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Indiana Biomass and Industrial Process Waste Facility Registration Rules Proposed

07.09.2012

The Indiana Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB) has preliminarily adopted a pair of rules that require certain biomass and industrial facilities to obtain registrations. 

Biomass Facility Registration

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) proposed a new rule requiring registration of biomass anaerobic digestion facilities and biomass gasification facilities.  The proposed new rule will add definitions of "biomass," "biomass anaerobic digestion facility," and "biomass gasification facility," as well as requirements that a person cannot construct or expand a biomass anaerobic digestion facility or a biomass gasification facility without first obtaining prior approval from IDEM.  Other requirements address operation, closure, and financial assurance.  A facility registration will last for five years.

The proposed new rule is the result of several companies approaching IDEM in 2008 with interest in developing biomass anaerobic digesters or biomass gasifiers to process specific waste streams and recover methane or ethanol. Currently, such an operation may fit under a variety of environmental permitting programs depending upon the specific facility circumstances. For example, a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) or a confined feeding operation (CFO) could propose to construct and operate such a facility on the same property permitted under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program or CFO approval program and incorporate the operation of the facility into the NPDES permit or CFO approval. The same facility proposed at an off-site location that accepted manure from multiple farms would not be a CAFO or CFO and instead would be required to obtain either a solid waste processing facility permit or an exemption from the solid waste processing facility rules under 329 IAC 11-3-1(13) as a solid waste management activity that does not pose a threat to human health or the environment. 

Exclusions from the proposed registration rule include:

  • certain facilities holding a valid permit to treat, process, store, or dispose of solid or hazardous wastes;
  • a publicly owned treatment works or an industrial treatment works that has a NPDES permit to discharge and does not store solid waste;
  • processing, except for digestion or gasification, of uncontaminated and untreated natural growth including saw dust, tree limbs, stumps, leaves, and grass clippings;
  • permitted hazardous waste facilities that are not required to obtain permits for the storage, treatment, or disposal of nonhazardous solid waste where such solid waste is treated or disposed of as a hazardous waste at the receiving hazardous waste facility;
  • wastewater discharge activities otherwise regulated by industrial wastewater pretreatment programs and NPDES permits; and
  • a biomass anaerobic digestion facility or a biomass gasification facility that is a waste management system located at a CAFO or a CFO, provided the facility otherwise complies with the proposed new rule.

Industrial Process Waste Facility Registration

IDEM also has developed a proposed rule concerning registration for facilities that use industrial process waste or commercial solid waste as an alternative fuel source.  "Alternative fuel" means a segregated solid waste that is industrial process waste or commercial solid waste, such as manufactured wood waste, paper, plastic, tires, rubber, carpet, oil filter fluff, cosmetics, or corn seeds, where each waste stream has a minimum fuel value of 5,000 BTUs per pound at the time the waste is introduced into the fuel combustion chamber.  The rule, if adopted, would apply to a facility that burns up to 30% by weight of total fuel feed industrial process wastes or commercial solid wastes having a minimum fuel value of 5,000 BTUs per pound.  Registration of such facilities would be required if the facility accepts waste from off-site and either stores or processes the waste as an alternative fuel source.  The proposed new rule imposes requirements regarding construction, operation, closure, and financial assurance.  A registration lasts for five years. 

The proposed new rule at 329 IAC 11.7 was the result of IDEM being contacted regarding the burning of solid waste streams as an alternative fuel to offset the burning of coal.  Under the current solid waste rules, such activity would either have to be regulated as a solid waste incinerator or a solid waste processing facility or granted an exemption from the solid waste processing rules under 329 IAC 11-3-1(13) as a solid waste management activity that does not pose a threat to human health or the environment. IDEM undertook presenting a draft rule to address the current options which represent, at one extreme, more regulatory burden than is needed and, at the other extreme, exemption from regulatory oversight. According to IDEM, the proposed rule was developed to provide a more appropriate regulatory tool that assures best practices are being utilized without imposing excessive requirements that would hinder the beneficial use of waste materials as a fuel.

The following are excluded from regulation under the proposed new rule:

  • facilities that hold a valid permit to treat, process, store, or dispose of solid or hazardous waste;
  • processing of uncontaminated and untreated natural growth solid waste and saw dust, including tree limbs, stumps, leaves, and grass clippings;
  • permitted hazardous waste facilities that store, treat, or dispose of nonhazardous solid waste where such solid waste is treated or disposed of as a hazardous waste at the receiving hazardous waste facility; and
  • processing and burning for fuel of manufactured wood waste for purposes of energy consumption on-site.

Next Steps

While the SWMB made no changes to either of the proposed new rules during preliminarily adoption on February 21, 2012, some changes are anticipated before final adoption.  Although there is currently no comment period pending, the public will have the opportunity to comment at a second hearing, which has been scheduled for September 18, 2012.  If the rules are final adopted, owners or operators of existing facilities that are required to register under either proposed rule will be required to submit a registration form within sixty days after the effective date of the new rule; however, these facilities will be allowed to continue to operate in the interim unless the registration is denied.

Additional information concerning the preliminarily adopted rules is available at  http://www.in.gov/idem/6764.htm.


To view a complete PDF of the May/June 2012 issue of the Environmental Letter, click HERE.

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