Response to the Final 2017 Clean Air Plan

Update: The 2017 Bay Area Clean Air Plan was adopted on Apr 19th, 2017 by BAAQMD (Bay Area Air Quality Management District). Below was our response to it.

I am writing on behalf of Milpitas REACH, a local grassroot movement, which has long been engaging BAAQMD to reduce air pollution from waste processing facilities near our communities. There has been over 30 violations issued by BAAQMD to area polluters within the last 2 years, one as recently as this week. We have been repeatedly told that Regulation 7 (odorous substance enforcement) will be improved through the new Clean Air Plan. We learned during January Board meeting that a draft for the clean air plan will be released.

Unfortunately, we had not been notified of its release and came to my attention today that Clean Air Plan public comment deadline was April 3rd.

Our group has not had the chance to review and provide inputs. We are disappointed that no open houses had been held is our area despite 7000+ odor complaints on record.

Kindly consider my response to the Proposed Final 2017 Clean Air Plan. I hope the following inputs can be included on record as our communities have long been directly impacted by recurring nuisance and emission violations from waste processing facilities in the area.

1. 2017 Plan Volume 2 — Stationary Source Sector, SS40:

Regulatory Context and Background: 

Seventy-three percent of those odor complaints came from a single community in the Bay Area, alleging odors from solid waste and other organic waste related facilities in the area.

Comment 1A: As a resident of the community mentioned, I request that the word “alleging” be revised to include the fact that hundreds of the alleged odors have been confirmed by air quality inspectors to waste processing facilities in the area which continues to impact surrounding communities.

Implementation Actions:

“Evaluate methods of detection and monitoring practices of odorous compounds.
Comment 1B: Impacted residents strongly desire the implementation of active odor monitoring devices and system to replace or supplement the odor complaint process. I recommend that the above statement be strengthened to “evaluate and implement”.
Comment 1C: The proposed actions failed to address deficiency in the current odor complaint process. Please consider improved processes such as deploy mobile or web app to file and track complaints including response time and inspector findings as well as eliminate the need for face to face confirmation if inspectors can adopt the use of mobile odor monitoring device.

“Evaluate the complaint threshold that triggers applicability of the regulation.

Comment 1D: Given our communities long struggle with recurring public nuisance violations, I recommend that the above action be supplemented with evaluating violation threshold with strict timeline for corrective actions including notice of abatement.  

Amend regulatory requirements to ensure best management practices for the control of odorous emissions, such as the requirement of odor mitigation plans

Comment 1E: Given that best management practices may not be adequate to meet state public nuisance code, actions should include amendment in Title V permits to ensure odor abatement can be proven before odor mitigation plan is adopted and permits are granted.

2. 2017 Plan Volume 2 — Waste Management Sector
WA1: Landfills
Implementation Actions:
The Air District will:
Propose amendments to Rule 8-34 to increase stringency of control and fugitive leak standards, and improve consistency with the LMCM and federal rules.
Comment 2A: As a resident in a community adjacent to Newby Island landfill which has had more than 8 recurring Reg 8-34 violations (landfill surface and well leaks), I welcome the proposed amendments. However, I would like to request that the most stringent rules and buffer zones are applied when site is in close proximity to human receptors. Toxicity of by-products of the gas collection systems must also be measured and regulated to eliminate health and safety impacts to on and off-site receptors.

Co-Benefits:

Increased capture of landfill gases would likely result in less potential for odor complaints.

Comment 2B: Odor nuisance is governed by Reg 3. Is there any revision to Reg 3 such that any correlation of odor to landfill gas control can drive enforcement actions through mandatory reduction of emissions? Permits should not be issued for sites with recurring public nuisance violations.

WA2: Composting & Anaerobic Digesters

Propose a rule to limit emissions from composting operations and anaerobic digesters, similar to San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Rule 4566 and South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 1133.

Comment 2C: As these facilities will continue to expand given state directive to divert waste from landfills, I would like to request that the most stringent rules and buffer zones are applied when site is in close proximity to human receptors. BAAQMD should consider latest studies and technologies beyond that currently adopted by SCAQMD or SJVAPCD. Permits should not be issued for sites with recurring public nuisance violations.
WA3: Green Waste Diversion
Issues/Impediments:
Siting of composting facilities has generated controversy in the past over the potential for odors coming from static piles, but modern composting facilities that implement best-available technology and effective operating procedures can reduce the potential of odors reaching homes and businesses. Some new composting facilities use closed systems that can be located within urban areas without disturbing people nearby. Funding for additional compost facilities to handle more green waste could be needed to support implementation of these action items.
Comment 2D: As a resident of a community that had been impacted by compost odor for decades, I would like to see BAAQMD play a more active role to deny permit or require operators to migrate to closed systems to mitigate recurring odor nuisance.
WA4: Recycling and Waste Reduction
Issues/Impediments:
No significant issues or impediments are anticipated due to the voluntary nature of this control measure.

Comment 2E: As a resident of a community that had been impacted by malodor and traffic emissions from recyclery aka materials recovery facilities at Newby Island Resource Recovery Park, the above statement failed to reflect the negative impact of sitting recyclery operations in urban centers. Please revise this section to reflect the odor and traffic impacts, along with appropriate evaluation and tighter regulation added to the implementation actions to protect adjacent communities.

Thank You for the consideration.