24 sites may be exempt from ORCAA’s registration program due to policy change


Twenty-four sites may now be exempted from the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency’s (ORCAA) registration program after its board of directors amended its policy on Wednesday, April 10.

The board decided to exempt small gas stations that can demonstrate that the gasoline throughput of the facility has been less than 50,000 gallons each year for the last three years. Eligible facility owners may submit a written request to ORCAA for the exemption.

Olympic Region Clean Air Agency administers and enforces the state and federal Clean Air Acts for Thurston County and other nearby counties, including Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, and Pacific. All buildings, structures, or facilities that may emit air contaminants must register for the agency’s registration program for record-keeping and compliance verification, and so that the agency can evaluate the effectiveness of their air pollution control measures.

With the new amendment, the agency’s rules now list a total of 91 case exemptions from its registration program.

ORCAA Compliance Manager Mike Shults said that the new exemption will reduce the agency’s revenue by $7,500 but the loss will be offset by the agency’s staff not needing to manually visit the site.

The agency received two public comments, one in favor and one against, before the agency passed the new rule. ORCAA also opened a public hearing on Wednesday, but no one from the public was present to make additional comments.

The Port Angeles School District wrote a letter supporting the amendment as the current rule does not allow them to be exempted from registration. Karen Ross, the school district's director of transportation, explained that they must order a minimum of at least 10,000 gallons to avoid a delivery charge as they are in a rural area.

The letter against the amendment was from Maxine Dunkelman of MaxTile Murals and Olympia Mountaineers Library who wrote that smaller gas facilities do not maintain sufficient equipment to not become a potential source of air pollution.

“Facilities with a throughput of 50,000 gallons per year or less should not be exempted from registration. Often smaller facilities do not maintain their air pollution reduction equipment or emergency plans sufficiently to not be or become a potential source of pollution, especially for those who are using the facility,” Dunkelman wrote.

Shults told the committee that small gas station owners would still need to follow ORCAA’s rules, as laid out in Rule 8.12 in the agency’s list of regulations. However, owners will just be exempted from needing to pay the registration fee, which is evaluated based on projected emissions.

“We can still go out to periodically look. We have that right to inspect. And you know, it may be something we put into our program that we do check those periodically to make sure,” Shults said.


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  • mtndancer

    If the loss of revenue is met by "not needing to manually visit the site" of a small station, where's the enforcement? It sounds as though being a small gas station is just a way to circumvent the rules. And if I have a station that has a throughput of 50,000 gallons or less, isn't this a great way to ramp up and be several years free of regulation? People will do whatever it takes to make money, often without regard for the public's well-being. Dirty air is life-threatening to some people. Please reconsider. Thank you.

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