Volume 1, Number 10
A Gossman Consulting, Inc. Publication
October 1995

Subpart CC VOC Emission Controls

David Constans

Barring an extension of this public review period or interference from Congress, the EPA will begin enforcing the Subpart CC VOC Emissions Control provisions on December 6, 1995. There are indications that such a delay will be forthcoming. This is fortunate because it is patently obvious that the EPA plans to vigorously enforce the rules while currently demonstrating a conflicting array of interpretations of the Subpart CC regulations.

As an example: Industry and governmental participants at the Chicago seminar on Air Emissions Control at Waste Management Facilities were told that incoming transports had to conform to the Subpart CC VOC emissions standards immediately upon arrival. Three weeks later, the response to the same question stated that the hazardous waste facility was not responsible for the waste and its VOC emissions until after the waste had been "accepted" per the facility waste analysis plan and the manifest signed. Clearly, a vast difference in interpretation. The latter, of course, makes more sense since the waste facility certainly should not be held responsible for the transports they don't own or for waste they cannot accept. The hazardous waste facility would be required to perform annual emissions tests (using Method 21) for containers used to transport waste within the facility and document such testing. This is not as onerous as it sounds. Any facility that conducts Subpart BE inspections would find this requirement a minor inconvenience.

It would appear that the EPA is implementing this regulation as a stand-alone air emission regulation without consideration of existing practices that are accepted/required by state air permitting agencies. There are two examples of this. The first is that a container used to blend or process waste within a negative pressure room must be "Subpart CC tight", even though any VOC emissions were being captured in a VOC emission control device. EPA's logic for this requirement is that such a requirement will reduce VOC emissions handled by the VOC control device.

Another example is EPA's interpretation of Subpart CC rules as disallowing the use of vapor vent back (vapor balance) systems for VOC emission control. EPA's logic for this interpretation is their view that the transport is not a VOC control device and hence any VOC emissions that leave the system other than through such a device would be viewed as a non-compliant activity. Paraphrasing the EPA's representative at the Atlanta seminar, the waste facility does not control the transport container (trucks and rail cars) and the hatches could be left open allowing the vapors to be vented to the atmosphere. When asked what to do about the state permit requirement mandating the use of vapor vent back systems, this representative's first action was to consult with her colleagues, followed by a "we'll get back with you", which they haven't. A written explanation of why vapor balance systems were more protective of the environment was submitted to EPA's representative at the Atlanta seminar. To date, there has been no response. To be fair, the comment period for the new data availability recently ended October 13. Responses to those comments should follow directly.

GCI's purpose in sending out this newsletter is purely a warning to our clients of EPA's multiple interpretation of the Subpart CC regulation. If the Justice Department had conducted seminars on some new law and had demonstrated such a wide disparity of interpretations, there would have been enormous media attention; most probably along the line of "arbitrary and capricious" with some hope that things would be clarified. If the EPA does issue a "stay" or delay in implementing this regulation, there may be some chance of clarifying this disparity of interpretation. Otherwise, this may be the only warning you will have that the regulation doesn't mean what you think it means.

Surrogate Metals Update

In September of 1994, GCI initiated a dialogue with EPA on the issue of using surrogate metals in Trial/Test Burns to help protect human health and the environment. GCI's concern arose from extensive involvement in the BIF COC testing in 1992. Because the 3-year recertification testing was approaching, we felt it was time for EPA to look at the issue again. (The issue had been previously raised in Cincinnati, Ohio at a technical research meeting in December of 1992).

Despite concern and U.S. Senatorial intervention on behalf of employees in the cement industry, and those people responsible for carrying out emissions testing to complete EPA requirements, we have not yet gotten a definitive response from the EPA on the subject.

EPA is again delaying action on what even they have admitted is an important safety issue. We have been told numerous times by various representatives of EPA that the issue is being discussed, and that the proposal we put forth is both practical and would probably be beneficial to people working on test burns in cement kilns and other BIFs. However, when we ask to have anything put in writing, we are put off. Our office was told a response would be forthcoming in July, then again in August. The most recent communication was with Fred Chanania, Office of Solid Waste, and he relayed that we have gotten all the response we can expect to get, (which still leaves us with nothing in writing that can actually be used). GCI will continue to pursue this issue.