Canada: Ontario Proposing Tougher ESDM Requirements, And Offering Foundries And Forest Products Companies Some Relief From Local Air Quality Standards

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is proposing a new compliance option for two industry sectors. Forest products industries and foundries may not be able to meet some of the tougher new air quality standards as of next February. These industries will have the option of meeting new "technical standards" as a substitute for compliance with point of impingement standards. Foundries that choose the new compliance option will be given up to four years to make the necessary technical upgrades and process changes, while those in the forestry sector will have up to 10 years to comply with certain of the requirements.

The technical standards are the result of extensive discussions with the affected sectors over the last two years. The ministry says that no active discussions with any other sectors are currently underway. If the proposed amendments are well received by the regulated community, they could be in place by the time the first wave of new POI standards take effect in February 2010.

MOE representatives are available, upon request, to attend stakeholder meetings with industrial associations or to meet with public health and environmental groups. On June 10, 2009, MOE posted its proposed sector-specific technical standards for the forest products and foundry sectors. The 90-day comment period on the three proposals ends September 8, 2009. At the same time MOE released a number of "housekeeping" changes, updates and consequential revisions.

Currently, a regulated industry has two compliance options: either meet the contaminant-specific point of impingement (POI) standards, which become more strict for many industries in 2010 and 2013; or, if this is not technically or economically feasible, apply for a facility-specific altered standard. The alteration of standard application process is onerous, requiring both extensive public consultation and the preparation of complex technology benchmarking reports. To date, only six applications have been made for section 32 altered standards, with five of those still in the approvals pipeline.

The new sector-specific technical standards will allow hundreds of foundries, sawmills, wood products companies, and pulp and paper mills greater flexibility. To take advantage of the option, a firm would register and commit to complying with the specified technical and operational requirements within the regulated time frame. These requirements could entail the implementation of pollution controls and other technical solutions, process improvements, good engineering practices, material substitutions, maintenance practices, and proper start up and shut down routines. The air standards set out in O. Reg. 419/05 would no longer apply to the contaminants in the technical standard for that sector, and facilities would not include those contaminants in any future Emission Summary Dispersion Modelling (ESDM) reports. A list of registered facilities would be posted on the MOE website.

EBR #

Title

Description of Proposal

EBR#010- 6587

"Proposed Amendments to O. Reg. 419/05 (Air Pollution: Local Air Quality), including a Sector-Based Approach for Improving Air Pollution".

This document provides a general overview of the proposed sectorbased approach, including the contents of a sector-based technical standard, examples of such standards, registration requirements for a sector-based approach, and public access to information. The document also describes other proposed amendments, including:

  • updating the North America Industrial Classification System (NAICS) Codes listed in Schedules 4 and 5;
  • revoking Reg. 336 (Air Contaminants from Ferrous Foundries) which is outdated and redundant;
  • updating the list of approved dispersion models to remove ISCPRIME;
  • amending s.10 of the regulation to clarify that operating conditions must include start up, shut down and process malfunctions (upsets), if these conditions result in the highest concentration of a contaminant at a POI;
  • clarifying that this regulation does not apply to discharges of heat, sound or vibration; and
  • other technical, administration amendments or consequential amendments to O. Reg. 419/05 or other regulations required to support the proposal.

EBR#010- 6588

"Proposed Sector-Based Approach to Managing Air Pollution in the Foundry Sector under O. Reg. 419/05"

There are approximately 100 companies in the Foundry Sector (NAICS Code 3315), many of which are small or medium-sized enterprises, primarily engaged in pouring molten metal into moulds or dies and castings. The sector is facing new standards for lead (with a phase-in date of 2010) and cadmium (by 2013). MOE is also reviewing standards for chromium, nickel, manganese, copper and zinc. The proposed Technical Standard for the sector covers:

  • the contaminant(s) of concern (lead, chromium, cadmium, manganese, nickel, arsenic, vanadium, mercury, VOCs, and suspended particulate);
  • significant sources of those contaminants and the technical and operational methods available to minimize impacts;
  • ventilation / emission capture requirements for sources;
  • specified pollution control devices;
  • operating and maintenance requirements;
  • record keeping and reporting requirements; and
  • timelines for implementation those requirements (ranging from 3 months to February 1, 2014).

EBR#010- 6589

"Proposed Sector-Based Approach to Managing Air Pollution in the Forest Products Sector under O. Reg. 419/05"

The Forest Products Sector (NAICS Codes 3211, 3212 and 3221) includes up to 200 facilities that can be subdivided into three subsectors: saw mills; veneer, plywood and engineered wood product manufacturing; and pulp, paper and paperboard mills. In 2005, MOE set a standard for acrolein to be phased in February 1, 2010, that many of the companies in the sector said would be difficult to meet. The proposed Technical Standards for each of the three subsectors cover:

  • a list of the significant sources of acrolein and the technical and operational methods available to minimize impacts;
  • operating and maintenance requirements;
  • reporting requirements including registration; and
  • timelines for implementation of requirements (ranging from February 1, 2011, to February 1, 2020).

The proposed amendments to O. Reg. 419/05 included a number of changes characterized by MOE as routine or housekeeping. However, "clarification" of MOE expectations for ESDM reports may be problematic. The amendments "clarify" that the MOE will expect companies to incorporate emissions during "start up, shut down and process malfunctions (upsets)" into their modeling of facility emissions and off–site impacts. Contrary to widespread and accepted practice, this new procedure could significantly increase estimates of typical average and maximum emissions. For some industries, this may make the difference between compliance and non–compliance.

W+SEL will continue to follow the implementation of the air pollution regulations and post e-flashes as relevant developments occur. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the new sector-specific technical approaches or regulatory compliance in general, contact Doug Petrie or John Willms.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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