ILTA Facilitates Rollout Event for EPA Administrator to Announce New Inspection Rule
ILTA facilitated and participated in a rollout event in Pittsburgh on October 7, at which Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced EPA’s new proposed in-service tank inspection rule.
The event was held at a terminal facility outside Pittsburgh, where the administrator and ILTA President Kathryn Clay were given a tour of the site’s operations, blending facilities and storage tanks. The Administrator then met briefly with the terminal owners and Clay to discuss the benefits of the new rule, which he said would relieve the regulatory burden on the liquid terminals industry during the ongoing pandemic and beyond.
The new proposed rule would amend Clean Air Act regulations and offer flexibility for more than 3,500 storage vessels to conduct “in-service” rather than out-of-service inspections. EPA estimates that the proposal could save $768,000 to $1.1 million in regulatory costs annually and reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds by as much as 83 tons per year.
The proposal would allow owner/operators of certain large tanks known as Volatile Organic Liquid Storage Vessels, regulated under the New Source Performance Standards Subpart Kb, to conduct less cumbersome “in-service” inspections of the tanks, without emptying and degassing the storage tank. Specially, the proposal would allow compliance with NESHAP WW in lieu of compliance with NSPS Kb for storage tank inspection.
EPA, in a press release, noted that the current inspection method is expensive, labor intensive, and results in volatile organic compound air emissions and other pollutants from venting and flaring. The proposed amendments will both reduce burdens for businesses and reduce emissions. EPA also noted that since 2018, it has received more than 300 requests from facilities seeking permission to conduct roof-top, also known as in-service, inspections to demonstrate compliance with a 1987 Clean Air Act regulation. “These one-off requests are time consuming and burdensome for both tank owners and operators and for EPA,” the agency said in the statement. “Further, EPA understands that in recent months inspecting these large tanks from the inside has become more challenging because there is a significant increase in the need for liquid storage capacity (particularly crude and petroleum products), due to slower consumer demand.”
ILTA advocated extensively and over many months for this change. EPA, recognizing ILTA’s role, included a quote by Clay in its nationally issued press release: “The EPA rule announced today is a common-sense solution that will lower emissions, ensure safety and provide operators with increased regulatory flexibility. By allowing greater use of a well-established, safe and effective inspection method, this new policy is a meaningful contribution to our shared goal of environmentally responsible facility management,” said ITLA President Kathryn Clay. “ILTA and its members appreciate EPA’s efforts to address an issue that became especially challenging in recent months due to the pandemic-related imbalances in petroleum and fuels markets that constrained the storage sector.”
ILTA also issued its own press release and posted widely on social media.
EPA, in a Federal Register notice, said it would accept public comments on the tank inspection proposal until November 30. ILTA, together with allied trade associations, including the American Petroleum Institute and the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, intend to file comments on the proposal.