Ashland-Huntington Area Meets Fine Particle Standards for Air Quality

Air quality is officially better in the Ashland-Huntington area, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA announced that it has approved the tri-state area in eastern Kentucky to be re-designated to “attainment” for fine particle pollution, effective today, after monitors showed significant improvement in air quality.

“Kentuckians in the Ashland area are breathing easier, thanks to a strong
partnership between state and local governments, businesses and industry,” said
Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) Secretary Len Peters. “Re-designation to
attainment also benefits Continue reading “Ashland-Huntington Area Meets Fine Particle Standards for Air Quality”

EPA Issues New, Tighter Standard for Fine Particle Pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized an update to its national air quality standards for fine particle pollution – also known as “PM 2.5” – setting the annual health-based standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter.  EPA issued the new standard on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.  The existing daily standards for both fine particles and for coarse particles (PM10) remain unchanged.

Fine particle pollution can penetrate deep into the lungs and has been linked to a wide range of serious health effects, particularly among children and the elderly.  A federal court ruling required EPA to update the standard based on the best available science.  Ninety-nine percent of all U.S. counties are projected to meet the standard without any additional action, according to EPA.

How will Kentucky be affected by the new rule?  “It all depends on our air monitoring data”, said Division for Air Quality (DAQ) director John Lyons.  Counties not meeting the new standard may be designated as “nonattainment” based on a three-year average of air monitoring data of PM2.5.  The current three-year average (2009-2011) indicates monitors in Bullitt, Daviess, and Jefferson counties are Continue reading “EPA Issues New, Tighter Standard for Fine Particle Pollution”

Maxey Flats Project Entering Final Closure Period

The Environmental Protection Agency recently notified the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection that the Maxey Flats Project has been approved to enter the Final Closure Period. The Maxey Flats Project is an inactive low-level radioactive waste landfill located in Fleming County, Ky., where approximately 4.7 million cubic feet of low-level radioactive waste was buried from 1963-1977.

Earlier this year the department made the determination that natural stabilization is substantially complete. EPA agreed stating, “The benefits of proceeding with final closure are greater than the benefits of waiting for any fractional settlement that might be achieved by not installing the cap for several more decades.” Natural stabilization was the remediation plan approved by the EPA in the 1991 Record of Decision. Natural processes have consolidated the waste in trenches since waste deposition ceased. With subsidence substantially complete, the final cap can be installed to maximize Continue reading “Maxey Flats Project Entering Final Closure Period”

Floyds Fork Technical Advisory Committee to Meet Nov. 28

The next meeting of the Floyds Fork Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will take place Wed., Nov. 28, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the offices of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) located at 9818 Bluegrass Parkway in Louisville.

The committee is a component of the joint effort by the Kentucky Division of Water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and stakeholders to improve water quality in the Floyds Fork watershed. The committee is composed of technical representatives from the major stakeholder groups within the Floyds Fork Watershed. The group was created to address high-level technical concepts regarding the development of nutrient total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for Floyds Fork.

Meeting topics will include development of the Floyd’s Fork bacteria TMDL, results of DOW’s monitoring efforts in the watershed, scenarios to be used in nutrient TMDL development and discussion of subcommittee topics.

“Total maximum daily load” is a term used to describe the amount of pollution a stream can receive and still meet water quality standards. TMDLs are currently under development for Floyds Fork for the Continue reading “Floyds Fork Technical Advisory Committee to Meet Nov. 28”

Public Hearing Held at Division for Air Quality

On Nov. 14, 2012 a public hearing was held at the Kentucky Division for Air Quality to receive public comment regarding the establishment of appropriate Title V air emissions fees for Fiscal Year 2013. These fees are a vital source of funding to the state air permit program in accordance with regulation, 401 KAR 50:038, Air emissions fee.

Every year, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines the minimum cost per ton of pollutant (based on the consumer price index) that an agency should charge to fund the Title V permitting program.  The minimum cost per ton established by EPA is $46.73.

