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Weyerhaeuser Company

EPA Response to Comments

Weyerhaeuser FPA: EPA Response to Comments





The public comment period on the draft Final Project Agreement was held from October 8, 1996 to November 9, 1996, to solicit input from stakeholders. Thirteen letters were received in response to the request for comments. Eleven of the letters expressed support for the proposed XL project. The other two letters contained comments regarding concerns about the project, XL in general, and some confusion about some of the proposed project. These letters are included as part of this appendix to the Final Project Agreement.

          The local stakeholders (considered to be those in the general vicinity of the plant) included; the Georgia Southwestern University (a Senior Unit of the University System of Georgia) Departments of Biology and Geology, the Macon County Chamber of Commerce, the Lake Blackshear Watershed Association, the City of Oglethorpe, the City of Montezuma, the Macon County Board of Commissioners, and the Macon State Prison (a unit of the Georgia Department of Corrections). All the comments provided by the local stakeholders expressed support of the efforts by Weyerhaeuser to maintain its role as an environmental leader through this Xl project.

          One letter was received from a State-wide stakeholder. The Georgia Environmental Organization (GEO) praised the company's responsiveness to the GEO in providing time and information to them for use in their evaluation of the project. The author was pleased with the information and access provided and stated in his letter that he whole-heartedly approved of the Weyerhaeuser XL project as outlined in the Final Project Agreement.

          The Georgia Delegation to the United States Congress also provided a letter in support of this XL project. This letter expressed bi-partisan support from all Georgia members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The letter commended the parties to the agreement for their efforts in developing the project.

          Three letters were received from national stakeholder organizations. The Institute for Regulatory Policy (an affiliate of Federal Focus, Inc.) provided a letter of support for both the innovative approach to environmental protection and the environmental resource management.

          The National Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund, both identifed issues, concerns or areas requiring additional clarification. These commenters raised a number of good points regarding the environmental impact of the project and made a number of constructive suggestions. The FPA has been modified in several respects, as described below, in response to the comments.



          Some comments on this project reflected a misconception regarding the XL program. Specifically, there was a comment to the effect that a basic defect with the FPA is that none of the flexibility afforded Weyerhaeuser under the FPA has been shown to be "needed" to allow the environmentally beneficial activities under the project to proceed. This comment raises issues beyond this particular agreement. The following is provided as a response to the more general question of flexibility granted under the XL program.

          In certain instances, a project may identify requirements that present true barriers to environmentally beneficial activities, and in such cases, providing flexibility with respect to those requirements may certainly be appropriate. In many other instances, however, the connection between the flexibility provided and the beneficial activities will be less direct. In the Weyerhaeuser project, for example, EPA and GA EPD propose to provide flexibility that will reduce compliance costs for Weyerhaeuser, and Weyerhaeuser has agreed to invest some portion of those savings in the environmentally beneficial activities described in the FPA. This approach is completely within the scope of Project XL. In fact, the original Federal Register notice announcing Project XL describes, as an example of an XL project, a situation where a facility does not fully attain a technology-based emission or discharge standard but adopts a pollution prevention program or installs additional controls on other releases so as to achieve superior results at the facility (60 FR at 27287 (May 23, 1995)). Thus, the idea of affording flexibility to provide incentives, as opposed to simply lifting literal barriers, has been a part of the XL program since its inception.

          Some of the appendices to the Final Project Agreement contain proposed permit or rule language. These are provided to document the understandings reached between the parties in the course of negotiating the agreement. These do not in any way restrict EPA or the State's ability to accept public comment and address those comments by making changes to the proposed permit or rule.

          The permitting authority will exercise its independent regulatory authority in renewing or modifying a permit. The company will be allowed to provide input, especially in those instances where permit changes will incorporate as yet unknown results from the proposed feasibility studies. This will in no way compromise the permitting authority's ability to exercise its responsibilities independently.

          The substance of the comments and the Agency's responses are provided below.


1. COMMENT: Two commenters are concerned that the elimination of NPDES DMR reporting would limit the public's access to information about the mill's performance and would impede efforts by facility managers and others from assessing the mill's compliance with its effluent limitations.

RESPONSE: The FPA will be revised to clarify how information may be accessed by the public. The intention of the parties is to make information more available on an as requested basis and to maintain a transparent process. The amount of information available to the public will actually increase as a result of this project, in that the public may request information directly from the company that might not otherwise be available in the structured Discharge Monitoring Reports typically provided to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD). This is discussed in more detail below.

