Late yesterday afternoon, PRO-DAIRY staff spoke with NMPF legal counsel. There is a lot going on to address a range of concerns generated by EPA’s emission reporting deadline under CERCLA that was announced on 10-26-17. EPA has filed a motion requesting that the court extend the stay on its mandate to end the 2008 exemption, which will trigger the reporting requirement. Specifically, the court asked for the November 15, 2017 deadline to be extended at least through January 17, 2018 to give EPA a chance to submit its interpretation that EPCRA 304 reporting is not necessary to a rulemaking process and to allow it to refine the CERCLA reporting form. This will also give farms time to understand the reporting requirements. For this reason, NMPF recommends that farms do NOT call the National Response Center (NRC) at least until November 15 and, then only if the court does not extend the deadline. Reportedly, some dairy farms in the US have called and this has prompted unannounced response by police and/or fire departments.
In the meantime, farms can discuss an approach with legal counsel and may consider an estimation tool to use when the time comes. EPA has indicated that a good faith estimate of emissions includes use of a range of methods or tools. EPA has provided, and NMPF also supports, using the emissions estimation factors for ammonia and hydrogen sulfide that are found on the last page of the document at the Dairy Operation – Continuous Release Report Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) link.
Using the high daily emissions factor from the link above, it would take 1,428 cows to trigger the 100 pounds of ammonia threshold. The advantage of the document is ease of use (one high and low threshold factor for total herd count) and it also includes an emissions factor for hydrogen sulfide. Depending on farm goals and risk assessment, producers may consider estimating ammonia emissions by using the University of Nebraska worksheet (also provided on the EPA website), or the PRO-DAIRY dairy specific ammonia worksheet based on the University of Nebraska tool.
When we last visited the hydrogen sulfide emissions topic in 2009, we concluded that it would take several thousand cows to trigger the 100 pound daily emission threshold. As a result, in any situation we can imagine, ammonia emissions should trigger the reporting threshold well before hydrogen sulfide.