This fiscal year, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality has projected a cost per ton of $48.91 will be necessary to fully fund its program.  This fee increase is necessary to cover all reasonable costs of administering Kentucky’s air permitting program.  Although this is $2.18 above the EPA minimum, it is less than the $52.87 cost per ton charged last year.  The proposed fee increase does not affect sources that emit less than Continue reading “Public Hearing Held at Division for Air Quality”

How Does the Clean Air Act Work?

The Clean Air Act establishes health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six categories of pollutants, known as “criteria pollutants”: sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Lead (Pb), and Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5). Each of the NAAQS sets an upper limit for a criteria pollutant in the ambient, or outdoor, air.  States use air monitoring to demonstrate whether the air meets those standards.  The current standards can be seen here.

The Clean Air Act requires the NAAQS to be reviewed every five years and revised if necessary.   During the review, EPA examines the latest peer-reviewed science to determine whether the standard needs to be strengthened to protect public health.

When a new standard is set, states have one year to recommend to EPA which areas are likely to meet the new standard (“attainment”) and which areas are not (“nonattainment”).  The Division for Air Quality (DAQ) considers a range of factors when making attainment designation recommendations for Kentucky, including: Continue reading “How Does the Clean Air Act Work?”

KPDES Facilities Get Ready for NetDMR

In the age of the Internet, it’s no surprise that the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mapped out a nationwide plan to move to electronic reporting for NPDES facilities. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program permits wastewater discharges as required under the Clean Water Act. In Kentucky, the Division of Water (DOW) is responsible for administering the KPDES program.  An essential part of any KPDES permit is the Discharge Monitoring Report or DMR. DMRs are a self-reporting tool that helps determine compliance with permit conditions and assess the quality of the wastewater discharge. This DMR data is housed in the EPA’s Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS) and available to the public via the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO).

With the EPA’s announcement that regulations would be developed requiring transition to an electronic reporting system for DMRs in early 2014, Kentucky was quick to take action. Now fully deployed for NetDMR, the national EPA tool for electronic reporting, Kentucky is actively notifying and educating facilities on the use of the new system. DOW anticipates having 100 percent of KPDES facilities transitioned by mid-2014. With more than 10,000 facilities currently permitted, this is no small task for DOW.  A combination of online tools, classroom training and working through the trade associations are being Continue reading “KPDES Facilities Get Ready for NetDMR”

KYDEP Seeks Design Contractor for Maxey Flats Project

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection initiated a Request for Proposal with the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet to contract with an engineering firm to design the final cap for the Maxey Flats Project. The project is located in northeastern Kentucky in Fleming County, approximately 10 miles northwest of the city of Morehead.

The Maxey Flats Project is a low-level radioactive waste landfill that is currently under an interim cap of approximately 55 acres. The Commonwealth of Kentucky owns the facility and long-term responsibility. Working with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department for Environmental Protection must be approved to enter the Final Closure Period for the project before work can begin.

The department, in cooperation with the Kentucky Division of Waste Management, will utilize the Commonwealth’s procurement process to select the winning firm, tentatively by January 2013.

Firms interested in considering the opportunity are encouraged to review the solicitation and associated documents online. Go to Continue reading “KYDEP Seeks Design Contractor for Maxey Flats Project”

Kentucky Receives Grant from the EPA for Revolving Loan Fund

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded three brownfield grants to Kentucky totaling $1.9 million to fund the assessment and cleanup of properties with environmental problems. One of the grants was provided to the Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Program.

As a result of this $850,000 award, the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (DEP) will have funding available for the first time to establish a brownfield redevelopment revolving loan fund. Continue reading “Kentucky Receives Grant from the EPA for Revolving Loan Fund”

Kentucky Division of Water and EPA to Discuss Pollution Control Plan

The Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 will conduct a public meeting Tuesday, July 24, to discuss the pollution control plan for the Floyds Fork watershed.

The meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. EDT in the cafeteria of Middletown Elementary School, 218 North Madison Avenue, Louisville.

The DOW will present information about the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development process including monitoring, TMDL model development, formation of a technical subcommittee and stakeholder involvement. DOW also will provide an update on the Floyds Fork bacteria TMDL.  Continue reading “Kentucky Division of Water and EPA to Discuss Pollution Control Plan”