Moreover, there will be no impedance of GA EPD's enforcement of permit limits due to a lack of information. Instead, EPD actually will have access to more information in order to evaluate pollution control performance while enforcing the NPDES permit limits. This is because under the FPA the facility will report noncompliance events beyond what is required by 40 CFR 122.41(l)(6). That regulation requires 24-hour oral reporting of violations that "endanger health or the environment." Weyerhaeuser's proposed NPDES permit revision will require that Flint River will report any permit limit exceedances within 24 hours of their occurrence to GA EPD, with written reports following within 5 days (see page 53, FPA). Normally, GA EPD would not learn of a permit violation until the Discharge Monitoring Report was turned in on the 28th day of the month following the month the violation occurred. Because of Project XL, GA EPD will receive violation reports in a near-real time fashion. This is a positive outcome of the XL process. In addition, inspectors for GA EPD will continue to exercise their responsibilities in assuring that the company's self-monitoring systems are effective and that data being generated is of highest quality.

The reduction in routine reporting requirements, such as DMRs, is a cost and time saving measure eliminating reports to GA EPD without any reduction in the monitoring and information collection occurring at the plant. This approach will save GA EPD data entry time. Cost savings and paperwork reduction is a criteria of each XL project, and the benefits in this project accrue to both the regulator and the project sponsor.

To ensure easy access to the fundamental violation data in the national databases, GA EPD will be entering any NPDES-related exceedance (usually reported monthly on DMR's) into the Permit Compliance System (PCS) as a "single event violation." This data is accessible to all who can access EPA's ENVIROFACTS database on the World Wide Web (http:\\www.epa.gov).

Information collected and maintained by the Plant may be requested by writing, calling or faxing a request to the Flint River Operations Plant Environmental Manager. An example of the type of information available in a typical data report from the plant is included at the end of the Responsiveness Summary. Site visits may be arranged by contacting the Plant Environmental Manager. In addition, summary reports on progress under the XL project will be prepared twice a year. Once a year, at a minimum, the company will host stakeholders at an open meeting to present results and to answer questions.

To request data, reports, or to arrange a site visit please contact:

Plant Environmental Manager

Weyerhaeuser Flint River Operations

P.O. Box 238

Oglethorpe, GA 31068

At this time, the infrastructure (e.g., programmers, file servers) is not in place at Flint River Operations that would allow for instantaneous access to data via a World Wide Web site, as was advocated by several commenters. EPA believes the information reporting and communication plan presented in the FPA is a significant advance over the DMR scheme without the electronic posting of information suggested by the commenter.

The company has committed to providing data directly to the requestor. In order to assure that the data will be made available in a timely manner as promised, the proposed permit language provided in Appendix 3 will be revised to reflect that failure to provide reasonably requested data or reports may result in reinstitution of the requirement for DMR reporting. This issue will be addressed again when the permit is issued for public comment in the regular renewal cycle. In addition, EPA notes that the semi-annual and annual reports will contain all information that would have been contained in the DMRs, so that the public will continue to be able to obtain this kind of information from the regulatory agency, in addition to being able to obtain it directly from the company.

Although EPA does not anticipate any problems with a member of the general public receiving requested information, in the event that anyone has difficulty getting information from the company in a reasonable timeframe, EPA will directly request the same information on behalf of the requestor.

Overall, EPA believes the flexible, interactive reporting plan to be piloted through this XL project will provide more and better information, at lower cost to the company and regulators, than the use of routine DMR reporting.

2. COMMENT: Two commenters expressed concerns regarding the PSD aspects of the proposed XL project. One commenter expressed concern over the proposed exemptions of future physical changes to certain equipment from PSD permitting requirements at the plant. Another commenter was concerned that the proposed "facility emissions cap" for criteria air pollutants does not maintain current levels of environmental protection.

RESPONSE: There appears to be confusion over the implementation and impact of the proposed permitting change.

A)     The two caps contemplated by the FPA are different.

