Proposed Amendments to Declaration of Small Boilers as Controlled Emitters and Listed Activities

The Declaration of a Small Boiler as a Controlled Emitter and Establishment of Emission Standards was promulgated 7 years ago, on the 01st of November 2013, under the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act.

This notice declared that boilers with design capacities equal to or greater than 10 MW net heat input (NHI) but less than 50 MW NHI per unit be classified as “small boilers”. Emissions limits were specified for these “small boilers” depending on the fuels that they were burning. The notice required that these “small boilers” undergo annual stack emissions measurements and that annual emissions results be submitted by the operators of “small boilers” to the Air Quality Officer (AQO).

A design capacity of 10 MW NHI corresponds to a maximum continuous rating (MCR) of ≈ 14 tonnes of saturated steam per hour. A 14 t/hr boiler is actually a relatively large package boiler, and thus many package boilers on industrial sites fall below the threshold of 10 MW NHI, are not classified as “small boilers”, and are not required by law to undergo emissions sampling or comply with emissions limits.

Boilers with design capacities greater than 50 MW NHI are classified as “listed activities” in terms of the List of activities which result in atmospheric emissions which have or may have a significant detrimental effect on the environment, including health, social conditions, economic conditions, ecological conditions or cultural heritage (GN 893 in GG 37054). Listed activities are also required to undergo annual emissions measurements, comply with emissions limits and require an atmospheric emissions licence (AEL) to operate lawfully.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has proposed that the Declaration of a Small Boiler as a Controlled Emitter and Establishment of Emission Standards be amended in the following ways:

1. Where a facility simultaneously operates two or more boilers that have a combined design capacity equal to or greater than 10 MW NHI, these boilers will be classified as “small boilers” and will be required to comply with GN 831.

2. Where a facility which is not already a licensed listed activity operates two or more small boilers that have a combined capacity equal to or greater than 50 MW NHI, the facility will be classified as a listed activity and must apply for an AEL within 24 months of the promulgation of the amendments. If the facility was already a licensed listed activity, the facility must apply for a variation of their existing AEL within 24 months of the promulgation of the amendments.

3. All operators of “small boilers” must register as a data provider on the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory System (NAEIS) and must comply with all the requirements of the National Atmospheric Emission Reporting Regulations. Many operators of “small boilers” will already be doing this in line with their municipality’s requirements.

In summary, these proposed amendments seek to better regulate the cumulative impacts of boilers which may previously have “slipped through the cracks”. However, there is the risk that this information, if not well disseminated, may lead to many companies being non-compliant. Please share this blog post with all your facilities that have boilers, and contact us to help you evaluate whether you will fall above or below the 10 MW and 50 MW thresholds.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries is hosting a virtual multi-stakeholder workshop to discuss these proposed amendments, as well as amendments to regulations concerning temporary mobile asphalt plants and the introduction of regulations for air quality Priority Areas. The workshop will take place on the 20th of January 2021 from 09:30 until 12:30 on the Microsoft Teams platform. The link to the workshop is included below, as are the original and proposed amendments to the “small boilers” regulations, the proposed changes to the temporary asphalt plant regulations, and the agenda for the workshop.

Please contact us to support your business in being compliant.