DEP Proposes Limits On Industrial Solvent Cleaning Activities

by Pierce Atwood LLP
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Pierce Atwood LLP

Despite Maine’s attainment of the ozone standards, Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) control requirements keep coming. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed a new regulation, Chapter 166, that would further regulate industrial cleaning solvents. In short, Chapter 166 would apply to any source that emits (pre-control) 3 tons per year or more of VOCs from industrial cleaning activities.

The list of exemptions is extensive, leaving it difficult to determine what exactly may be covered. For example, most activities already subject to another VOC control regulation would be exempt, including:

  • Paper coating operations subject to Chapter 123
  • Lithographic and letterpress printing subject to Chapter 161
  • Flat wood paneling subject to Chapter 129
  • Parts cleaners subject to Chapter 130

Additional exemptions include:

  • Certain insignificant activities, including laboratory testing, janitorial activity, R&D activity, and any cleaning activity that uses 55 gallons or less of an industrial cleaning solvent in any 12 month period
  • Cleaning of electrical and electronic equipment
  • Cleaning of resin, coating, ink, and adhesive mixing, molding, and application equipment
  • Use of cleaning solvents in activities subject to a VOC reasonable available control technology (RACT) determination pursuant to Chapter 134

Activities subject to, and not exempt from, the regulation would be limited to 0.42 lbs. of VOC/gallon, a vapor pressure of 8.0 mmHg at 68F, or use of control device achieving 85% control efficiency.

DEP’s rulemaking notice states that Clean Air Act VOC RACT requirements are driving this regulation. However, VOC RACT is required only in ozone nonattainment areas and everywhere in the Ozone Transport Region (OTR). Maine achieves attainment with the current ozone standard and all four of the previous ozone standards. According to DEP, the science is overwhelming and irrefutable that VOC reductions from Maine sources would not help address remaining areas of ozone nonattainment outside Maine. Thus, the regulation does not address ozone nonattainment concerns. Instead, DEP appears to have initiated this rulemaking because Maine remains in the OTR.

A public hearing on the proposed regulation, Chapter 166, is scheduled for 1:00 pm on June 19, 2018.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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