Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
State regulators and industry groups say they are concerned by the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to craft guidance for assessing vapor intrusion at petroleum-contaminated sites that is more conservative than a version the agency previously indicated it would publish.
The concerns center on the depth of soil that is needed to cover underground storage tanks and delineation of a lateral inclusion zone, Robin Davis, an environmental scientist with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, told BNA Dec. 4.
A lateral inclusion zone is the area surrounding a mass of underground contamination through which petroleum vapors may travel, intrude into buildings, and potentially threaten human health and the environment, according to EPA.
Bruce Bauman, an environmental scientist with the American Petroleum Institute, said in a Dec. 5 email, “I think it is pretty clear” that industry was not pleased with EPA's decision to “somewhat arbitrarily increase” the clean soil screening depth from 15 feet to 30 feet.
The criticism is over draft guidance that was sent in mid-November to members of a work group convened by EPA as the agency tries to complete guidance on vapor intrusion at petroleum sites and a broader guidance document addressing vapor intrusion from other types of contamination.
EPA did not respond to the criticism when asked for comment.
EPA continues to work towards the release of final guidance for assessing and mitigating the vapor intrusion pathway, the agency said in a Dec. 4 email to BNA. Upon release, the guidance will supersede and replace EPA's 2002 Draft Guidance for Evaluating the Vapor Intrusion to Indoor Air Pathway from Groundwater and Soils.
Davis was a member of an EPA advisory work group that in March approved a version of the petroleum guidance that, according to Davis, EPA suggested it intended to publish as final guidance. Later, EPA changed the document, and a version dated Oct. 18 and obtained by BNA shows the new language on the soil depth and lateral inclusion zone.
Davis called the changes “overprescriptive and overconservative” and said they “went against the recommendations of the workgroup.”
The workgroup had concluded that 15 feet of clean soil would be adequate to address vapors associated with light non-aqueous phase liquids, such as gasoline and fuel oil, Davis said.
“EPA then wanted to add another 15 feet of soil to make it 30 feet to account for uncertainties associated with” light non-aqueous phase liquids, such as gasoline and fuel oils, Davis said. A database compiled by an EPA contractor, however, already accounts for these uncertainties, she said.
Regulators and other members of the workgroup also are concerned about a chapter in the draft guidance on how to delineate the lateral inclusion zone, Davis said.
“The chapter is complicated even for scientists and engineers,” she said. “It should be up to the regulators to determine the lateral extent--leave it to our professional judgment.”
Overly conservative guidance, she said, will result in a “waste of money” and no added health benefits at a time when state resources are very limited and some states' petroleum insurance funds are bankrupt.
Because of the concern, EPA in mid-November sent the Oct. 18 draft petroleum guidance, along with the broader guidance dated Nov. 7, to members of the workgroup for comment, Davis said.
EPA had been striving to release both sets of guidance by Nov. 30, but in October an agency official told a public meeting that he hoped it would be “months, not years” before the guidance was issued (202 DER A-17, 10/19/12).
Davis estimated that both sets of guidance would now be released in the spring of 2013.
“Based on what I've seen of the [petroleum vapor intrusion] document, it seems to make sense for EPA to put it out for public comment beyond the limited group that now seems to be reviewing it,” Christopher Roe, an attorney with Fox Rothschild, told BNA Dec. 4.
Bauman agreed, saying, “it would have been far more productive for EPA to publish draft guidance for formal public comment.”
“Hopefully, EPA will provide sufficient documentation of the science behind their reasoning” for making the changes it did and “allow stakeholders to assess that reasoning and offer technical justifications as to why the original 15 feet guidance was correct,” he said.
In its statement to BNA, EPA said it has made “substantial progress during the past year in preparing the final guidance for the vapor intrusion pathway, including considering and addressing extensive and substantive public comments received in 2011 and 2012.”
By Pat Ware
The petroleum vapor intrusion draft guidance is http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=jsun-92pu9t.
The broader vapor intrusion draft guidance is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=jsun-92pu8s.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)