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Regulatory Update   |   Jul 21st, 2015 Deadline Approaching for Completion of Coal Combustion Residuals Fugitive Dust Management Plans

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On April 17, 2015, EPA published a final rule to regulate the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR) from electric generation facilities as solid waste under subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The rule establishes location restrictions, design criteria, operating criteria, groundwater monitoring and corrective actions, and closure and post-closure care requirements for CCR landfills and surface impoundments.

Although some aspects of the rule have implementation schedules of up to 42 months from the publication date, affected facilities must comply with requirements for inspections, fugitive dust control, and recordkeeping by October 19, 2015.

What are the Fugitive Dust Control Requirements of EPA’s CCR Rule?

Affected facilities must develop a site-specific fugitive dust control plan for CCR units, roads, and other CCR management and material handling activities. Importantly, these plans must be certified by a professional engineer, posted to a publicly accessible website, include procedures for logging citizen complaints, and describe how the effectiveness of the plan will be assessed.

How is a Fugitive Dust Control Plan Developed?

Development of a pragmatic fugitive dust control plan begins with the assessment of site-specific operations associated with the generation, handling, and management of CCR. After each potential fugitive dust source is identified, potential control options are established, prioritizing each based on ease of implementation, effectiveness, and cost. The control options are then documented in a formal plan.

What are Typical Fugitive Dust Control Options?

Dust control options include facility-specific measures to prevent CCR from becoming airborne. Example control measures may include:

  • Locating CCR inside an enclosure or partial enclosure
  • Wetting the CCR
  • Limiting fall distances at drop points
  • Using wind barriers, compaction, or vegetative covers
  • Applying a daily cover
  • Enforcing reduced vehicle speed limits
  • Covering trucks that transport CCR
  • Limiting CCR management operations during high wind events

Because the initial dust management plan must be completed within a short timeframe, EPA acknowledges that the facility may only be able to present its initial judgement of the measures that may be effective. The plan can be revised based on operating experience and an assessment of the effectiveness of control measures.

How Does a Facility Communicate Information About its Fugitive Dust Management Plan?

An affected facility must establish a publicly-accessible website that supports public interaction regarding a facility’s CCR management plan efforts. An affected facility must consider the management of citizen comments or complaints and assessment of CCR dust management plan effectiveness and then use this information to support any required amendments to the plan.

What Are the Key Challenges in Developing a Compliant CCR Fugitive Dust Management Plan?

Affected facilities should consider the following when developing a CCR fugitive dust management plan:

  • It can be difficult to distinguish dusts associated with CCR operations from other dust at a nearby landfill, surface impoundment, roadway, or other material handling operation. It is therefore likely that an effective CCR fugitive dust management plan will address these other potential sources of fugitive dust as well.
  • A facility should consider how the effectiveness of a fugitive dust control strategy will be assessed at the time the dust management plan is prepared. Establishing the evaluation criteria at the outset will result in a practical CCR fugitive dust management plan.
  • It is important to identify the procedures that will be used to process citizen inquiries or complaints before the required website is launched. This will allow a facility to respond quickly, efficiently, and consistently to citizen inquires or complaints should they arise.
  • There is limited time to complete the assessment, develop the fugitive dust management plan, and post it to a publically accessible website. Facilities that have not yet started the development of plans should start now to complete the effort by October 19, 2015.

Although the deadline for preparation of CCR dust management plans is rapidly approaching, facilities can complete plan development quickly and efficiently by engaging a team that understands the requirements of the rule, CCR management operations, and public relations.

TRC will continue to monitor developments around this regulation and share important updates impacting compliance options and schedule.

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