November 16, 2017
Early last week, Cornell Pro-Dairy staffers Karl Czymmek and Curt Gooch spoke with the legal counsel of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) regarding U.S. EPA’s air emissions reporting deadline. A lot of concerns are “up in the air” on all sides about who must report ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions from livestock and poultry farms, the complexity of reporting forms and when they’re to be filed.
Since it involves the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as Superfund, such a filing might result in unannounced police and/or fire department responses. U.S. EPA has filed a motion requesting extension of a federal court stay on its mandate to end the 2008 exemption, which will trigger the reporting requirement. Specifically, the court asked for the Nov. 15 deadline to be extended at least through Jan. 17 to give EPA a chance to submit its interpretation that EPCRA 304 reporting isn’t necessary to its rule-making process.
The extension would also give the agency time to refine or simplify the CERCLA reporting form. That would also give farms time to understand reporting requirements.
Now this from EPA: “Farms with continuous releases must submit their initial continuous release notification starting on November 15, 2017. Due to the potential for large call volumes to the National Response Center (NRC), we are establishing an email option for initial continuous release notifications. The system should be available by November 15, 2017. Farm owners/operators may use the email option once it is available, rather than calling the NRC. This expedited option will allow one email notification for owners/operators with multiple farms.”
NMPF indicates that this action is unrelated to the deadline extension request that is under legal review.
That’s why NMPF recommends that farms not call NRC at least until Nov. 15 and, then only if the court doesn’t extend the deadline. Some U.S. dairy farms reportedly received unannounced responses by police and/or fire departments.
What to do
Czymmek and Gooch advise discussing an approach with legal counsel and consider using an estimation tool when the time comes. EPA has indicated that a good faith estimate of emissions includes the use of a range of methods or tools.
EPA has provided, and NMPF supports, using the emissions estimation factors for ammonia and hydrogen sulfide found on the last page of the document at the Dairy Operation — Continuous Release Report Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
Using the high daily emissions factor from the link above, it would take 1,428 cows to trigger the 100 pounds of ammonia threshold, say Czymmek and Gooch. The advantage of the document is ease of use (one high and low threshold factor for total herd count). It also includes an emissions factor for hydrogen sulfide.
Depending on farm goals and risk assessment, consider estimating ammonia emissions by using the University of Nebraska worksheet (also provided on the EPA website), or the Pro-Dairy dairy specific ammonia worksheet based on the Nebraska tool.
“When we last visited the hydrogen sulfide emissions topic in 2009,” notes Czymmek, “we concluded it would take several thousand cows to trigger the 100 pound daily emission threshold. As a result, in any situation we can imagine, ammonia emissions should trigger the reporting threshold well before hydrogen sulfide.”
Source: Cornell Pro-Dairy
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