EPA Amends Two Provisions of 2016 NSPS for Oil and Gas Industry

WASHINGTON — EPA has finalized amendments for certain requirements contained within the 2016 oil and gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and proposed to withdraw the control techniques guidelines (CTG) – an action that EPA estimates would save $14 to $16 million in regulatory compliance costs for the oil and gas industry from 2021-2035.

“The technical amendments to the 2016 oil and gas NSPS are meant to alleviate targeted regulatory compliance issues faced by affected sources,” said EPA Office of Air and Radiation Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum.  “While this action addresses an immediate need, it does not deter the ongoing work at the Agency to assess the 2016 rule as a whole, including whether it is prudent or necessary to directly regulate methane.”

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Proposed Changes to EPA Method 202 for Condensable Particulate Matter (CPM)

On August 23, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed technical revisions and editorial changes to clarify and update the procedures specified in Method 202.

Method 202 describes the procedures that stack testers must follow to measure condensable particulate matter (CPM) emissions from stationary sources. It is known as the “dry impinger” method.  The proposal does not modify the method significantly. It is in line with steps EPA has taken since 2010 to improve the implementation of the method and promote consistency in the measurement of CPM.

EPA is proposing the following revisions to Method 202:

  • Revisions to the procedures for determining the systematic error of the method, which is used to correct the results of the measurements made using this method;
  • Removes some procedural options to the method to standardize the way method is performed while also eliminating the potential for additional blank contamination;
  • Revise overly prescriptive requirements for the method specific reagents and equipment with more flexible performance-based criteria; and
  • Revise the method to correct inconsistent terminology, improve the readability, and to simplify the text to aid in consistent implementation of the method.

BACKGROUND

In 2010, the EPA revised Method 202 for determining condensable particulate matter (PM) from stationary sources to improve the measurement of fine PM emissions. These revisions increased the precision of Method 202 and reduced potential bias. The revisions improved the consistency in the measurements obtained between source tests performed under different regulatory authorities.

In 2014, the EPA issued interim guidance on the treatment of CPM results in the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Nonattainment NSR Permitting Programs. The guidance addressed concerns that the use of source-specific CPM test results obtained with Method 202 could include a positive bias — resulting in the overestimation of emissions due to the potential for blank contamination associated with the implementation of Method 202. As part of this guidance, the EPA announced plans to issue guidance on best practices for Method 202 implementation and to revise Method 202 as necessary.

In 2016, EPA issued the Best Practices Handbook to mitigate the bias concern, which was developed with significant input from stakeholders and trade groups. The proposed technical revisions incorporate the findings from the handbook.

FOR MORE INFORMATON

EPA Issues New Emissions Factors for Enclosed Ground Flares

Background

On February 5, 2018, EPA completed its review of the emissions factor for volatile organic compounds (VOC) for flares at natural gas production sites pursuant to section 130 of the Clean Air Act.

EPA evaluated test data available to the Agency for elevated and enclosed ground flares from natural gas production sites.  The agency’s review of available flare data did not result in a revision to this VOC factor, which remains available for estimating VOC emissions from elevated flares at natural gas production sites.

EPA has developed two new THC emissions factors for enclosed ground flares at natural gas production sites.  The EPA recommends the use of the new THC emissions factors to estimate VOC emissions for enclosed ground flares with the SCCs specified in Table 1, as this new emissions factor is based on field data from similar units.  Additionally, EPA has developed four new THC emissions factor for enclosed ground flares at certain chemical manufacturing processes.

Additional information about the review of the factor is below.

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EPA Adds Additional Public Sessions to Address Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold three additional public listening sessions on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan in San Francisco, Calif., Gillette, Wyo. and Kansas City, Mo.

“Due to the overwhelming response to our West Virginia hearing, we are announcing additional opportunities for the public to voice their views to the Agency,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Public listening sessions will be on EPA’s proposed repeal of the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (commonly known as the Clean Power Plan). Dates and specific locations will be released in coming weeks; please see the website for details. All persons wanting to speak are encouraged to register in advance.

