EPA Rules Update Gives Information About Current and Future Regulations

June 1, 1998
An update on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations is not complete without information about rules in effect and those that are proposed,

An update on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations is not complete without information about rules in effect and those that are proposed, said Steven L Hensley, environmental specialist for the American Trucking Associations.

"When you first see regulations, they may not affect you right away, but somewhere down the road they will," he said. Hensley updated members of the National Tank Truck Carriers at the annual Tank Cleaning Council seminar conducted April 6-7 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The comment period on Phase II Stormwater Program (63 CFR 1536) ended April 9, 1998, is expected to be final by March 1999, and be fully effective by 2002. "There is good news and bad news," he said.

The proposed rule expands stormwater regulations to cities with populations of less than 100,000, said Hensley. EPA data indicate the smaller cities are discharging pollutants such as oil, grease, floatables, and sediment.

The small cities would decide how to comply with the EPA regulations and establish their own ordinances to apply to businesses. A city would take minimum measures to meet the stormwater rules by addressing the subject through public education and public involvement. The rules call for ending illicit sewer connections and construction site runoff. Post-construction stormwater management and pollution prevention in municipal operations are mandated. If they fail to meet the demands of the EPA, cities might have to meet more stringent requirements, which could include additional stormwater permits from both state and city.

At the same time, the rules would reach into small construction sites where they have not applied before. The EPA estimates that approximately 110,000 small construction sites contribute sediments from site erosion. When the stormwater regulation is implemented, businesses will be regulated by permit. "This means that facility improvements that disturb more than one acre of land will require a construction stormwater permit," he said. "EPA has proposed the no exposure certification for all stormwater program candidates, including phase one permitees."

If the proposal goes into effect, a company could complete a checklist certifying that industrial activities, such as washing, are conducted away from exposure to precipitation and runoff. Companies can then request an exempted stormwater certification. EPA estimates the waiver could apply to about 70,000 trucking facilities.

"This is going to be very hard, probably impossible, for tank washes," said Hensley. "It may be that none of the trucking industry will be able to qualify."

The ATA is asking the EPA to authorize an industrial stormwater permitted company to be covered for additional site construction. "We're hoping this will go into the final rule," he said.

New permit information from the EPA is not yet available and only one person in the EPA office is assigned to the project. "Currently, your facilities should either be under an extension of the baseline general permit or the original 1995 multi-sector general permit," he said.

Other issues include regulations applying to underground storage tanks and state funds available to offset a company's cleanup costs. "Three states have already closed their funds to new claims and seven will close them in 1998," he said. "Nineteen states prioritize reimbursement based on environmental risk or company size, and unpaid claims exceed fund revenues in eighteen states. There are millions of dollars of unpaid claims out there, and we aren't sure they will ever be paid."

The 1998 mandate to replace, upgrade, or close underground storage tanks constructed before 1988 will not be extended. "There will be no exceptions," said Hensley, noting that some ATA members can't get contractors for the work because they are too busy as a result of the deadline.

He said more information can be obtained about the underground tank regulation on the Internet at http://www.gov/OUST or by telephoning 1-800-424-9346.

Another EPA-related issue concerns plans to ban underground disposal wells that receive motor vehicle maintenance waste or function as large capacity cesspools.

They will be banned only in certain water protection areas when the areas are defined by the individual states. The definition is to be determined by May 2003.

Developed from the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996 and a lawsuit by the Sierra Club, the regulations require states to map out the areas and ban high-risk underground injection control wells.

Individual facilities must determine if their wells are within the location and if they are of the type to be closed. They will not receive a notice. All of this must occur at the facility's initiative and cost within 90 days of the state's determination of the areas. "You must close the well and remediate the area, if necessary. EPA also is considering other types of discharge wells in the ban," Hensley said.

Involved in EPA proposals is the issue of bottom-loading vapor recovery, one that would call for maximum achievable control technology. "Achievable means money is no object," said Cliff Harvison, NTTC president.

The manufacture and distribution of all organic chemicals, no matter what combinations, would fall under similar rules established for gasoline in the early 1970s regarding vapor emissions at loading and unloading. A further concern about the proposed regulation lies with vapor disposal at many different locations and types of businesses, and the liability therein.

"This is big time," said Harvison. "Make no mistake about it. A standard is being planned for 2000. Rarely does the EPA meet a deadline, but they are moving fast on this one. The EPA is going to follow through."

The NTTC is briefing industry on the proposed rule requirements and possible repercussions while at the same time educating EPA officials. "They thought all tank trailers had bottom-loading vapor recovery capability and can't understand why there is a problem with adapting the MC307," he said. "They didn't know that chemical trucks were cleaned."

Shippers and carriers must have uniformity in bottom-loading vapor recovery systems, he said. NTTC is joining forces with representatives from five carrier and five chemical companies to discuss arrangements that will have to be made.