One method groups are considering for monitoring sand mining and reclamation is called EPA Method 9, Visible Determination of the Opacity of Emissions from Stationary Sources. This allows individuals to use visual assessment to monitor and report facilities’ emissions that obscure air’s transparency or line of sight. This lack of transparency is called opacity. Monitoring consists of taking 24 visual observations over six minutes and averaging the results. If the visual opacity is higher than the regulated limit for a certain percentage of that time, the site would be in violation. EPA Method 9 violations warrant an enforcement response.
According to Wisconsin’s Administrative Code NR 415.076, “emissions from activities not associated with processing equipment, including but not limited to roads, other areas used by haul trucks, storage piles and drilling, shall be controlled so that visible emissions do not exceed 5% opacity at the source.” If you see dust in the air, visible emissions are likely above 10% opacity. To maintain certification for Method 9 reporting, people must pass the field certification test every 6 months. EPA Method 22 is the same as Method 9 except it can be conducted by uncertified observers, although familiarity with Method 9 training materials is suggested. Method 9 carries more weight for reporting and prompting enforcement.
Image credit: Mary Kenosian, 11/05/2011 at Superior Silica Sands, town of Cooks Valley, Chippewa County.