1. The facility emissions cap pertaining to the majority of the equipment at the facility will be based on current actual emissions plus PSD significance levels. Both physical changes and method of operation changes would be allowed up to the actual emissions plus an amount less than PSD significance levels. The establishment of the cap ensures that future modifications will be less than significance levels compared to the baseline. This operational flexibility allows the company to respond quickly to changes in customer demand without a costly and unnecessary delay for essentially a paper exercise. If the company were to determine in advance of the change that the emissions would exceed the cap then the company would have to comply with the full PSD review process. If the company were to go forward with the change and it was determined later that the cap was exceeded, then the cap acts as an enforceable limit and the company would be in noncompliance with its permit.

2. The major sources cap allows for four pieces of equipment to be operated to their design capacity without triggering PSD review. No physical or method of operation changes may be made without first undergoing full PSD review. This cap merely allows the company to fully utilize this equipment, but does not allow equipment modification. It is important to note that the major sources cap is set not at the 1985 PSD allowable emissions rate but at the current actual emissions rate multiplied by the maximum capacity of the unit as the process is currently configured. This means that the major source cap levels will remain below previously permitted PSD allowable emissions, and will only exceed current actual emissions to the extent that Weyerhaeuser demonstrates that the major sources are not fully utilized today. The Agencies will use past utilization data, engineering expertise, and other information to verify Weyerhaeuser's projection of the maximum process throughput of the facility. The major source cap levels will be enforceable against the company; should the subject equipment exceed those levels without any physical or method of operation change, then the company will be out of compliance with its permit.

To clarify this in the FPA, language will be added on page 63, making it clear that "modification" encompasses both physical and method of operation changes consistent with federal and state regulatory requirements.

The purpose of the major sources cap is to streamline air pollution control reviews for existing units that are not modified and for which PSD review would not result in any environmental benefit. This does not imply that all PSD reviews are "paperwork" reviews or are reviews that would result in no environmental benefit. On the contrary, the emissions controls of the source to date are a product of going through the PSD process at the time of the facility's original construction. Rather, this cap seeks to eliminate the review of emissions increases from unmodified, PSD-permitted units that occur as a result of changes elsewhere in the plant. Under current EPA regulations, emissions increases from unmodified units that result from a proposed "project" are considered in determining whether the "project" triggers PSD applicability; however, the unmodified units are not required to undergo a BACT analysis or to reduce currently permitted emissions unless an air quality analysis dictates the need. Under the two cap scenario contemplated by this XL project, the emissions from the new or modified units involved in the project would still be evaluated against the facility emissions cap (actual + less than significant emissions) to determine if PSD is triggered.

The XL program is intended to allow EPA to experiment with untried, potentially promising regulatory approaches, both to assess whether they provide benefits at the specific facility affected, and to assess whether they should be considered for wider application. As part of this experimentation, EPA may try out approaches or legal interpretations that depart from or are even inconsistent with longstanding Agency practice, so long as those interpretations are within the broad range of discretion enjoyed by the Agency in interpreting statutes that it implements. The Agency believes that, for the limited purpose of this XL project only, it may reasonably interpret the Clean Air Act to allow a permitting authority to exclude for PSD applicability purposes emissions increases at unmodified units that have previously received and are complying with PSD permits. Depending on the results of this XL project, EPA may or may not be willing to consider adopting this interpretation again, either generally or for other specific facilities. The interpretation offered today is limited to this particular XL project.

As stated in the FPA, the use of the major sources cap at the Weyerhaeuser Flint River facility is premised on the following environmental safeguards:

a)     the specific units (power boiler, recovery boiler, smelt dissolving tank, and calciner) have previously gone through the PSD process, including a determination of best available control technology; and

b)     an air quality analysis and additional impacts analysis have been completed. These analyses evaluate the emissions of the units at full utilization and demonstrate compliance with NAAQS and PSD increments. (As a subpart, there must be confirmation that the underlying assumptions used in the air quality analysis - e.g., stack heights - are still valid)

While the environmental impact of the unmodified sources under the major sources cap will likely be the same regardless of the modifications at the rest of the plant, the time and money saved by eliminating these types of PSD reviews will allow attention to be focused on more environmentally productive areas. In summary, since fewer permit actions will be needed under the proposed emissions caps, the Agency expects that this pilot project will offer significant time and costs savings to the company, the Agency, and the State with no detrimental effect to the environment.

