Environmental Specialist Rusty Jack has air permitting and environmental compliance experience in the manufacturing and… (Read More)
Do I Need an Air Permit?
Before going into the helpful tips, it is worth looking at whether your facility needs an air permit. Here is the GOOD NEWS… Lots of activities require no air permitting action whatsoever. For instance, most activities conducted on residential property are not required to obtain an air permit under most state and federal rules. More commercial/industrial activities, however, such as storage of large quantities of oil/vehicle fuel, may require an air operating permit or some other permitting action.
Typically, if a facility/operation burns something and/or stores or handles any organic or dusty materials, then it emits air pollutants and may require an air permit. An assessment based on type and quantity as well as other operating data would be needed to determine if an air permit is necessary. So, the short answer is MAYBE.
Once You Have Obtained a Permit
You have now determined you need an air permit. You have also gone through the trouble of compiling all the necessary information and submitting an air permit application. A couple of weeks to a few months later, your shiny, new air permit arrives. Now what? You can lovingly shove it under a pile on your desk, cross your fingers, and hope everything works out (not recommended). Or you can take a few practical steps to make sure your company does what it takes to comply with the permit.
Here are some basic tips for complying with your operating permit:
This seems intuitive enough, however, many of the problems that lead to non-compliance stem from a lack of understanding about what is required by the permit. Therefore, reading your permit and comprehending its contents are VITAL. A careful look at the permit may also uncover errors that will require the permitting agency to remedy. The simple step of reading your permit can help your company avoid compliance pitfalls.
A compliance plan or even simply jotting down notes from the permit can be very useful. Write down what is required such as emission limits, frequency of required testing/observations, recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Develop a simple strategy for complying with these requirements. Then communicate the strategy to the day-to-day personnel responsible for keeping up with the requirements. Which brings us to the next point:
Communication is key. As cliché as it sounds, keeping those in your company “in the know” about the air permit’s requirements, is essential for compliance with your facility’s permit(s). For example, say your permit requires that certain operating limits be in place. However, no one has read or communicated this to the group responsible for day-to-day operations. The operations group does not know what is needed, but if your operations are outside of the limit, your company will ultimately be responsible. As you can see, communication is extremely important.
Eventually, someone from the permitting agency will make a visit to your site to inspect your operations. You do not want to be the one fumbling around under that pile on your desk trying to find important documents. Keeping adequate records of required information on-hand can help you avoid potential penalties and make the inspection smoother.
There are several resources available to you as a member of the permitted community. Your permitting agency is your number one source for staying in compliance with your permit requirements. Permit writers, inspectors, and even the agency’s enforcement personnel are great sources of information. Working with consultants can also be an invaluable asset by having an experienced environmental specialist on your side. Finally, talking with your peers and getting involved in trade organizations can prove to be insightful as others have most certainly been in your shoes.
Whether you are determining your need for a permit or complying with your actual permit, there are multiple resources available to you. Utilizing those resources can be crucial for the success of your business and to avoid legal action and potentially hefty fines and penalties from the regulatory agency. In short, taking small steps today towards compliance can save you lots of time and money tomorrow.
For more information on how to comply with air permit requirements, or for assistance with your upcoming air permitting project, please contact us at (337) 237-2200 or visit our website at www.airqualitypermits.com.