Reissuance and Administrative Extension of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Stormwater Associated with Mining Activities (BMP GP-104)
[51 Pa.B. 241]
[Saturday, January 9, 2021]
Under The Clean Streams Law (35 P.S. §§ 691.1—691.1001), the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C.A. §§ 1251—1388) and 25 Pa. Code Chapters 92a and 102 (relating to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting, monitoring and compliance; and erosion and sediment control), the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) by this notice announces its intent to propose modifications to, and reissue, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Associated with Mining Activities (BMP GP-104). By this notice, the Department is also announcing the extension of the existing BMP GP-104, which is set to expire on February 12, 2021, until the reissued permit is published as final.
Under 25 Pa. Code § 92a.32 (relating to stormwater discharges) (incorporating by reference 40 CFR 122.26(a), (b), (c)(1), (d), (e)(1), (3)—(9) and (f)-(g) (relating to storm water discharges (applicable to State NPDES programs, see § 123.25)), an NPDES permit is required for discharges associated with a mining operation which are composed entirely of stormwater. A mining operation is required to have an individual NPDES permit or coverage under a general NPDES permit if the site has expected or potential discharges of stormwater runoff. For both coal and noncoal mining operations where the only potential discharge will be composed entirely of stormwater, the discharges are appropriately controlled under a general permit. Under 25 Pa. Code § 92a.54 (relating to general permits), a general permit is justified for the following reasons: 1) these mining operations are substantially similar in scope and operations including use of common Best Management Practices (BMP) for erosion and sedimentation control; 2) they would potentially discharge the same type of pollutant (that is, suspended solids); 3) they would require the same effluent limitations or operating conditions in the form of a set of commonly-used BMPs; and 4) these operations, individually and cumulatively, do not have the potential to cause significant adverse environmental impact from stormwater discharges.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has required extensive revisions to BMP GP-104 that will impact existing and potential operators. The proposed modifications to BMP GP-104 include the following:
• Expiration date of coverage—Coverage under this draft general permit would expire on the date the master General Permit expires. Coverage will no longer extend for 5 years from the date the operator is granted coverage. Those operators who currently have an authorization with existing coverage past February 2021 will receive a notice when the reissued permit has been published as final that will provide these operators the option to certify their acceptance of the reissued permit or apply for an individual NPDES permit. If they certify acceptance of the reissued permit, their coverage expiration date will revert to the expiration date of the reissued permit (2026). No additional fee will be required. New or reapplication for coverage (including renewal) will be issued under the 2021 reissuance of the permit and will all have the same 2026 expiration date regardless of the date coverage goes into effect. The Department is developing a process for easy renewal of coverage for those operators that need to continue coverage under the general permit after 2026.
• Use in impaired watersheds—This general permit can be used in impaired watersheds with some qualifications. No point source discharges are allowed to streams impaired for sediment-related causes under BMP GP-104. An applicant whose activities occur in a watershed designated as impaired for sediment-related causes will be required to implement nondischarging BMPs to account for all potential discharge. If the applicant cannot do this, they must obtain an individual NPDES permit. Additional content has been added to the Notice of Intent for this requirement.
• Effluent limits—Limits were changed to eliminate the 30-day average and Daily Maximum. Only an instantaneous maximum limit is included. This change was made to reflect operator sampling conducted mostly as a result of precipitation events where averages over several days or weeks could not be calculated. Additional requirements have been added to require minimized exposure of manufacturing, processing and material storage areas (including loading and unloading, storage, disposal, cleaning, maintenance and fueling operations) to rain, snow, snowmelt and runoff in order to minimize pollutant discharges.
• Standard conditions and definitions were updated to reflect consistency with the other revisions or current requirements.
• Applicability is extended to all noncoal general permits and to government-financed construction contracts/projects to reclaim coal mining areas.
To access the draft BMP GP-104 and related documents, visit www.depgreenport.state.pa.us/elibrary/ (select ''Permit and Authorization Packages,'' then ''Mining Programs,'' then ''GP-104 Stormwater NPDES 5600-PM-BMP0388'').
Interested persons may submit written comments on the proposed modifications to and renewal of BMP GP-104 General Permit and associated documents through Monday, February 8, 2021. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted. All comments, including comments submitted by e-mail, must include the commentator's name and address. Commentators are strongly encouraged to submit comments using the Department's online eComment tool at www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment or by e-mail to email@example.com. Written comments can be mailed to the Policy Office, Department of Environmental Protection, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063. Use ''General Permit BMP GP-104'' as the subject line in written communication.
Questions regarding BMP GP-104 can be directed to Sharon Hill, Bureau of Mining Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (717) 787-6842.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 21-53. Filed for public inspection January 8, 2021, 9:00 a.m.]
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