B)      The 1995 Air Permit

A second item requiring clarification is the inclusion in the comments of information pertaining to an Air Permit applied for by the company in July 1995. The commenter's analysis of "superior environmental performance" appears to be based on a comparison of an emissions baseline derived from data contained in the 1995 permit application to tentative emissions caps set forth in the FPA. As noted in the FPA, EPA and the State will verify the actual emissions data to be used in establishing the baseline and the caps, prior to publishing the proposed permit modification. However, it is important to note that compliance with existing PSD regulations would not bar the company from increasing emissions above current levels. Absent this XL project, the company has the following choices relative to modifications at the facility: 1) modify units one project at a time and net out of PSD in each instance, or, 2) undergo the major PSD permit process. The caps described above eliminate the opportunity for nonaggregation of minor modifications and other available options for a source to avoid PSD review using the first approach. Therefore, overall EPA expects no detrimental effect to the environment as a result of the contemplated flexibility. Interested stakeholders are invited to participate in the verification process and are encouraged to participate in the State's public comment period on the proposed permit modifications.

3. COMMENT: A commenter made four separate points with respect to MACT compliance, which are addressed separately below.

3.A. COMMENT: There is no basis for the credit given to the Flint River Mill for existing voluntary reductions at non-MACT sources.

RESPONSE: The Agency disagrees with the commenter's position that the FPA contains inadequate provisions relating to alternative MACT compliance. EPA expects that, overall, the project will achieve superior environmental performance.

Through the project, EPA is providing the Flint River Mill the flexibility to apply reductions from sources other than those likely to be specified in the standard (including certain existing voluntary reductions) toward compliance with the forthcoming MACT standard. As EPA acknowledged in the proposed FPA, there is a possibility that this credit for existing voluntary reductions could result in Weyerhaeuser achieving less HAP reductions under the project than it would have achieved under the MACT standard, at least in the short term. However, EPA believes that this possibility is justified, for several reasons.

First, the credit allowed for existing voluntary reductions under the project is small. Appendix 7, Section B of the FPA limits the voluntary reductions to specifically listed equipment. Some of these listed pieces of equipment are likely to be subject to the MACT standard, in which case they would no longer be considered voluntary controls. EPA believes that the existing voluntary reductions that can be counted from the list of equipment in Appendix 7, Section B will comprise a relatively small portion of the total HAP reductions required. Flint River has estimated the total HAPs from these vents to be about 40 tons per year. EPA estimates, based on on-going analyses being developed in support of the pulp and paper cluster rule, that facilities with Weyerhaeuser's pulp and paper production capacity will likely have to reduce total HAP emissions by 500 tons or more per year to comply with the forthcoming standard.

Second, it is likely that Weyerhaeuser's HAP reductions under the project will equal or exceed the reductions that would have occurred under the MACT standard. It is important to note, the MACT rule is expected to include both three year and eight year compliance deadlines. Based on EPA's current knowledge of the Flint River Mill and the probable provisions of the final MACT rule, EPA expects that the mill's bleach plant sources, low volume digester sources, and pulping condensate sources will have a three year compliance deadline, while the remaining sources subject to the MACT will have an eight year compliance deadline. Because the mill is relatively modern and employs most of the operations on which MACT is likely to be based for the 3-year sources, EPA expects that the mill sources subject to a three year deadline will be able to comply with MACT without resort to any credit for existing voluntary controls at non-MACT sources.

By, or shortly after, the eight-year compliance date, EPA believes that the measures that Weyerhaeuser will be undertaking under the project will in all likelihood result in emission reductions that will exceed the reductions that the mill would have obtained under the MACT standard. In exchange for the flexibility provided by the FPA approach, Weyerhaeuser has agreed to take specified measures that EPA expects will reduce emissions at the mill in the long run and have significant value for the national air program. Most directly, EPA believes that the equipment reconfiguration, changes in water recycle patterns, and general process optimization that will likely occur as part of Weyerhaeuser's endeavor to achieve its bleach plant effluent flow reduction goal will result in reductions in HAP emissions beyond those that would occur by direct compliance with the MACT standard.

