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NDEE, EPA Joint Inspections – A Thorough and Efficient Process

During joint inspections, members of the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy and members of the Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 can work together to provide a thorough and efficient inspection process.

In May, an NDEE air compliance and inspection specialist participated in an EPA-led inspection at Trenton Agri Products in Trenton, Nebraska. Trenton Agri Products produces ethanol and associated co-products.

NDEE Air Administrator Kevin Stoner said NDEE and the EPA have worked together on inspections like this for years, and that they provide training opportunities for both parties, but in the last year have worked on how the two agencies could complement each other and provide more value to the inspection.

For example, NDEE Air Compliance Section Supervisor Todd Ellis said the EPA uses equipment NDEE does not have. Two such pieces of equipment, a photo ionization detector and a flame ionization detector, help detect volatile organic compound emissions at regulated facilities.

Stoner said equipment like this allows NDEE to use EPA’s resources. But resource sharing goes both ways. Stoner added that NDEE’s knowledge of facilities can aid the EPA during its inspections.

Some of that knowledge includes Trenton Agri Products’s use of a continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) on their scrubber.

Stoner said without CEMS, facilities that produce air emissions go through stack testing once a year. This testing measures emissions and helps facilities set parameters on how much water and chemicals are needed to control those emissions. These parameters also require record keeping from the facilities.

But with CEMS, Stoner said facilities can monitor emissions in real time and adjust water and chemicals as needed. This eliminates the need for recording some parameters and saves facilities in money and resources.

Trenton Agri Products uses CEMS, but it was a system the EPA was unfamiliar with.

Ralph Scott, plant manager at Trenton Agri Products, said the joint inspection with EPA and NDEE went well.

When EPA representatives had questions about CEMS, “NDEE inspectors were able to support the answers I provided,” Scott said. “I think it went well.”