Storm Water Compliance Series: No Exposure Certification for Exclusion from NPDES Storm Water Permitting

Saturday, November 21, 2015

No Exposure Certification for Exclusion from NPDES Storm Water Permitting

This is the third article in PSARA’s Storm Water Compliance Series.

Compliance with any state’s storm water permitting requirements is most easily achieved by applying for a No Exposure Certification. This certification is a conditional certification—it is not an exemption, and it must be updated/resubmitted every five years. Additionally, each facility in a given company must apply for the No Exposure Certification as it is facility-specific. Below is an example from Ohio of the number of facilities issued No Exposure Certifications over the past several years.

Per the application form, “A condition of no exposure exists at an industrial facility when all industrial materials and activities are protected by a storm-resistant shelter to prevent exposure to rain, snow, snowmelt, and/or runoff.” To qualify for a No Exposure Certification, a facility must meet eleven criteria; these criteria are included below in italics, with PSARA’s interpretation bolded below each item.

In the present and in the foreseeable future, none of the following eleven areas or materials may  be exposed to precipitation.

1. Areas where the facility uses, stores, or cleans industrial machinery or equipment, and areas where residuals from using, storing or cleaning industrial machinery or equipment remain.

2. Materials or residuals on the ground or in storm water inlets from spills/leaks.

3. Materials or products from past industrial activity.

4. Material handling equipment (except adequately maintained vehicles).

5. Materials or products during loading/unloading or transporting activities.

6. Materials or products stored outdoors (except for final products intended for outside use [e.g., new cars] where exposure to storm water does not result in the discharge of pollutants).

7. Materials contained in open, deteriorated or leaking storage drums, barrels, tanks, and similar containers.

8. Materials or products handled/stored on roads or railways owned or maintained by the discharger.

9. Waste material (except waste in covered, non-leaking containers [e.g., dumpsters]).

10. Application or disposal of process wastewater (unless otherwise permitted).

11. Particulate matter or visible deposits of residuals from roof stacks and/or vents not otherwise regulated (i.e., under an air quality control permit) and evident in the storm water outflow.

Keep in mind that it is typically worth attempting to qualify for this exclusion, because the permitting process will still require you to identify these areas of concern and address them through Best Management Practices (BMPs).    It will be much more cost-effective, to address any concerns proactively and avoid the permitting process if possible. 

If it is not possible for your facility to qualify for the No Exposure Exclusion, be sure to check back for our fourth and final article in this series for a discussion of common findings during storm water enforcement inspections and helpful suggestions for improving your compliance.