ARB Simplifies Reports for Industrial Toxic Emissions
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO – In a move to cut costs and paperwork, the Air Resources Board has streamlined and simplified the manner in which industrial facilities report their airborne emissions of 700 toxic compounds.
The simplified rules require the most detailed reporting from the 200 industrial facilities that pose the greatest potential public risk. More than 20,000 business and government facilities with far lower emissions -- about 80 percent of the statewide total -- will save an estimated $14 million a year and most will replace up to 100 pages of reports with a two-page form that can be submitted to local air pollution officials by computer.
The streamlines procedures are designed to allow most businesses to complete their own inventories without the help of private consultants, who have accounted for a substantial portion of the rule's overall compliance costs.
"We are lowering the costs for most facilities by eliminating the need to provide duplicate information, while focusing our attention on the biggest sources of pollution that pose the greatest potential health risk," said Jananne Sharpless, ARB chairwoman. "We think that these revisions to the reporting requirements will lower overall costs and improve program efficiency without compromising public health protections."
The reports are required under the state's Air Toxics "Hotspots" programs, in which industrial facilities are required to report their use or emissions of over 700 toxic and potentially cancer-causing compounds. The information is used by local air pollution control districts to conduct health risk assessments on individual facilities, to determine whether or not additional pollution controls are needed.
Since the program began in 1989, about 4,100 industrial facilities that emit more than 25 tons per year of smog-forming pollutants, such as oil refineries, large manufacturers, chemical companies and power plants, have been required to file detailed inventories of these compounds. Another 1,500 facilities that emit between 10 and 25 tons per year, such as metal platers and casters began filing these reports in 1990. More than 17,000 facilities that emit less than 10 tons per year began to prepare these reports in 1991.
The new rules still require biennial updates to the reports, but only facilities which pose a significant risk must report major changes in their emission levels that have occurred since the last major report was submitted, eliminating the need to repeat basic information. Another procedural change only requires reports on emission changes in the previous year, instead of two. Also, in order to focus attention on the most significant potential health threat, operators of facilities that have been identified as significant risks will now be required to report only those emission points that account for 80 percent of the facility's risk, instead of reporting on every source.
High priority facilities, which have the greater potential to become significant risks, will only be required to update emission increases or industrial output if it varies by 10 percent from the previous inventory.
In one of the biggest changes to the reports, most facilities, which have little change in their emissions from year to year, could document that with a simple two-page form with seven questions, eliminating a series of up to four separate forms that typically included up to 100 pages.
In addition, many small businesses, such as gas stations and dry cleaners, which make up about 80 percent of this group, would use industry-wide emissions data supplied by local air pollution control districts. Another 3,500 operators of small facilities must still file individual inventory reports, but will be able to use the two-page summary in 1994, when they are scheduled to make their first update report. ARB officials estimate that those businesses will save about $4.5 million per year in reporting fees.
The requirement to publicly report this information has already resulted in lower emissions. The ARB estimates that businesses and industrial facilities have voluntarily reduced their emissions of these 700 compounds by 1.9 million pounds per year since the law went into effect.