Reduction In Nonattainment Area for 1-Hour SO2 Standard In Jefferson County Questioned Posted: February 2, 2012
February 2, 2012
Ms. Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming
US EPA Region IV
61 Forsyth Street SW
Atlanta GA 30303
Re: Proposed boundary recommendation for 1-Hour SO2 Standard, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Dear Ms. Fleming:
I’m writing on behalf of the many Kentucky Resources Council members within the metro Louisville/Jefferson County air quality region, to express the Council’s opposition to the proposal by the Air Pollution Control District and Commonwealth of Kentucky to artificially constrain the nonattainment area for the 1-hour SO2 standard to a triangular area of land surrounding the Louisville Gas & Electric Mill Creek plant.
KRC believes that the proposed updated boundary recommendation is inconsistent with the guidance issued by EPA in May, 2011, “Area Designations for the 2010 Revised Primary Sulfur Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard” and is not supported by the air quality data at this time.
In June, 2011, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality recommended to EPA that Jefferson County be designated “nonattainment” for the revised primary 1-Hour SO2 standard. By letter dated December 20, 2011, the current Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet sent a letter proposing to revise that recommendation and to reduce the “nonattainment area” to a small fraction of that area, an artificially-drawn “triangle” of land bounded by Watson Lane, Dixie Highway, the Ohio River, and the property lines of the LG&E Mill Creek and Kosmos Cement plants.
According to the December 20 letter, this revised boundary was based on “additional analyses” conducted by the APCD staff to “more precisely define the area of Jefferson County to be designated.”
A review of the revised recommendation that accompanied the December 20, 2011 letter reflects that the District based the proposed revision on a review of meteorology, and air quality and emissions data. Respectfully, the data is insufficient to allow a shrinking of the nonattainment area in this manner, and absent proper modeling, the lines drawn appear to be somewhat arbitrary and could result in continued exposure to residents in the Jefferson County airshed to sulfur dioxide at levels above which EPA has indicated adverse health consequences result.
We begin with the acknowledgment that no level of exposure to sulfur dioxide is therapeutic, and that the goal of designation of an area as nonattainment is to spur prompt and meaningful reductions to achieve the ambient air quality standard as well as to maintain compliance over time.
At this time, the data and analyses undertaken do not justify the shrinkage of the nonattainment area. The Recommendation acknowledges that “attainment of the SO2 standard is achieved when the 3-year average of the 99th percentile annual distribution of the daily maxima is less than or equal to 75 ppb.” A review of the 2007-2010 data reflects that those values have not been achieved at all three of the monitors for the periods of 2007 through 2010. The fourth monitor, at Cannons Lane, began operation in 2010.
Absent a three-year period demonstrating compliance with the 75 ppb standard at each of the three monitors, the proposal to reduce the size of the nonattainment area to that area surrounding the Watson Lane monitor, cannot be justified based on air quality data at this time.
The Recommendation suggests that the 2011 data supports the limiting of the nonattainment area going forward, yet acknowledges that the 2011 data had not been certified at the time of the filing. Irrespective of whether the 2011 data reflects attainment of the 75 ppb standard for that year, the three-year average for all three monitors for which there is three years of data, continues to show noncompliance at the Firearms Training Monitor (at a 3-year average of 76.7 ppb) and Green Valley Road (at a three-year average of 128.7).
Based on air quality monitoring, the updated boundary cannot be approved inasmuch as the 3-year average concentrations at all three monitors do not fall below the limit established by EPA. While the agency suggests that the addition of air pollution control equipment and cessation of operation of a unit at Gallagher will result in attainment at the two monitors other than Watson Lane, the designation of an area to unclassifiable or attainment status must be grounded in the requisite air quality monitoring results after installation of such controls. If, after a review of the certified 2012 data for the Firearms Training and Green River monitoring stations, it is demonstrated that those monitors reflect a three-year average below the 75 ppb value, the Commonwealth and APCD can apply to reduce the nonattainment area boundary. At present, the data does not show compliance, and reducing the boundary cannot be justified under applicable standards.
The May 24, 2011 Guidance notes that “as a pollutant that arises from direct emissions, SO2 concentrations are highest relatively close to the source(s) and much lower at greater distances due to dispersion.” EPA recommended that
"A nonattainment area should contain the area violating the NAAQS (e.g. the area around a violating monitor), as well as any adjacent areas (e.g. counties or portions thereof) that contain emissions sources contributing to the violation."
Since all three monitors reflect nonattainment currently, the areas around the violating monitors and any adjacent areas containing emissions sources contributing to those violations must be within the nonattainment area. The proposal to limit the nonattainment area to that immediate surrounding the Mill Creek plant cannot be squared with the EPA Guidance.
The Council has a second and related concern, which is that there does not appear to have been dispersion modeling of the Mill Creek Plant SO2 emissions to support the proposed boundary delineation. Absent modeling, or adequate sampling taken of the ambient air at the boundaries of the proposed nonattainment area, there is no justification for drawing the boundary at that location, and no reasonable basis to assume that immediately outside of that boundary, the ambient air quality goal has been achieved.
In closing, I ask that you reject the proposed boundary and reaffirm that the entirety of Jefferson County will be classified as nonattainment until the air quality data supporting reclassification as “unclassifiable” or the data and modeling support a designation of “attainment.”
Cc: Beverly Banister