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EPA Self-Audit and Inspection Guide
Organic Finishing of Metals

Table of Contents

EPA Administered Permit Programs: The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (40CFR122.1 -- 40CFR122.64)

The following is a summary of the referenced federal rules, as published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This information is provided as an aide to help understand the requirements of the federal regulations, as they pertain to specific industrial or manufacturing operations. This information is not provided nor intended to act as a substitute for legal or other professional services. CFR citation numbers for each subpart are indicated, while the full text of the CFR citations can be viewed by clicking HERE and following the directions.

Subpart A -- Definitions and General Program Requirements (40CFR122.1 -- 40CFR122.7)

Purpose and Scope (40CFR122.1)
This section provides an overview of the EPA permitting requirements for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for point source discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States. It also references the minimum requirements for State permitting programs (40CFR123.1 et seq), and EPA procedures for processing permit applications and appeals (40CFR124.1 et seq). Additional regulations on effluent discharges are found in 40CFR116.1 et seq and 40CFR117.1 et seq which identify hazardous substances and their reportable quantities. While release of hazardous substances may be covered under a facility NPDES permit, notification of this release may be required pursuant to 40CFR302.1 et seq.

Exclusions (40CFR122.3)
Facilities that discharge sewage, industrial wastes, and other pollutants into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) are excluded from NPDES permit regulations. While facilities that discharge to a (POTW) are not required to obtain a NPDES permit, they may be required to restrict pollutants in their wastewater to prevent the POTW from violating its NPDES permit. The limits established under a local pretreatment program may be federally enforceable under the authority of the Clean Water Act.

Prohibitions (40CFR122.4)
No NPDES permit may be issued when the conditions of the permit do not provide for compliance with the Clean Water Act or where the applicant has not obtained applicable State authorization. Among other prohibitions, this section establishes that no NPDES permit may be issued that does not ensure compliance with applicable State water quality standards.

Effect of a permit (40CFR122.5)
An NPDES permit outlines the requirements a facility must meet to comply with the Clean Water Act. An NPDES permit does not establish any special privileges or rights, nor does it infringe upon existing rights, or State or local law or regulation. This section also establishes that, for purposes of enforcement, compliance with an NPDES permit during its term constitutes compliance with the applicable provisions of the Clean Water Act.

Continuation of expiring permits (40CFR122.6)
The conditions covered under an EPA-issued NPDES permit remain in effect after it has expired as long as the permittee has submitted a timely and complete renewal application. An EPA-issued NPDES permit will not continue beyond its expiration date if a State is the permitting authority, unless the State allows the EPA-issued permit to continue until a new State-issued permit becomes effective.

Confidentiality of information (40CFR122.7)
A permittee may claim any information contained in a permit application as confidential business information and EPA may not release this information to the public. However, EPA may deny claims for the confidentiality of certain information, such as the permittee's name and address or effluent data.

Subpart B -- Permit Application and Special NPDES Program Requirements
(40CFR122.21 -- 40CFR122.29)

Application for a permit (40CFR122.21)
This section outlines the procedure for obtaining and renewing an NPDES permit. Operators must apply in a timely manner with complete information for an application to be accepted and approved. Information that must be submitted includes the size of discharges, types and concentrations of pollutants, pretreatment available on-site, and the possibility for variance in pollutants and their concentrations.

Signatories to permit applications and reports (40CFR122.22)
Signature authority for permit applications and reports required by permits varies for facilities depending on the ownership of the facility.

General permits (40CFR122.28)
This section describes the conditions under which the EPA can issue a general permit for a geographical area. To be covered under a general permit, a discharger must submit a notice of intent (NOI) to the EPA. Under certain criteria, a discharger covered under a general permit may be required by the EPA to apply for an individual permit.

New sources and new discharges (40CFR122.29)
This section defines the criteria for new source determination, discusses when an environmental impact statement (EIS) is required, and lists the effects of compliance with new source performance standards.

Subpart C -- Permit Conditions (40CFR122.41 -- 40CFR122.50)

Conditions applicable to all permits (40CFR122.41)
Detailed discussion of the conditions applicable to all permits, including complying with all permit conditions, providing all information as requested, allowing inspection of a facility, and reporting monitoring results.

Additional conditions applicable specific categories of NPDES permits (40CFR122.42)
For existing manufacturing and commercial discharges, the EPA must be notified of any activity that results in the discharge of any toxic pollutant at concentrations that exceeds the highest notification levels, including those discharges that occur on a routine or a non-routine basis. For routine discharges, the notification level is 100 µg/l, unless otherwise noted. For non-routine discharges, the notification level is 500 µg/l, unless otherwise noted.

Establishing permit conditions (40CFR122.43)
The EPA can establish additional permit conditions as needed on a case-by-case basis to assure compliance with all requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and regulations.

Establishing limitations, standards, and other permit conditions (40CFR122.44)
Discusses applicable permit conditions, including the limits for release of toxic pollutants, restrictions to maintain existing water quality, improvements based on technology available for effluent treatment, and adjustments that may be required as water use definitions change.

Calculating NPDES permit conditions (40CFR122.45)
Unless otherwise provided, each outfall or discharge point at a permitted facility will have effluent limitations, standards, and prohibitions established. For metals, these shall be expressed in terms of total recoverable metal, unless otherwise stated.

Duration of permits (40CFR122.46)
Unless otherwise noted, an NPDES permit will be effective for a term not to exceed five years.

Schedules of compliance (40CFR122.47)
A schedule of compliance may be specified in a permit to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and other regulations, as outlined in this section.

Requirements for recording and reporting monitoring results (40CFR122.48)
Discusses permit requirements for monitoring equipment and methods, required monitoring, and required reporting.

Considerations under Federal law (40CFR122.49)
Several Federal laws may affect issuance of a NPDES permit, including The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, The National Historic Preservation Act, The Coastal Zone Management Act, The Endangered Species Act, The National Environmental Policy Act, and The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act. When any of these applicable law requires particular permit conditions or the denial of a permit, those requirements must also be followed.

Disposal of pollutants into wells, into publicly owned treatment works, or by land application (40CFR122.50)
If part of a discharger's process wastewater is being discharged into a well, a POTW, or by land application, applicable effluent standards and limitations for the discharge in an NPDES permit will be adjusted.

Subpart D -- Transfer, Modification, Revocation, Reissuance, and Termination of Permits
 Permits (40CFR122.61 -- 40CFR122.64)

Transfer of permits (40CFR122.61)
A permit can be transferred by modification, or a permit can be transferred automatically if the EPA is notified 30 days in advance.

Modification, revocation, or reissuance of permits (40CFR122.62)
Causes for modification include material alterations or substitutions, new information, new regulations, changes in the compliance schedule, or to establish notification levels. Also, a permit can be revoked and reissued if it is to be transferred.

Minor modification of permits (40CFR122.63)
EPA, with consent of the permittee, may make minor modifications to a permit, including correcting typographical errors, a need for more frequent monitoring or reporting, changing an interim compliance date, allowing for a change in ownership, changing a construction schedule, or deleting a point source outfall no longer used.

Termination of permits (40CFR122.64)
A permit will be terminated or denied renewal in instances of noncompliance, failure to disclose relevant facts, or danger to human health or the environment.

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