Q: I plan to buy a small
manufacturing business in Ohio. Do I need an air permit?
If you will be using manufacturing
equipment, your business must comply with certain environmental regulations. In
particular, air pollution regulations are closely monitored and enforced, so
you should understand these regulations and obtain any appropriate permits.
Ohio EPA may be willing to guide you in this process, but if you aren’t sure
about your permitting status, consult an attorney.
Q: When does Ohio require
A: Ohio usually requires a “permit to
install and operate” (PTIO) before air pollution sources are installed. An air
pollution “source” may be anything from an industrial furnace stack to a paint
booth, or even a gravel roadway that creates dust.
Q: Are there any
exceptions to air permitting requirements?
There is an exception for very small (“de minimis”) sources of air pollution
that have the potential to emit no more than 10 pounds of any
individual pollutant in a 24-hour period of continuous operation. This
exception also applies to sources that would emit more than 10 pounds if operated continuously for 24 hours, but
never do so in normal operations, but the operator must keep records showing
that the 10-pound threshold is never exceeded.
Q: Our pollution sources
are small, but may not qualify under the “de minimis” source requirements.
Might any other exceptions apply to us?
If you don’t think you are a “de minimis” source, you still may be on Ohio
EPA’s list of 45 types of sources that can receive “permanent exemptions” from
air permitting. Some common sources that do not require permits include certain
small boilers, tumblers, bakery ovens, laboratory equipment, small storage
tanks and inkjet printers.
EPA has created “permits by rule” that exempt other types of small sources from
having to obtain a PTIO, so long as they follow some basic notification and
recordkeeping requirements. Such sources include certain types of auto body
shops, gas stations, boilers/heaters fired by natural gas, printing facilities,
emergency generators, compressors and water pumps, resin compression/injection
molding, crushing/screening operations and soil remediation activities. Rather
than getting permits for these sources, your company must follow certain
also provides less complicated “general permit” PTIOs for other small sources.
Your business must still need submit an application and obtain a permit, but
the permit doesn’t take long to get, and is essentially already written.
Sources requiring general air permits include certain aggregate processing,
certain boilers, diesel engines, digester operations, drycleaning operations,
mineral extraction, metal parts painting lines, ready-mix concrete batch
plants, storage piles, and paved and unpaved roadways and parking areas.
Q: What if our business
doesn’t fall into any of the “small source” categories?
your facility has relatively minor sources of air pollution, but does not fall
into one of the above categories, you must get a standard PTIO from Ohio EPA.
You can get a form through the Ohio EPA’s website (www.epa.ohio.gov), and you
can probably get assistance with your application from the Ohio EPA. If your
company has larger sources of air pollution, you may need to get a federal
permit under the New Source Review and Title V permitting programs. (Visit www.epa.gov/region05/air/permits/index.html
for more information.)
Q: What should I do if an
Ohio EPA inspector visits my facility?
A: You should prepare for unannounced
inspections if you have environmental permits. To properly prepare, designate
someone from your facility who understands the company’s operations and
environmental issues to accompany the inspectors, explain the facility’s layout
and operation, and to serve as the Ohio EPA contact person.
inspectors arrive, you should find out: 1) contact information and title for
each inspector; 2) what prompted the investigation (whether a complaint, a
specific event or a routine inspection); and 3) what procedures will be
followed during the inspection (areas to be inspected, records to be reviewed,
samples to be taken). If there is any indication that the inspection may be
part of a criminal investigation, contact legal counsel immediately.
inspection, stay with the inspectors and take notes of the inspector actions
and questions. If samples are taken, note the collection process and get split
samples. If an inspector takes photos, do the same. Answer questions fully, but
do not speculate or volunteer information.
inspection, ask for an exit interview. Try to learn if the inspector observed
any deficiencies requiring follow up. Finally, document all inspection events
and conversations in a written report, and identify all documents shared with
the inspectors. Following these steps will minimize your risk of liability and
help you respond to any further agency action.
This “Law You Can Use”
column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by
Cincinnati attorney Thaddeus H. Driscoll of Frost Brown Todd LLC. Articles
appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information
about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem,
readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.
Labels: air pollution, environmental regulations, manufacturing, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency