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Industrial Permitting

The most significant way that the Air Pollution Control Bureau controls air pollution in Hamilton County is by permitting facilities that are potential sources of air pollutants.  Another method the Bureau uses is issuing asbestos permits for regulated building demolitions or renovations.  The Bureau also issues permits for burning wood and vegetation.

All industry that has the potential to emit any air pollutant operating in Hamilton County is required to obtain an air pollution permit.  This permit may be in the form of a Certificate of Operation for minor pollution sources or a Part 70 Operating Permit for major sources.  The Bureau engineering staff addresses all permitting issues for the companies to which they are assigned.  The Bureau engineers conduct annual inspections, track air emissions, and develop special operating conditions to ensure compliance with the applicable rules and regulations. 

Part 70 Operating Permits (Major Sources)

As mandated by Title V of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the Bureau implemented an operating permits program that applies to major sources of air pollution.  This local program, called the Part 70 Operating Permits Program, approved by EPA in 1996, was required by Congress to develop a fee structure to pay for the administrative costs of permit programs for major sources.  The shift in payment takes the burden from taxpayers and places it on the sources of air pollution. 

Eighteen local companies are currently considered major sources* of air pollution according the following criteria:

  • the potential to emit 100 tons or more per year of any criteria pollutant;
  • the potential to emit 10 tons or more per year of any one of the 188
  • listed hazardous air pollutants or 25 tons or more of any combination of the listed hazardous air pollutants
  • acid precipitation sources; and
  • any other source the EPA Administrator determines by rulemaking should be included.

* Certain companies are required by EPA to keep their major source status even if they no longer pollute at major-source levels.

Synthetic Minor Sources

Some sources, which because of their potential to emit would be considered major sources of air pollution and therefore subject to Part 70 requirements, have agreed to enforceable permit limitations to reduce their potential to emit.  As long as these sources do not violate the conditions which are placed in their current certificates of operation, they are not subject to Part 70 requirements and fees.  There are currently 91 synthetic minor sources.

Minor Sources

Companies whose potential to emit does not meet the major source criteria are under this classification.  Minor source companies must obtain a certificate of operation for each piece of equipment or process that may release pollutants into the air.  Special operating conditions are developed for each certificate to ensure compliance with all application rules and regulations.  The 130 minor sources are subject to the same regulations as Part 70 major sources and synthetic minor sources.

Installation Permits

Industries that are potential sources of air pollution must receive an installation permit before constructing, installing, or reconstructing any equipment that has the potential to emit air pollutants.  Installation permits contain emissions limitations and operating requirements that must be agreed to by the source prior to receiving the permit.  A certificate of operation must be issued or a Part 70 permit application must be received prior to operating the equipment.

For additional information, contact the Bureau Engineering Manager via e-mail or by phone at (423) 643-5986.

Pollution Prevention

Pollution prevention--reducing or eliminating emissions before they occur--is one of the main focuses of the Bureau. Through pollution prevention, we have been able to help companies see the economic and environmental benefits of changing to less polluting options. Recent P2 efforts include:

BASF Corporation added two new boilers in 2004. These will replace two boilers that burned No. 6 fuel oil as a backup fuel. No. 2 fuel oil will now be the backup fuel. Based on fuel usage for calendar year 2003, this change will result in a decrease in total air pollutant emissions of about 17 tons per year.

Velsicol Chemical Corporation began using an ethylene plant co-product in place of No. 2 fuel oil. This co-product is considered to have emissions that are similar to those from No. 2 fuel oil, except that SOx emissions will be significantly reduced. Based on fuel usage for calendar year 2003, this change will result in a decrease in SOx emissions of about 2 tons per year.

If you do not live in Hamilton County, permitting information may be obtained by following the links below.

EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards - Permits
State of Tennessee Environmental Permit Handbook