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EPA Advances Cooperative Federalism Through Designation Process for Sulfur Dioxide and Ozone Standards

WASHINGTON (December 22, 2017) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the next steps in the Clean Air Act process to determine which areas of the country meet national air quality standards for ground-level ozone and sulfur dioxide. In November 2017, the Agency designated the vast majority of U.S. counties as meeting the air quality standards set by EPA’s 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone. EPA is responding to state and tribal recommendations for ozone designations for the remaining areas and providing additional opportunities for state, tribal, and public input on those areas’ designations. The Agency is also finalizing designations for certain areas for the 2010 sulfur dioxide NAAQS.

“Cooperative federalism is key to maintaining clean air,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Largely due to work by the states and new technological advances by the private sector, monitored levels of SO2 have dropped 85 percent and levels of ozone have decreased 22 percent nationwide since 1990. I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made and will continue working alongside states, tribes, and localities to determine the best methods to meet air quality standards.”

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Delaware Plans to Sue EPA for Upwind Air Pollution Relief

Delaware state authorities said Tuesday that they intend to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to curb the upwind air pollution generated by power plants in neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“The Clean Air Act entitles Delaware to relief from upwind pollution and the remedy we are seeking is reasonable and within EPA’s authority and responsibility to grant,” said Delaware Governor John Carney.  The governor’s statements come after four petitions to the EPA in 2016 were unsuccessful in bringing relief from the pollution.

Delaware authorities claim that about 90 percent of the smog in Delaware is caused from uncontrolled emissions in upwind states.  The carriage of air pollution from other states is cited by Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Controls as the reason Delaware struggles to meet federal air quality standards.

“It is now time for EPA to hold upwind sources accountable for ozone emissions that are impacting downwind states,” the department’s secretary, Shawn Garvin, said.

 

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Three Decades of Condensable Particulate Matter (CPM) Regulation

2017-03-17 Three Decades of CPM Regulation

WHAT IS CONDENSABLE PARTICULATE MATTER?

Condensable Particulate Matter (CPM) is material that is in a vapor state at stack conditions, but condenses and/or reacts upon cooling and dilution in the ambient air to become solid or liquid Particulate Matter (PM) immediately after discharging from the stack.  All CPM is assumed to be in the PM2.5 size fraction.

HOW DID EPA CPM REGULATIONS DEVELOP?

1987  After promulgating the PM10 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) the EPA began recommending that, in certain circumstances, states consider including the condensable portion of PM10 emissions in the determination of total and fine PM emissions from major stationary sources.

1991  EPA Promulgated Method 202.  The original Method used wet impingers – in which sulfur dioxide was captured and formed sulfur trioxide and sulfuric acid artifacts. This caused captures to be biased high by improperly quantifying the sulfuric artifacts as condensable PM.

[Read more…]

OSHA News: US Department of Labor Issues Final Rule to Lower Beryllium Levels

2017-01-06 New OSHA Rule for Beryllium Exposure

WASHINGTON – A new rule issued today by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration dramatically lowers workplace exposure to beryllium, a strategically important material that can cause devastating lung diseases. The new beryllium standards for general industry, construction and shipyards will require employers to take additional, practical measures to protect an estimated 62,000 workers from these serious risks.

Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in the aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunication, medical and defense industries. However, it is highly toxic when beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fume, or mist into the workplace air that can be then inhaled by workers, potentially damaging their lungs.

Recent scientific evidence shows that low-level exposures to beryllium can cause serious lung disease. The new rule revises previous beryllium permissible exposure limits, which were based on decades-old studies.

[Read more…]

The Benefits of Automated Particulate Analysis by SEM-EDS

Automated Particle Analysis by SEM/EDS

When encountering puzzling particulate results, questions arise such as:

What species of particulate are in this sample?

What is the chemical composition of these particles?

What is the particle size distribution of this sample?

Automated particle analysis by Scanning Electron Microscopy and Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry (SEM-EDS) provides a method to answer questions about particle populations that arise in a very wide range of industries. Some examples of SEM-EDS application include: wear particle analysis, size distribution of pharmaceutical ingredients, source determination of airborne particulate, and nanoparticle characterization.  SEM-EDS can also determine whether non-process related particulate is biasing the catch through identification of particle species and chemical composition.

SEM-EDS is a powerful analytical tool for obtaining concise information about a particulate sample.

