Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
BREDL Clean Air

BREDL Comments on DRAFT permit for APAC Tennessee Asphalt Plant in Murphy, NC

January 22, 2001

NC Division of Air Quality Public Hearing
DRAFT Permit No. 08976R00
APAC Tennessee, Inc., Murphy, NC
Site No. 1/20/00123

Comments of Louis Zeller

I recommend that the Division of Air Quality deny this permit to APAC Tennessee. I have read the draft permit, the DAQ Air Permit Review, and the Permit Application submitted by ENSR Consulting and Engineering. It seems like the omissions in the draft permit may exceed the emissions from the smokestack.

The Division of Air Quality continues to use inappropriate methods of quantifying emissions of air pollutants from asphalt plants. The computer software is not the problem. At fault are the underlying assumptions about weather data and emissions points, and the continued reliance on regulatory loopholes which allow huge amounts of pollution to be left out of the total. Also, the unique characteristics of local topography and microclimates, which are well known to people living in the mountains, are completely unaddressed by any pollution model.

The asphalt plant draft permit contains flaws which omit significant sources of air pollution. Some of these omissions are stated in the draft permit. For example,

  • The asphalt plant dryer would be permitted to use either Number 2 Fuel Oil with 0.5% sulfur or Number 4 Fuel Oil which contains 2.1% sulfur by weight. However, the draft permit does not stipulate whether fuel oil with 0.5% or 2.1% sulfur may be used in the cement heater or the electric generator. The DAQ’s predictions of compliance with state and federal laws is based on specific fuel oil use in each heating unit. Under this permit the owner/operator would decide which fuel to use. The draft permit requires recordkeeping for annual asphalt production, annual electric generator use, and vendor certification of fuel oil content. Sulfur dioxide emissions would not be adequately controlled and the permit is unenforceable as written.

  • The asphalt tank heater is exempt from permitting under state rule 2Q .0102 because it is deemed an “insignificant source” of pollution. This 1.38 million BTU/hour heater would use over 19,000 gallons of fuel per year. The heater is a known source of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and toxic air pollutants.

  • A fuel oil storage tank, though not a combustion source, is known to emit sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds. However, it is also exempt under state rule 2Q .0102.

The DAQ’s Air Permit Review calculates the facility wide Toxic Air Pollutants; however, the analysis was done “excluding the diesel generator and asphalt hot oil heater emissions per DAQ policy.”

The Review fails to explain its reasoning in the calculation of pollution control efficiency. Compliance is questionable because the bag house filter’s rated efficiency is lower than that required to meet hourly emission rates (under New Source Performance Standards). To rely on testing after the plant is in operation, as stated in the Review, would permit a predictable exceedence of the pollution standard. This is an unacceptable method of determining compliance.

Finally, the draft permit and supporting documents contain no investigation of the APAC Tennessee’s compliance record. The DAQ relies almost exclusively on owner/operator recordkkeeping and reporting to ensure compliance with the law. Therefore, air pollution permittees must be shown to be reliable and trustworthy before they are allowed to operate dangerous machinery. I submit a recent Notice of Violation issued January 11, 2001 to APAC . The offense was issued for “the emissions of fumes and odors” from their hot mix asphalt plant in Salisbury, North Carolina.

I plan top submit additional comments before the close of the comment period. Also, I request that the Division of Air Quality extend the period for public comment to allow complete assessment of this permit.

Asphalt Plants