On March 28, 2011, EPA promulgated minimum competency requirements for firms performing Part 75 emission test programs (Protocol Gas Verification Program and Minimum Competency Requirements for Air Emission Testing, FR 76, No. 59, 17288-17325). In short, the rule requires that source testing firms – “air emission testing bodies or AETBs” – conform to ASTM D 7036-04, Standard Practice of Competence of Air Emission Testing Bodies beginning March 27, 2012.
EPA has identified AETB submittal information that it believes would reflect the presence of a quality management system that conforms to ASTM D 7036-04. The information is divided into two categories as described below:
Items the Source must request from the AETB:
1. Certification that as of the time of testing the AETB is operating in conformance with ASTM D 7036-04.
2. The name, telephone number and email address of the AETB.
3. The name of each Qualified Individual on site.
4. For the reference methods performed by the Qualified Individual, the date that the Qualified Individual took and passed the exam.
5. The name and email address of each qualification exam provider.
Items that EPA suggests that the Source may find useful to request from the AETB:
1. The AETB’s Quality Manual (note that the final rule allows the AETB to declare the Quality Manual “confidential business information”).
2. Results of any internal audits performed during the preceding 12 months.
3. Performance data, as defined in ASTM D 7036-04 and collected by the AETB, including corrective actions implemented, during the 12-month period through the previous calendar quarter.
4. Training records for all on-site technical personnel for the 12-month period through the previous calendar quarter.
Although ASTM D 7036-04 stresses the importance of a test plan or test protocol for each test, EPA has not identified this as a submittal requirement; however, a test plan is a requirement of ASTM D 7036-04 and conforming AETBs must prepare them.
AETBs may satisfy the certification requirement by providing a certificate of accreditation or interim accreditation from an accrediting organization or they may self-certify with a signed statement from AETB management. Importantly, EPA allows an AETB to limit its scope of ASTM D 7036-04 conformance to Part 75 test programs.
Sources that encounter problems with AETB submittals can report the problems to EPA. If EPA agrees the AETB’s submittal is incomplete or inaccurate, EPA will provide the AETB a description of submittal deficiencies to be remedied. The AETB will have 30 days to satisfactorily respond to the identified issues. If the AETB does not respond satisfactorily, EPA may list the “offending AETB” on EPA Web sites. We have seen minimum competency requirements for AETBs wax and wane over the past few years.
Although this rule still includes provisions that allow for discontent, it does address many of the concerns that AETBs and sources have raised since it first appeared. It looks like this version is here to stay and that now is the time for AETBs to fnalize their conformance efforts.