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Article # 0012
General Overview of Air Permitting Requirements in the State of Texas (with Specific Guidance for Fiberglass Manufacturing Facilities)
by Karen M. Bullard, P.E.
The information given here is specific to the state of Texas and applies to facilities constructed anywhere in this state. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is the governmental agency that oversees the air permitting requirements in Texas. While the air permitting programs in other states are usually very similar, there is some variation in the requirements from state to state in the USA. This summary also provides specific guidance pertaining to fiberglass manufacturing facilities.
Types of Authorization
The primary regulation governing air pollution in the state of Texas is 30 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 116 – Control of Air Pollution by Permits for New Construction or Modification. This rule requires any facility that has the potential to emit air contaminants to obtain authorization prior to the start of construction. The types of authorization that may apply to a fiberglass manufacturing facility are:
1. Permit by Rule under 30 TAC Chapter 106.392 – Thermoset Resin Facilities, or
2. New air permit under Chapter 116
A Permit by Rule (PBR) restricts the production capacity more than an air permit. In general, the PBR limits the facility to a usage rate of 75 tons/yr of gelcoat and resin combined for spraying operations and 150 tons/yr of gelcoat and resin combined for non-spraying operations. The PBR also limits acetone usage to 5 tons/yr. The other alternative form of authorization is an air permit. If approved, the air permit can allow higher production rates than the PBR.
Timeline for Authorization Approval
After a registration application for a PBR is submitted to the TCEQ, it will generally take 30 to 45 days for the TCEQ to review the application and issue a letter of approval. The air permitting process can take from four to nine months to complete from the date of application submittal. After nine months, the TCEQ considers the project to be “backlogged” or “late” according to their internal policies. If a permit applicant is prompt in responding to any requests for information from the TCEQ, the permit is likely to be issued before this nine month “backlog” date.
These timelines can be expedited by providing a complete application at the time of submittal. In addition, if the proposal in the permit application or PBR meets the regulatory and policy guidelines of the TCEQ in all areas, it is likely to take less time to process. In some cases, state or local governmental officials can affect the processing time by expressing their interest in the project to the TCEQ for reasons such as economic benefit to the area in which the facility will be located.
Air Permit Application Review Process
There are several stages to the permit application review process that any application must pass through, regardless of its priority to the TCEQ. Generally, the absolute minimum time between submittal of the permit application and issuance of the final permit is a little less than four months.
The air permitting process generally proceeds as follows:
Application is submitted to TCEQ administrative review team
Application is reviewed for administrative completeness and public notice is approved by TCEQ
Permit applicant publishes public notice in local newspaper and posts signs at facility location. The public notice period is 30 days long. During this time the public can address its concerns about the facility to the TCEQ.
Concurrently with the public notice process, the permit application undergoes technical evaluation by an engineer at the TCEQ. The primary technical concerns are the implementation of required control technology and the potential health effects on the surrounding area
When the health effects, control technology, and other required application elements have been approved by the TCEQ, a draft permit is provided to the applicant and the TCEQ regional office for comments. The draft permit consists of operational and recordkeeping requirements for the facility, as well as a table stating the hourly and annual emission limits from each air emission source at the facility
The TCEQ regional office and the applicant comment on the draft permit and a final version is agreed upon. This final version is forwarded to the Executive Director of the TCEQ where the final document is issued.
Issues of Special Concern to Fiberglass Manufacturing Facilities:
The primary chemical of concern for a fiberglass manufacturing facility is styrene. Styrene is a very odorous chemical and, because of this, has a fairly low ESL. To obtain approval for the permit it is necessary to demonstrate that the proposed emissions are unlikely to exceed the ESL often, or by a great amount.
Preliminary modeling of the proposed emission rates from a fiberglass manufacturing facility helps to determine the ideal site location and the construction parameters (such as stack height and distance of source from nearest property line). In general, lower hourly emission rates of styrene, a further distance of the source from the property line, higher stacks, and higher capacity ventilation fans result in lower predicted off-property concentrations.
Karen M. Bullard, P.E. is an Engineering Partner and the President of Bullard Environmental Consulting, Inc. She has over 11 years experience in environmental engineering, compliance, and permitting. She worked for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for four years as an Air Permit Specialist in the Coatings and Combustion Section, where she developed a thorough understanding of the governmental procedures and policies in Texas. Karen has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
Karen M. Bullard, P.E. No. 88449
Final Edition Completed June 27, 2005 from Previously Composed Material
Article # 0012 TEST QUESTIONS:
1. What is the governmental agency that oversees the air permitting requirements in Texas?
Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC)
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
Texas Air Pollution Control Board (TAPCB)
Texas Air Quality Commission (TAQC)
2. What is the primary regulation governing air pollution in the state of Texas?
30 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 118 – Air Pollution Permits for New or Existing Construction.
30 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 117 – Air Pollution Control for Industrial Polluters.
30 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 116 – Control of Air Pollution by Permits for New Construction or Modification.
30 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 115 – Control of Industrial Air Pollution by Permit.
3. What can be done to expedite the approval timeline ?
Having a government official express their interest in the project.
Submitting a proposal that meets all TCEQ regulatory and policy guidelines.
Providing a complete application at the time of submittal
All of the above
4. In what way does a Permit by Rule (PBR) differ from an air permit?
A PBR is more restrictive than an air permit
A PBR is less restrictive than an air permit
A PBR is issued automatically while an air permit must be reviewed by the TCEQ
A air permit is only issued 9 months after the initial application while a PBR is issued "upon request".
5. What is the primary chemical of concern for a fiberglass manufacturing facility?
6. Which of the following is not part of the permit application review process?
A technical evaluation by a TCEQ engineer.
A public notice process of 30 days.
A review of the application for administrative completeness.
A background check on the owner/operator of the facility.
7. What is generally the minimum time between the submittal of a permit application and the issuance of a final permit?
A little less than four years.
A little less than four months.
A little more than nine months.
8. Add-on control is required for fiberglass and surface coating facilities at what level of total emissions of volatile organic compounds and acetone ?
9. A draft permit includes which of the following?
Record keeping requirements for the facility
A listing of authorized personnel and emergency contact information
The Swiss bank account number for and minimum amount of any required bribes.
None of the above.
10. Generally, which of the following will result in lower predicted off-property concentrations?
Lower hourly emission rates
Lower capacity ventilation fans.
a. and c.
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