Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson signed a rule August 15, 2012, tightening national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESH AP) for chromium plating and steel pickling under the Clean Air Act.

Specifically, the NESH AP amendments for hard and decorative chromium electroplating and chromium anodizing tanks (i) revise the emissions limits for total chromium, (ii) add “housekeeping requirements” to minimize fugitive emissions, and (iii) phase out the use of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid-based fume suppressants. The new rules also modify and add requirements for testing, monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting, and revise regulations applicable to emissions during periods of malfunction. EPA describes the rule as establishing “emissions limits and surface tension limits that are moderately lower than the limits in the current regulation for new and existing hard chromium electroplating, decorative chromium electroplating, and chromium anodizing sources.” EPA calculates that the revised rules will eliminate 224 pounds of emissions per year of chromium, described as “a known human carcinogen.” The preamble to the rule estimates annualized costs for this reduction at $2.38 million.  

The rule does not change emission limits for steel pickling hydrochloric acid (HC l) process facilities and hydrochloric acid regeneration plants, but it does eliminate an alternative compliance option that allowed existing HC l regeneration facilities to request approval for an alternative source-specific chlorine concentration standard from their permitting authority. The rule also extends the emission limits to apply during periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction. EPA estimates that the changes will reduce chlorine emissions by up to 30,000 pounds per year at an annualized cost up to about $30,000.