Permitting and Inspections
At the center of the air program is the inspection of companies that are subject to the federal Clean Air Act, ensuring compliance with what some people refer to as "outdoor air" quality. Companies receive unannounced annual inspections from the JCDHE staff to determine compliance.
Companies that are subject to air quality regulations under the Clean Air Act have their operations reviewed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. KDHE thoroughly reviews all processes and operations at the company's facility and determines the need for a permit and what specific regulations apply at that site. Some specific types of permits, usually for larger sources, are put on public notice to allow the public to have input. (All KDHE Air Quality Public Notices can be viewed on the Public Notice page)
The completed permit will contain specific details that restrict the way a facility must operate in order to comply with the regulations. This insures that the facility's emissions will have the smallest impact on the area residents as well as the environment itself.
Our department acts as the designated legal agent for the State of Kansas. After the permit is issued by KDHE,. JCDHE conducts unannounced inspections at these facilities to determine compliance with air regulations and permits. We meet with company personnel and discuss and review records, existing operations, and any future facility modifications.
The JCDHE staff works to educate company personnel about the regulations affecting their company and why these rules are needed. In the event of a violation, companies found to have relatively minor compliance problems may receive a letter from JCDHE requiring them to correct the situation within a specified period of time. If the inspection reveals, however, that serious or repeated violations have occurred, all information is forwarded to KDHE for possible enforcement action. In some circumstances, the EPA can also initiate enforcement action.
Air Quality Sources in Johnson County
Air quality regulations may require that a company first obtain a Construction Permit/Approval from KDHE before the site is constructed. This is not to be confused with a construction permit issued by municipal building codes. Types of sources that can be subject to the air quality regulations vary, but here are some examples:
- Diesel engines for electrical generation
- Painting of miscellaneous metal parts
- Printing (lithographic, flexographic, rotogravure)
- Rock crushing
Pollution Control Equipment
Industries in Johnson County may be required to control the emissions created by their processes. There are different types of control equipment to help them meet this requirement. Different equipment is used by different types of industry. In some cases, more than one form of control is used by a company. Pollution controls can range from simple and relatively cheap to complex and very expensive. Here are three examples:
- Afterburners which effectively "burn" emissions often found at printing facilities.
- Baghouses which filter and collect particulates in asphalt plants.
- Ordinary water spray bars usually used in a rock crushing operation.
Some types of control require a change in the manufacturing process. For instance, companies that use oil-based paints or inks would change to water-based paints or inks.
This is one of several rock quarry operations within the county. Water spray bars are located at various points through the system to control the dust emissions. This is one of the least expensive methods to control emissions, which in this case is the rock dust or "particulates."
These two afterburners are examples of air pollution control equipment. Afterburners effectively "burn" the emissions and are often found at printing operations. Some use natural gas as a fuel, which can be quite expensive. More companies are switching to catalytic afterburners which use natural gas to get started, but then use the volatile fumes as fuel, thereby reducing the cost of operation. These units are located at a printing facility in Johnson County and were both operating at the time the photo was taken.
This is one of several hot mix asphalt concrete plants located within Johnson County. The pollutant of concern is particulates, just like the rock crushing operations. This plant, however, uses a "baghouse" (yellow arrow) to control emissions, which are exhausted through the stack (red arrow). The baghouse has numerous chambers with "socks" inside that collect the particulate. This is more effective than water spray but is also considerably more expensive.