Ten Steps to Avoid Air Fines

Bob Davis wrote an excellent article in the November 2009 issue of Pollution Engineering magazine. (Full disclosure: I write a column there every two months). It is called “10 steps to avoid air fines”. A few of his compliance tips (in italics) are worth repeating here followed by my own commentaries:

  • When it comes to ensuring compliance, make everyone responsible. Hallelujah! Make someone responsible for reviewing the air permit – or any permit for that matter. It is amazing how many people spend oodles of money getting a permit and then just file it away in the desk draw without reading it. It is critical that you read and understand the requirements of your own permit. Don’t wait for an inspector to review it for you.
  • Follow the EPA online and stay informed on regulatory actions. One good way to do that is to sign up for EPA (and state agency’s) mailing lists. They are FREE and will keep you posted on the latest regulatory requirements.
  • Quiz vendors on potential problems that could lead to trouble. If a vendor tells you his equipment is the best thing since sliced bread, tell him to back it up with full indemnification in writing. In other words, if his wonderful machine causes a violation, he pays your fine.
  • Practice vigilance when selecting a stack tester. That is excellent advice. Make sure the tester has good working relationship with the agency that will be reviewing the test results. Talk to the regulatory agency BEFORE hiring the tester. If the tester has a questionable reputation, the regulators will let you know in one way or another. They may not come right out and tell you. But you will sense it.
  • Get to know the inspectors and do not hesitate to ask them for guidance. That is good advice up to a point. If you have a good working relationship with your inspector, he/she will offer you guidance unofficially. Many agencies specifically prohibit their inspectors from offering consulting advice to the regulated communities. Do not count on your inspectors as your free consultants. Back to the first point – you need to know your own permit conditions.
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