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CARB complaint regarding
BAAQMD Permitting Practices

Cal Environmental Protection Agency
Air Resources Board
Enforcement Division
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
April 19, 2016

Also view related issues...

West Berkeley Zoning and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
Addendum to Complaint filed over BAAQMD permit practices, DSS-2016-503 / 4942 May 11, 2016

Comments to revision of PSC Synthetic Minor Operating Permit (SMOP) filed as a second addendum to the BAAQMD Permitting Practices Complaint No. DSS-2016-503 / 4942 August 15, 2016

• Pacific Steel Casting Street plan - 2006 Footprint

• BAAQMD "Air Monitor" Press Conference
near Pacific Steel Casting , Berkeley, January 8, 2008

Berkeley Mixed use housing policyIn September 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) received a formal request to investigate the permitting process of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and more specifically, to address the regulatory actions that have allowed Pacific Steel Casting (PSC), located at 1333 - 2nd Street, Berkeley, to illegally evade regulatory compliance with Title V and to be in violation of their Synthetic Minor Operating Permit (SMOP) for nearly a quarter of a century.

Whether by regulatory negligence, the discretion of the air district’s Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO) or simple political accommodation, PSC was allowed to bifurcate its permit into two SMOPs. This allowed the Berkeley foundry to falsely represent its emissions as though it were two smaller, independent companies. It also allowed PSC to profit from this BAAQMD-sanctioned downgrade. Of course, these illegal actions by the air district came at the expense of detriment to the surrounding west Berkeley community.

The lower reporting numbers for PSC’s two SMOP permits were quite effective in shielding PSC from regulatory demands to make more adequate upgrades to its three facilities or to expand the foundry’s capacity to monitor its emissions. It has also propped up the BAAQMD's insistence that the company was operating within the bounds of the law. From the air district's perspective, PSC had become nearly too small to pollute.

2005 Title V Violation

The first time the US EPA was asked to investigate the downgrade of Title V requirements for PSC's operating permit occurred in 2005. The US EPA responded to the complaint and directed BAAQMD to consolidate the permits as required by law. (See Attachment 1.) Unfortunately, the SMOPs were never consolidated by BAAQMD nor did the US EPA follow up on their request to the air district and PSC to consolidate the permits.

In 2006, there was a public challenge to PSC’s operating permit and its permitted emissions limits. In the subsequent court settlement, PSC agreed to make upgrades to its facility that would result in at least a two-ton reduction in emissions levels. (See Attachment 2.) However, after 2008 and the completion of the upgrades, PSC's emissions began to rise. This swing upward in emissions volumes was in direct violation of PSC’s signed court agreement. Clear evidence of this rise in emissions comes from PSC's annual state emissions inventory reporting. (See Attachment 3.)

The lawsuit implied that PSC was very close to being reevaluated as a Major Facility under Title V. However, the foundry's owners were able to dodge any regulatory changes in the foundry’s permit with their promise that PSC would reduce emissions. Because PSC had not been forced to consolidate their SMOP at that time, this became the contributing force to the district’s inability to monitor their permits.<MORE>

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