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EPA Proposes Updates to Air Toxics and Performance Standards For Lead Acid Battery Plants

March 7, 2022

On Feb. 11, EPA proposed updates to both the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) that apply to Lead Acid Battery (LAB) Manufacturing Area Sources (Subpart PPPPPP) and the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for LAB Manufacturing Plants (Subpart KK). Also, EPA proposed to add a new NSPS (Subpart KKa), which will cover new, reconstructed, or area LAB sources. The proposed updates are more stringent than existing requirements and apply to any LAB plant that produces lead acid batteries and their processes and lead reclamation.

As part of this action, EPA is proposing to:

  • Remove compliance exemptions and enforcement affirmative defenses for periods of startup, shut down, and malfunctions (SSM).
  • Revise lead emission limits for grid casting and lead reclamation operations in both the NESHAP and the new NSPS (Subpart KKa).
  • Revise lead emission limits for paste mixing at LAB facilities with the capacity to process in one day at least 150 tons of lead in both the NESHAP and the new NSPS.
  • Revise the definition of “lead reclamation facility” to exclude recycling of any type of finished battery and recycling of lead-bearing scrap.
  • Require compliance testing once per 5-year period.
  • Establish work practices to minimize fugitive lead dust emissions.
  • Require bag leak detection systems for facilities with at least 150 tons per day lead processing capacity.
  • Increase inspection of certain fabric filter systems.
  • Add electronic reporting.

Importantly, the removal of the SSM exemptions from NSPS Subpart KK (and proposing NSPS Subpart KKa without any SSM exemptions) and proposal of more specific SSM provisions, will override the NSPS general provisions in Subpart A. The proposed changes will ensure that emissions and opacity limits will always apply, including during SSM conditions. In addition, the SSM exemptions have been removed from the NESHAP and EPA has specifically requested comments on whether or not it has successfully eliminated all inappropriate, unnecessary, or redundant provisions that may reference the SSM exemptions.

LAB facilities should review EPA’s proposed updates to ensure that they can comply before the rule becomes final. Now is the time to make comments on the proposed rulemaking. Please contact a Clark Hill Environmental & Natural Resources attorney with any questions on your NSPS and NESHAP requirements and any potential impacts on your business or issues in complying with these programs.

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