EPA by July 25, 2011 that they are regulated by the NESHAP, and by November 22, 2011 must notify EPA of their compliance status. Of course, this means that sources not in compliance must in effect turn themselves in.

New sources, meaning sources subject to the area source metal fabricating and finishing standards that began construction or reconstruction after April 3, 2008, must be in compliance upon startup. This means that new sources built after April 3, 2008 that have not yet complied have already operated in violation. Such new sources must also submit their initial and compliance status notifications within 120 days after startup.

Any facility that fabricates or finishes metal products should immediately do three things. First, determine whether your facilities fall within one of the nine source categories listed above. Second, determine whether you perform any of the processes listed above. Third, and most important, determine whether you are in compliance with the applicable standards and, if not, determine what it will take to comply before July 25, 2011.

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