Zeroing In On NSPS And EG For Landfill Gas

Q:How quickly must I re-act to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and Emissions Guidelines (EG)?

A: The timing of a landfill's activities will depend, in part, upon whether the landfill is defined as a "new" landfill under NSPS and how quickly each state adopts the EG rules. NSPS has its own regulatory schedule.

States are required to adopt and submit an implementation plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within nine months of the EG requirements' promulgation, which was March 12, 1996. If a state fails to adopt a plan or if a portion or the entire plan is not approved, EPA may be forced to publish its own plan. In that case, EG implementation may be delayed further. Con-sequently, landfill owners and operators should be prepared to monitor their state's rulemaking process and schedule.

Q: How do I determine whether my landfill is a new or existing facility?

A: A new facility is defined as a municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill that began construction, reconstruction, modification or initial waste ac-ceptance on or after May 30, 1991.

The NSPS General Provisions define a "modification" as a physical or operational change that results in increased emissions of any regulated pollutant. For example, a physical or operational change that would in-crease emissions, according to EPA's NSPS and EG Enabling Document, is one that augments the landfill's design capacity either by increasing the depth of refuse, by increasing the refuse density through compaction or by a lateral expansion.

Q: Which date determines my landfill's classification? Is it the date our permit for the new landfill or in-creased design capacity received regulatory approval, or when waste was initially placed in the landfill's in-creased capacity?

A: Either the date of your facility's original permit or the permit date of the latest vertical or lateral increase will be the reference for classifying your facility. For example, a facility permitted in 1989 may not have begun depositing waste until 1993. Although at first this facility appears to be "new," it actually would be classified as an existing facility.

Q: I already have an active landfill gas (LFG) collection and control system in place. Am I exempt from the NSPS and EG requirements?

A: Unless your facility meets the exemption criteria, you still will have to meet the NSPS requirements or your state's emissions guidelines. However, you may save some money if your facility had an active LFG collection and control system in place prior to March 12, 1996.

If your LFG system complies with the provisions of S 60.752(b)(2), then you are allowed to determine your site-specific non-methane organic compound concentration (NMOC) and LFG flow rate from the common header pipe, according to S 60.754 (c). This will result in a considerable savings for large facilities when performing Tier II testing.

If your current design was in-stalled to meet a more stringent emission control requirement, such as the South Coast Air Quality Man-agement District's rule 1150.1, your facility will likely meet and/or exceed the NSPS and EG performance-based requirements. Minimal reporting requirements should be all that is necessary to comply with the rule.

Systems installed for energy recovery or Subtitle D off-site migration control may be required to upgrade the components and add new extraction wells to meet the rule's performance requirements.

Q: I own and operate a small MSW landfill. What must I do to ensure compliance with the NSPS and EG?

A: If your facility is classified as new or existing and if its design capacity is below the exemption cutoff of 2.5 million megagrams (ap-proximately 2.75 million tons, 2.5 million cubic meters or 3.27 million cubic yards), you will only be re-quired to submit the Initial Design Capacity Report. However, if a permit is granted for an increase in design capacity, a revised design capacity report is required. If the revised design capacity equals or is greater than the exemption cut-off, NSPS requirements will apply.

Q: What is the difference between NSPS and EG?

A: New sites fall under the NSPS requirements, while existing sites will be required to comply with their state's implementation plan for the EG, which will have many requirements similar to those in the NSPS.

The state-developed EG implementation plans are all required to have a design capacity exemption of 2.5 million megagrams and a cutoff for emissions rate at 50 megagrams of NMOCs per year.

Facilities that exceed the design capacity exemption will be required to calculate emission rates following the NSPS tiered procedure. If emission control systems are required, existing sites will have to follow the same design criteria and the same monitoring, recordkeeping and re-porting requirements after the controls are installed.

Following are the primary differences in the regulatory requirements for the emission guidelines:

* EG will apply to facilities that received waste after November 8, 1987, and which obtained no new construction, modification or reconstruction permits after May 30, 1991;

* State-developed EG typically will be at least as stringent as the NSPS. However, states can include more stringent standards to address local regulations. States also may accept less stringent controls on an individual basis - for example, if unreasonable costs and physical limitations hinder compliance;

* State EG implementation plans must be submitted to the Admini-strator within nine months of the rule's promulgation. The plans are reviewed and either approved or disapproved within four months of submission; and

* All existing facilities must comply with the state plan within 90 days after the Administrator's ap-proval. Compliance typically will involve submitting the initial design capacity and emission rate reports. If the state plan isn't approved within six months, EPA will propose and publish its own plan.

Q: Which landfills will be required to file Title V permits?

A: The new NSPS and EG rules indicate that landfills with less than a 2.5-million-megagram design capacity are not subject to the Title V Operating Permit program - as long as they are not major sources of air pollution. A landfill normally would be considered a major source if it emits air pollutants at or above the following thresholds:

* 10 tons per year of any single hazardous air pollutant;

* 25 tons per year of any combination of hazardous air pollutants; or

* 100 tons per year of any regulated air pollutant.

The threshold levels will vary depending upon the criteria pollutant and the attainment/nonattainment geography.

In the preamble for the NSPS and EG rules, EPA recognized that landfills above the design capacity ex-emption will most likely become major pollutant sources as they reach capacity. Most of these landfills will be required to collect and control LFG. Thus, on one hand, EPA argued that issuing a Title V permit would help implement the NSPS and EG rule. On the other hand, EPA also recognizes that these same Title V permits would terminate because landfill emissions decrease over time.

Many states have received ap-proval of their State Implementation Plans, which outline Title V applicability, reporting and scheduling re-quirements. Landfill owners or operators should contact the state a- gency responsible for issuing Title V program guidance. For example, Florida recently required all landfills with active LFG collection systems, flare systems or passive vent systems to apply for Title V permits.

Q: I am siting a new landfill. Must I apply for a New Source Review (NSR) permit?

A: Prevention of Significant Deteri-oration (PSD) rules apply to all stationary sources with NMOC emissions greater than 50 tons per year. Landfills below the 2.5-million-megagram design capacity may be expected to exceed this level. In this case, states could impose LFG controls to comply with PSD or NSR. Also, components of landfill gas, such as VOCs, are regulated under the nonattainment provisions of the Clean Air Act.