Since the 1970s, the US Environmental Protection Agency has regulated point sources of contamination to surface water through the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Since 1994, the NPDES permitting program has also included a robust set of requirements for controlling and reporting discharges of stormwater from city water systems, construction sites, and industrial facilities. Complying with the stormwater discharge program can be difficult and expensive. Qualifying for the “No Exposure” exclusion can save you money, time, and frustration.
Who Is Subject to Stormwater Permitting?
Facilities subject to NPDES permitting for “stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity” (40 CFR 122.26(b)(14)) may be able to get relief from the permitting requirements if they can show that the site has no exposure of industrial materials to stormwater. “No exposure” means that “all industrial materials or activities are protected by a storm-resistant shelter to prevent exposure to rain, snow, snowmelt, and/or runoff.” [64 FR 68722]
Qualifying for the Exclusion
To be eligible for the “No Exposure” exclusion, the operator must:
Provide storm-resistant shelter for all industrial materials and activities;
Submit the signed certification to the EPA every five years;
Allow the EPA to inspect the facility to determine compliance with the “No Exposure” conditions; and
Allow the EPA to make public the “No Exposure” inspection reports. [40 CFR 122.26(g)]
The Certification Process
Facilities can apply for the No Exposure Certification, or NOE, through the EPA’s Electronic Notice of Intent, or eNOI, system. Certification of the NOE must be made by a “responsible corporate officer” or duly authorized representative. In the eNOI system, this person is called the “Certifying Official.” Each Certifying Official must have an account in the eNOI system. The EPA has issued instructions on how to create that account and how to certify or modify the NOE.
In June of 2000, the EPA issued a guidance document that discussed the “No Exposure” exclusion and how to go about certifying that the facility qualifies. This document predates the eNOI system as well as the adoption of the “No Exposure” exclusion into most State programs, but it still includes valuable information regarding definitions and frequently asked questions.
NPDES State Variations
The Federal “No Exposure” exclusion [40 CFR 122.26(g)] applies only in areas where the US EPA is the permitting authority. Many states have been granted NPDES permitting authority and therefore have their own forms and procedures for certifying a condition of No Exposure. The US EPA’s website does not have a comprehensive list of links to State No Exposure forms. Check your State regulations or State EPA website for further details.
While the requirements to apply for the “No Exposure” exclusion vary from state to state, the benefits of qualifying are largely the same nationwide. By qualifying and applying for this exclusion, facilities can lighten their regulatory burden with less paperwork, increased flexibility, and greater protection of surrounding waters.
Learn more about NPDES permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act and your responsibilities for compliance with other major EPA air, water, and chemical regulations. The interactive, two-day Complete Environmental Regulations Workshop is presented nationwide and covers core elements of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, SDWA, TSCA, FIFRA, CERCLA/Superfund, and more. Discover what you must monitor, report, and keep on file to ensure compliance and keep your facility running smoothly.