Significant changes are in the works for the Air Toxics Hot Spots Program (also known as AB2588) within the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). On May 26th, 2016, SCAQMD held a working group meeting to discuss Proposed Amended Rule (PAR) 1402, which outlines the requirements for existing facilities that release toxic air contaminant emissions. During the meeting, SCAQMD released a Draft PAR 1402 and discussed their future implementation and enforcement intentions. Once finalized, SCAQMD plans to increase enforcement of Rule 1402, and facilities within the AB2588 program need to be ready to respond to the various reporting, planning, and risk reduction requirements.
Facility Risk Level Definitions
As part of PAR 1402, SCAQMD developed new risk level definitions for facilities within the AB2588 program.
The cancer and non-cancer risks included in the definitions are calculated based on facility-wide toxic emissions.
What’s going to happen?
All facilities above the Significant Risk Level and any facility deemed a Potentially High Risk Facility will receive a letter from SCAQMD to take action. Some, but not all facilities above the Notification Level or Risk Action level will receive a similar letter. The number of facilities that receive letters will be determined by SCAQMD’s workload capacity.
Once a letter is received, the facility must prepare and submit an air toxics inventory report (ATIR), a health risk assessment (HRA), and a risk reduction plan (RRP). In addition, the facility will be required to perform public notification to inform neighboring communities about potential health risks associated with the facility’s emissions. Facilities must act quickly once a letter has been received, as the allowed response times are very short. For example, under PAR 1402, facilities will have only 30 days after receipt of the letter to prepare and submit their ATIR.
RRPs are costly, time consuming, and complex. Within the RPP, the facility must outline its strategy for reducing the facility-wide risk to below the Risk Action Level. Strategies often include purchasing and installing new pollution control equipment, implementation of process changes, or agreeing to production decreases. Facilities must implement their respective RPPs within two to three years from receipt of the letter.
Voluntary Reduction Program
Reporting year 2015 was the first year where the Revised OEHHA Guidelines were used to calculate facility risk levels. Under the revised guidelines, a facility’s cancer risk may increase, even if the facility’s emissions did not increase. If a facility is now above the Risk Action Level due to the new risk calculation methodology, then this facility is eligible for a Voluntary Risk Reduction Plan (VRRP). For example, if a facility has an SCAQMD-approved HRA with a score of 11 under the old OEHHA guidelines, but under the new guidelines their cancer risk is 32, then this facility can go into the Voluntary Risk Reduction Program.
A facility that elects to go into the VRRP must develop and implement a plan to reduce the facility’s risk to below 10 in one million cancer risk and 1.0 hazard index. In return, SCAQMD will perform the required public notification (this SCAQMD notification will be potentially positive PR), and the facility will comply with Rule 1402 and AB2588 until its next quadrennial reporting cycle. Facilities that do not choose to go into the VRRP must follow the standard pathway that includes the ATIR, HRA, and RRP.
SCAQMD will continue to hold working group meetings in order to refine the proposed regulatory language. Finalization of the rule is expected to occur in October 2016, and letters are expected to be sent out shortly after rule finalization. Facilities should ensure that their toxic emissions inventories are accurate. Alta Environmental can help AB2588 facilities by reviewing toxic emission inventories to ensure toxic emissions are not over-reported and by guiding facilities through the risk reduction process.
Alta provides expertise in aspects of air and environmental compliance. Contact Chris Waller at Chris.Waller@altaenviron.com or 888-608-3010 for more information.