EPA Issues Industrial Boiler Clean Air StandardsWASHINGTON – Industrial boiler air pollution rules were issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, concluding a two-year highly controversial process.

EPA also finalized rules for secondary waste materials from manufacturing, such as sawdust and wood chips, to be used as fuel. EPA says a process will determine which non-hazardous secondary materials would be considered solid waste, and would be restricted under rules intended for incinerators.

"This distinction would determine whether a material can be burned in a boiler or whether it must be burned in an incinerator," EPA says, and describes wood waste as a permissible fuel. Here is an excerpt:

Clean cellulosic biomass means those residuals that are akin to traditional cellulosic biomass such as forest-derived biomass (e.g., green wood, forest thinnings, clean and unadulterated bark, sawdust, trim, and tree harvesting residuals from logging and sawmill materials), corn stover and other biomass crops used specifically for energy production (e.g., energy cane, other fast growing grasses), bagasse and other crop residues (e.g., peanut shells), wood collected from forest fire clearance activities, trees and clean wood found in disaster debris, clean biomass from land clearing operations, and clean construction and demolition wood. These fuels are not secondary materials or solid wastes unless discarded. Clean biomass is biomass that does not contain contaminants at concentrations not normally associated with virgin biomass materials.

EPA says the rules will strongly affect 15,000 industrial boilers. Ninety-nine percent of the approximately 1.5 million boilers in the U.S. are either not covered or "can meet the new standards by conducting periodic maintenance or regular tune-ups," on industrial boilers according to a statement from EPA.

The rules set numerical emission limits for high emitting boilers and incinerators, which EPA says will provide industry with practical, cost-effective options to meet the standards. EPA, which also issued rules for cement kilns under a court order, (see http://www.epa.gov/airquality/cement), estimates the new standards will avoid 8,100 premature deaths and avert 52,000 asthma attacks annually once implemented.

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