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EPA Sets Health-Based Brick Kiln Emissions Limits
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On September 24, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed a final rule setting national emissions standards for brick and structural clay product manufacturing facilities, including health-based emissions limits for three hazardous air pollutants, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride and chlorine from brick tunnel kilns.  The final rule covers the industries that manufacture structural and other types of bricks, as well as makers of ceramic floor tile and sanitary ware such as toilets. 


The final rule set health-based limits for hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen chloride emissions from sanitary ware tunnel kilns and ceramic tile roller kilns.  In addition to the health-based limits, the agency's rule also includes maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for non-mercury air toxics and mercury from brick and structural clay manufacturing facilities and work practice standards that apply during periods of startup and shutdown of tunnel kilns.


EPA set the health-based limits over the objections of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, which argued in comments that doing so would be a violation of the Clean Air Act for not setting technology-based MACT limits.  EPA said in the final rule that it disagreed with the arguments that the agency didn't have the authority to set health based standards under Section 112(d)(4) of the Clean Air Act.  The agency also said it disagreed with arguments that its decision to set health-based standards is inconsistent with agency decision in past rulemakings.


EPA previously set national emissions standards for brick, structural clay and clay ceramics manufacturers in 2003. However, in 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated those standards after finding the EPA's approach violated the Clean Air Act and resulted in standards that were too lax.  The agency estimated that its final rule will reduce nationwide air toxics emissions by about 375 tons per year, and provide secondary benefits through reduced emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and other pollutants.


The brick and structural clay portion of the rule is expected to cost $64.6 million in capital costs and $24.6 million in annual costs.  The agency estimated that the average national brick price is expected to increase by 1.8 percent due to the standards and between two facilities and four facilities are at “significant risk of closure.”  There are currently 90 facilities in the brick and structural clay products source category that are considered major sources of hazardous air pollutants.  EPA expects 21 of those facilities will become synthetic area sources rather than comply with the standards, while the 69 remaining facilities will be subject to the standards.


The standards will go into effect 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.  A prepublication copy of the final rule is available at
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