Weyerhaeuser has committed in the FPA to conduct Feasibility Studies that may result in changes that reduce the amount of effluent coming out of the bleach plant. Based on the results of the feasibility studies there may be changes to process operations such that less water is required by the bleach plant and more water is recycled from the bleach plant. Less water will be needed in the bleach plant when there is less lignin in the pulp going to the bleach plant, and less lignin requires less chlorinated bleaching agents that have to be washed out of the pulp in the bleach plant. Changes to the pulp digestion area of the mill and the oxygen delignification area of the mill contemplated by Weyerhaeuser are examples of the types of process changes that will lead to this result. When less chlorinated bleaching agents are used, formation of chlorinated HAPs is reduced, and less chlorinated HAPs are ultimately emitted to the air, either out of the bleaching plant vents or out of the wastewater treatment system. Also, EPA believes that some reconfiguration of washing equipment in both the pulping and bleaching areas of the mill is likely so that the equipment will wash better with less water. Newer, better washer configurations tend to also vent less. However, using less water in the bleach plant is not likely to be sufficient to meet the flow reduction goals set by the FPA. Some of the bleach plant water will probably need to be recycled to other parts of the mill, such as the pulping area. To be able to recycle bleach plant water, it needs to be free of chlorinated materials. This water would also likely contain less nonchlorinated HAP materials than waters in other parts of the mill. Conceivably, this cleaner bleach plant water could replace some dirtier water in use at some other places in this mill. This has the potential to result in significant reductions in HAP emissions because studies conducted in support of the MACT standard under development indicate that up to 70 percent of HAP emissions are attributable to the HAP content of recycled waters. Additionally, the aforementioned changes will not take place in a vacuum. EPA anticipates that equipment reconfiguration and changes in water recycle patterns will be accompanied by other process optimization steps. For example, these bleach plant waters have heat value that could be recaptured, thus translating into reduced steam demand on boilers, which would result in reduced air emissions. Also, cooler recycled streams would tend to emit less HAPs to the air than from hotter processes.

Third, Weyerhaeuser has agreed to undertake significant measures to reduce the amount of water pollution and waste generated by the mill and to investigate further reductions. For an explanation of the benefits of these reductions, see the October 10, 1996 "Dear Stakeholder" letter that accompanied the draft FPA. Given the likelihood that the mill will achieve HAP reductions that equal or exceed those that would have been achieved by the forthcoming MACT standard, and the significant additional cross-media environmental benefits of the project, EPA is confident that the project overall will achieve superior environmental performance.

Of course, some of the potential benefits of the project are uncertain. For example, neither EPA nor Weyerhaeuser can predict with confidence the outcome of feasibility studies that the company will undertake. However, it is wholly consistent with the pilot nature of Project XL that Weyerhaeuser will be investigating experimental approaches and technologies that hold the promise to yield significant benefits, although they inherently entail some risks. Perhaps more important than any of the specific anticipated benefits of the project is the fact that Weyerhaeuser will be investigating pollution prevention approaches that will likely help point the way to more integrated air and water pollution control with less waste generation. These approaches will likely be transferable to other facilities.

Finally, EPA expects that the parties and the public will have the results of Weyerhaeuser's feasibility studies before the eight-year MACT compliance deadline. Should EPA conclude that the project, overall, is not achieving superior environmental performance, EPA may terminate the project per Section X. F. of the FPA prior to the relevant MACT effective date, in which case the mill would revert back to the generally applicable regulatory scheme under the terms of Section X.G. Of course, in lieu of termination, EPA could renegotiate the terms of the project with the company, with stakeholder involvement, and attempt to achieve agreement on a revised FPA committing the company to taking additional environmentally beneficial measures. EPA is committed to ensure that this project, like all XL projects, actually achieves superior environmental performance in operation.

EPA believes that the Clean Air Act affords it the discretion to offer Weyerhaeuser the contemplated MACT flexibility given the particular circumstances of this XL project, including the expectation of both superior environmental performance and transferability, and also the limited scope of the potential credit for existing voluntary HAP reductions from non-MACT sources described above.

3.B. COMMENT: The target for alternative MACT compliance should be better than simple equivalence in view of the commitment of Agency resources to site-specific rulemaking.

RESPONSE: First, as stated above, EPA believes it is likely that the mill will get HAP reductions that exceed those it would have gotten under the forthcoming MACT. Even if this were not true, the Agency disagrees with the implication that each portion of an XL project must achieve superior environmental results. For an FPA such as the one for Flint River, which is multi-media in nature, it is not necessary for environmental superiority to occur in all media. Rather, because (1) EPA anticipates that the project overall will be environmentally superior as explained above, (2) it is designed to investigate pollution prevention approaches with multi-media benefits that EPA hopes will be transferable to other facilities, and (3) it meets the other XL criteria, it is worth the EPA's investment of time and resources.

