What does a biodiesel plant environmental expert do? First, let’s discuss biodiesel production. As people search for alternative energy resources, the popularity of biodiesel fuel continues to increase. Biodiesel is diesel fuel derived from non-petroleum-based sources such as biomass plant oils, animal fats, or refuse that are commonly obtained from waste or co-product streams of other processes. Biodiesel production plants consist of complex extraction and refining processes with air, water, and waste streams, which must comply with environmental regulations and standards. Environmental experts help manage risks and assist with permitting and compliance activities to meet construction and operational goals of biodiesel plants.
A biodiesel plant environmental expert is someone who has a background in environmental permitting, compliance, and sustainability paired with knowledge of the biodiesel industry and production processes. Educational background commonly includes a Bachelor or Master of Science, with a specialty in environmental engineering, chemical engineering, or related field. Environmental experts have experience in environmental site assessments, risk assessments, air quality, hazardous waste, materials storage, spill prevention, solid waste, stormwater, and wastewater permitting and compliance. These experts are well-versed in state-specific environmental regulations and standards as well as those at a federal and local levels. Additionally, environmental experts within the biodiesel industry understand the specific federal, state, and local regulations which typically correspond to biodiesel production processes such as solvent extraction, organic chemical manufacturing, and organic liquids distribution based on previous project experience and partnerships. Environmental experts provide the necessary bridge between regulating agencies and the owner or operator during initial construction and throughout the life of the plant.
Environmental experts offer a wide range of services to clients within the biodiesel industry. Key services provided include preparing applications and obtaining permits to authorize construction and operation of a new biofuel plant. Pre-construction permitting considerations may include Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), New Source Review (NSR) or Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) air permitting, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)/State Disposal System (SDS) construction stormwater permitting and industrial stormwater/wastewater discharge authorizations. Permit applications include technical analyses such as conducting dispersion modeling, emission calculations, analyses of plant discharges, and regulatory review. Pre-operating tasks include but are not limited to air emissions permitting, industrial stormwater permitting with preparation of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan (SPCC), Facility Response Plan (FRP), Hazardous Waste Generator ID/Licensing, and Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) reporting. A skilled environmental expert also can aid during on-going environmental management involving preparation of permit compliance plans, testing plans and coordination, and emissions inventory and deviation reporting. Experts can also provide insight into other operational and programmatic areas where data overlaps such as sustainability and health and safety. Not only do biodiesel environmental experts assist clients in navigating complex environmental regulations throughout the lifecycle of their facilities, they partner with the organizations to assure compliance and business success into the future to keep operations sustainable.
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