Figure 1: Representative Automated Particle Analysis High Contrast

Figure 1: Representative Automated Particle Analysis High Contrast

The first step in SEM/EDS automated particle analysis is to acquire a background image with sufficient contrast between the background and the particles so that image analysis can differentiate between them (Figure 1).  For automated image analysis systems, a “particle” is defined as a set of contiguous pixels all of which are brighter (or more rarely, darker) than the threshold brightness used to define the surrounding “background” pixels.

Next, particles are recognized by the image analysis system (which is a part of the SEM/EDS software).  Figure 2 shows the same field of view as Figure 1, except that there is indication of the particle count that the system has identified.  The analysis system saves the location of each particle and then two-dimensional size and shape parameters for each particle are determined. Typical parameters include maximum, minimum and average diameters, perimeter, and aspect ratio.

Figure 2: Representative Automated Particle Analysis

Figure 2: Representative Automated Particle Analysis

Once the particles in the field of view are recognized, the automation system of the microscope conducts a chemical analysis of each particle to acquire the signature on an EDS spectrum.  A typical example appears as Figure 3.  A peak in the EDS spectrum indicates the presence of the corresponding element in the particle which can then be classified based on its composition.  In Figure 3, the spectrum shows the particle to be composed of Iron (Fe) and Oxygen (O), indicating an Iron Oxide particle.

Once every particle in the field of view is recognized and its dimensions and composition saved, the microscope moves to a new field of view and the process is repeated until a set number of particles or a predetermined number of fields of view have been analyzed.  Using this systematic analysis sampling allows for the characterization (size, shape, composition) of hundreds and even thousands of particles in just a few hours without operator involvement beyond the initial setup.

Figure 3: Representative EDS Spectrum of Automated Particle Analysis

Figure 3: Representative EDS Spectrum of Automated Particle Analysis

Finally, the results are tabulated, giving a complete picture of the particle types, sizes, and shapes.  The tabulation is entirely customizable since all of the data (size, shape, composition) is stored for each individual particle.

Table A: Percent Distribution of Particles by Mass with Corresponding Emission Rate

Amount of Particulate Emitted in One (1) Hour = 10 lbs


Particle Size
(microns)

Distribution
(%)

Particle Emission Rate
(lb/hr)

0.5 – 1.0


53.05


5.305

1.0 – 2.5 37.25 3.725
2.5 – 5.0 7.57 0.757
5.0 – 7.5 1.44 0.144
7.5 – 10 .40 0.04
10 – 25 0.28 0.028
25 – 50 0.00 0
50– 100 0.01 0.001
>100 0.00 0
TOTALS 100 10

ESS provides emissions testing, air quality analysis, and consulting services for manufacturers, municipal water treatment plants, public utilities, paper mills, and other industrial facilities in the US and overseas.  Since its inception in 1979, ESS has conducted thousands of emissions tests and provided countless hours of environmental consulting services.  ESS specializes in conducting the EPA testing methods for all applicable EPA subparts, such as: NSPS (40 CFR 60), NESHAP (40 CFR 63), RATA (40 CFR 75), and various other federal and state regulations.

We are committed to the highest standards of integrity, excellence and customer service.  ESS continues to invest in facilities, equipment, education, and safety to provide a broad range of services to meet our clients’ varying needs.

Adapted from information available at: http://mvascientificconsultants.com/

 

Scientists Find Way to Convert CO2 Into Ethanol

CO2 to Ethanol

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have discovered a chemical reaction to turn CO2 into ethanol, potentially creating a new technology to help avert climate change. Their findings were published in the journal ChemistrySelect.

Researcher had hoped to convert carbon dioxide that had been dissolved in water to methanol, a chemical released naturally by volcanic gases and microbes, which can cause blindness in humans if ingested.

But instead of methanol, they discovered they had ethanol, a primary component of gin and also a potential fuel source. Surprised, the team realized that not only was their new material converting the carbon dioxide to ethanol, it needed very little outside support.

The material is a small chip–about a square centimeter in size–covered in spikes, each just a few atoms across. Each spike is constructed out of nitrogen with a carbon sheath and a small sphere of copper embedded in each tip. The chip is dipped into water and carbon dioxide is bubbled in. The copper acts as a small lightning rod, attracting electricity and driving the first steps of the conversion of the carbon dioxide and water into ethanol, before the molecules move to the carbon sheath to finish the process.

Read more about this exciting development in the full article from Popular Science.

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