EPA Proposes More Stringent Standards On Air Toxics From Secondary Lead Smelters

A proposed rule the Environmental Protection Agency released May 2 on air toxics emissions from secondary lead smelters would reduce lead and arsenic from the facilities by 63 percent, according to the agency.

EPA's proposed revisions would set more stringent national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants from the smelting operations, updating the standards originally set in 1997 (62 Fed. Reg. 32,216).

The proposed rule, which would revise 40 C.F.R. Part 63, will be published in the Federal Register.

The revised standards would apply to all facilities that use furnaces to recover lead from scrap, mainly automobile batteries. Fewer than 20 secondary lead smelters are currently in operation, according to EPA.

The proposed rule would require secondary lead smelters to enclose all operations within a building with a venting system to ensure concentrations of lead stay below 0.15 microgram per cubic meter. The proposed rule would also set a lead emissions limit of 0.2 milligram per dry standard cubic meter, 10 times lower than the current standard, and require the facilities to control emissions of dioxins.

Many of the affected facilities already have the required controls, EPA said.

The proposed rule would complete EPA's required residual risk and technology review for secondary lead smelting.

Sections 112(d)(6) and 112(f)(2) of the Clean Air Act require EPA to review the emissions limits for various industrial source categories every eight years, taking into account newly available technology. The agency must either promulgate additional standards to protect public health from any residual risk or make an official determination that no further emissions controls are necessary.

EPA estimates the proposed rule would cost affected facilities $48 million in new controls and $12.6 million in annual operation costs. Many of the facilities already have the required controls in place, EPA said. The proposed rule is expected to reduce emissions of fine particulate matter (PM-2.5)--particles 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller--by 48 tons to 76 tons per year.

EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule for 45 days after it is published in the Federal Register. Comment can be made at http://www.regulations.gov and should reference docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2011-0344.

By Andrew Childers

EPA's proposed revisions to the national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants for secondarylead smelting and a related fact sheet are available at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/new.html.

For more information, contact Chuck French in EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at (919) 541-7912 or french.chuck@epa.gov.