3.C.  COMMENT: The MACT flexibility should be conditioned on the mill employing pollution prevention approaches.

RESPONSE: The Flint River Mill has committed to a feasibility study to identify the location and types of controls that will achieve HAP emissions reductions. Page 15 of the FPA sets forth examples of the types of controls that Flint River will be investigating. Many of them are pollution-prevention type controls that are in addition to the more traditional add-on type controls that Flint River will also be considering. In fact, some of the pollution-prevention type controls discussed that are based on reductions in the HAP content of condensates and wash waters are in keeping with the clean condensate alternative kraft pulping standard anticipated to be provided in the promulgated MACT standard, previously discussed at 61 FR 9395 (March 8, 1996). EPA is encouraged that Flint River would investigate such an approach. In addition, the measures Weyerhaeuser is investigating should have positive environmental impacts in the water arena as well, and fit in well with the concept of mill flow reduction. However, the Agency disagrees with the commenter's position that the FPA should limit the mill to the selection of pollution-prevention controls. The FPA provides the mill the flexibility to identify the best combination of control strategies, as determined through the feasibility study. The Agency is hopeful that Weyerhaeuser will choose to employ significant pollution prevention approaches to HAP reduction, based on its commitment to pollution prevention in the FPA, its demonstrated historical commitment to pollution prevention, and the likely efficiencies that will be identified through the feasibility studies.

3.D. COMMENT: The project should bar substitution of more toxic for less toxic HAPs.

RESPONSE: EPA's intent with the MACT portion of the FPA is to be as consistent as possible with the requirements in the final MACT standard. This consistency is evidenced in Appendix 7 of the FPA by controlling total HAPs from the facility, allowing compliance to be demonstrated through methanol measurements, and using EPA-approved test methods as provided in the MACT standard. Because no provisions are envisioned in the final MACT standard addressing the toxicity of individual HAPs or an option for allowing the substitution of less toxic HAPs for more toxic HAPs, there is no reason to address the issue in the FPA.

4. COMMENT: One commenter was concerned that the amendment to the air quality permit detailed in the FPA lacks criteria for accepting surrogate or parametric air emissions monitoring in lieu of performance testing. The commenter is also concerned that the revisions delete the portions of the permit that identify the sources and pollutants that are subject to the performance requirements.

RESPONSE: The language for air quality permit modifications included in the FPA is based on existing and State-verified source emissions tests as described and required in the existing permit. The surrogate and parametric monitoring requirements have been correlated with actual emissions tests and have been consistent indicators of actual source emissions during previous years of testing. When the actual permit modification process begins, the State, EPA, and Weyerhaeuser will determine which sources will qualify under each monitoring scenario. These sources will be identified in the draft permit and will be subject to comment during the formal comment period prior to issuance of the new permit.

In response to the second part of the comment, EPA reviewed this proposed change with the permitting authority and agreed that clarification was necessary. The language currently in Sections 9a and 9b of the Air Quality Permit will be augmented, rather than replaced, by the language proposed in Appendix 6 of the FPA.

5. COMMENT: One commenter was concerned about the 2% run time exemption for excess emission reporting.

RESPONSE: EPA believes the exemption is appropriate because it is consistent with the Region's Continuous Emissions Enforcement Policy (May 5, 1989) and there will be an opportunity to review all excess emissions data during inspections (conducted semiannually by the State). Further, one of the goals of Project XL is paperwork reduction. Also, all emissions data maintained that the facility will be made available to requestors as described in the response to Comment #1.

6. COMMENT: One commenter expressed concern regarding the FPA's failure to include provisions for the reporting of releases of certain air pollutants (which are included in the FPA's table as parameters that the facility is monitoring).

RESPONSE: Page 30 of the FPA will be revised to include the parameters listed in Table One as part of the annual XL status report. Much of this information is only collected on an annual basis. As stated in the response to Comment #1, the company has assured EPA that interested parties may contact the facility to request any data gathered as part of routine monitoring at the plant or as part of this XL project.

7. COMMENT: One commenter was interested in knowing what specific feasibility studies are planned, and how stakeholders may remain involved in the decision-making process.

