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Final boiler rules introduced by U.S. EPA

Feb. 25, 2011, Washington, D.C. – The new technology standards for industrial boilers should achieve significant reductions of hazardous air pollutants at a 50% lower cost than the rules proposed last year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


February 25, 2011
By Argus Media

Feb. 25, 2011, Washington, D.C. – The new
technology standards for industrial boilers should achieve significant
reductions of hazardous air pollutants at a 50% lower cost than the rules
proposed last year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA). The final maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for
industrial boilers, heaters, and incinerators “are very different” from those
proposed in April 2010, says Regina McCarthy, head of EPA's office of air and
radiation. The cost of compliance is expected to be $1.8 billion lower than the
agency anticipated under the proposed rules, and the regulations will result in
a net creation of 2,200 new jobs, not including the workers hired for
manufacturing and installing the controls, she says.

But the rules will still achieve
significant health benefits, preventing 26,000 to 66,000 premature deaths.

EPA issued four rules covering boiler
emissions and materials combusted in boilers. McCarthy says the changes from
the April 2010 proposals were based “on a robust data set … much of which was
received from public comments” on the proposals. MACT standards are based on
the best-performing 12% of existing facilities, but the standards proposed in
April were established using data from only nine coal-fired boilers and two
biomass boilers.

Under the final rules, any boiler with a
capacity of 10 million BTU/hour or greater must meet specific emissions
standards for air toxins such as mercury and acid gases by 2014. But EPA
combined the biomass and coal subcategories, which “closed a loophole in the
rule for other solid fuel and offers biomass facilities more flexibility,” says
McCarthy. EPA found that many large boilers will not have to install scrubbers
for mercury and other toxins, but will only need to install baghouses or other
controls for particulate matter. The rule also includes incentives for
coal-fired boilers to consider co-firing with biomass as a way of meeting
emissions limits, says McCarthy.
Of the 200,000
units affected by the four rules, about 1,000 are coal-fired, but they make up
a large part of the total emissions, she says.

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Boilers with a capacity below 10 million
BTU/hour, such as those at churches, hospitals, and apartment buildings, will
have to perform tune-ups every other year rather than meet specific standards.
And boilers that burn natural gas, metal process furnaces, and back-up systems
that are used “very sparingly” can comply by following “work practice
standards” that include an annual tune-up.

Because of the significant changes, EPA is
also immediately initiating a reconsideration process. The agency wants to give
the public a chance to comment on the rules, to correct any “procedural
deficiencies” in the rulemaking process, McCarthy says.

Along with the industrial boiler MACT
standards, EPA also issued MACT standards for solid waste and sewage sludge
incinerators that must be met by 2016. Compliance with the final rules will
cost $12 million and $87 million less, respectively, than the rules proposed in
April, McCarthy says.

EPA also issued its formal definition of
“solid wastes” for non-hazardous secondary materials that are combusted. Mathy
Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's office of solid waste and
emergency response, says any garbage, refuse, sludge, or other material would
qualify as “solid waste” if it has been discarded, abandoned, disposed, or
given away. According to the definition, abandoned coal refuse processed to
lower contaminants and increase energy value would be considered a non-waste
fuel.

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