WASHINGTON — Wood industry and biomass groups are cautiously lauding the Environmental Protection Agency’s revising of standards to reduce hazardous air pollutant emissions from existing and new boilers and commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators.
This boiler fire box at Elk Regional Health Center in St. Marys, PA burns woody biomass. The boiler runs year round providing heat, hot water and sterilization processes. Biomass quality is extremely important since varying wood types and moisture levels burn differently, and thus need to be managed in both the supply and combustion chains. The regional hospital’s replacement boiler system installed by Advanced Recycling Equipment is totally automated, very efficient (about a 1% ash residue), and has incredibly clean emissions producing no visible smoke and with no need for electrostatic precipitators as usually found on a power plant. The hospital saved almost $94,000 in just the first six months of its operation, buying $90,000 worth of wood chips locally. -Andy Bater, BiommassConnections.com Revisions in the new rules, released Friday, reduce the compliance costs for maximum achievable control technology (MACT) on the equipment — a point of contention in the April 2010 standard. The new standards are approximately 50 percent less costly than in the original proposal, while still meeting the requirements laid out in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, according to the EPA. Also critical in the revision, particularly for wood products firms, is the change in the definition of Non-Hazardous Secondary Material (NHSM). In the new standard, resinated wood is now designated as “not a solid waste material when used as a fuel regardless of whether it remained within the control of the generator.”
The EPA said it will finalize the reconsideration in spring 2012, following 60 days for public comment.
“Our nation’s economy needs regulations that protect the environment while sustaining American manufacturing jobs,” said Donna Harman, president and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Assn. “EPA’s reconsideration is an important step toward writing a more reasonable set of regulations after being forced by the courts to finalize rules in March, which the Agency itself recognized as flawed.”
EPA's revised changes for boilers include additional subcategories, new emission limits and increased flexibility in compliance monitoring for meeting particle pollution and carbon monoxide limits. The agency has also revised emission limits on incinerators, including those for dioxin and mercury.