RESPONSE: EPA believes the FPA, as modified in response to other comments, strikes the appropriate balance between flexibility afforded to Weyerhaeuser and commitments provided by the company. Contrary to the commenter's suggestion, the FPA provides a sufficient amount of detail regarding the nature of the feasibility studies to be undertaken by Weyerhaeuser, including identification of the specific areas of study and proposed milestones for completion of the principal phases of the studies (FPA pp. 11, 12). The FPA also specifies numeric goals that can be used by EPA and the public to judge the success of critical portions of the feasibility studies (see, e.g., FPA pp 10-11 -- 50% bleach plant effluent reduction and 50% solid waste reduction). The FPA also specifies that Weyerhaeuser will share both its plans for the feasibility studies and the results with the regulatory agencies and stakeholders as they are available (p. 10)..

Should the project in operation not produce superior environmental results, the FPA may be modified or terminated, as described Response #3, above.

EPA, the State, and Weyerhaeuser will be working to maintain this as an open process. Stakeholders are encouraged to participate in public meetings and other opportunities to provide input. The Feasibility Studies are anticipated to be a good way for all parties to learn more about more environmentally beneficial practices at this type of pulp and paper mill. Anyone who is interested in participating will be welcomed into the process.

8. COMMENT: The commenter requested an explanation for the discrepancy in Table Two concerning the MIM Phase IV goal for water use at the plant, and the footnote indicating a different amount for the enforceable permit limit.

RESPONSE: The amount given as the MIM Phase IV goal is the company's best estimate of what actual usage will be at the plant. In order to have the flexibility to implement the feasibility studies and support customer demand, the company has agreed to a one million gallon per day reduction in their surface water usage permit. As indicated, the goal is a reduction to approximately ten million gallons per day. The industry average water usage for this type of plant is approximately twenty-five million gallons per day. This will be corrected in the FPA by indicating in the table that the enforceable limit is eleven and a half million gallons per day, and the footnote will reflect the more ambitious goal of ten and one fifth million gallons per day proposed by the facility.

9. COMMENT: One commenter stated that the FPA provision that the parties, including Weyerhaeuser, would jointly determine the mill's proposed flow permit limit in 2002 represents an inappropriate surrender of the permitting authority's responsibility to independently establish draft permit conditions.

RESPONSE: EPA disagrees. Neither present regulations nor the proposed pulp and paper rule establish mandatory flow limits for the pulp and paper industry. In developing the pulp and paper rule, EPA has not identified an industry-wide BAT that would provide the basis to establish flow limitations for the industry. While it is conceivable that a plant-specific BAT for the mill could be identified that would provide the basis for a flow limit, it is highly unlikely that the information to support such a finding could be developed without the kinds of feasibility studies Weyerhaeuser is proposing to undertake. EPA believes its regulatory authorities and obligations should not be read so narrowly as to prevent the Agency from providing incentives for the mill to perform the studies that will likely provide the sole technical basis to establish any flow limit in the mill's permit. In addition, EPA notes that the commenter and others will, of course, have the opportunity to comment on the facility's draft permit, including the proposed flow limit.

10. COMMENT: One commenter expressed concern that Appendix 7 is written too strongly and that it will be binding on the parties.

RESPONSE: EPA notes that Appendix 7 of the FPA simply states the principles the parties agreed to for accounting for HAP emissions as the basis to develop proposed regulatory mechanisms for public comment. The FPA, Section IX, is clear that EPA's commitments are limited to issuing proposals consistent with the FPA; EPA has not committed to any final regulatory actions. Appendix 7 accurately states the parties' agreement in principle, but it does not limit in any way EPA's or Ga EPD's discretion with respect to taking final action on any regulatory mechanisms following review of public comments.

EPA believes that the Flint River mill likely already meets MACT for the bleach plant, where the chlorinated HAPs are present. Therefore, the credit for existing voluntary reductions would mostly be earned and applied to units on the pulping side of the mill, where the same mixture of HAPs are present throughout the process. As such, EPA has no reason to believe that the HAP emissions reductions obtained through the FPA would be less toxic than those that would be obtained through compliance with the MACT standard. Also, it should be noted that the MACT standard to be promulgated will likely contain an alternative kraft pulping mill standard that involves a type of trading scheme. This alternative standard, referred to as the clean condensate alternative kraft pulping standard was noticed for public comment at 61 FR 9395 (March 8, 1996).

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