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Quarries - Air Quality Permitting

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits on the concentration of pollutants in the ambient air (the air we breathe. The CAA also gives the EPA the authority to limit pollutant emissions given off from specific industrial sources like chemical plants, utilities and steel mills. Individual states or tribes may have more stringent air pollution requirements/limits than those set by the EPA. In South Carolina, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control's (DHEC's) Bureau of Air Quality (BAQ) is authorized by the EPA to implement and enforce federal air quality standards.

DHEC issues and enforces permits under the authority of the CAASouth Carolina Pollution Control Act, and SC Regulation 61-62 Air Pollution Control Regulations and Standards.

See an interactive map of quarries.

Which air pollutants are regulated?

Criteria pollutants are those pollutants that are common and emitted in relatively large quantities by a variety of sources, such as vehicles and industrial activities. The EPA uses these pollutants as indicators of air quality. The regulated criteria pollutants are:

  • Particulate Matter (PM), PM less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10), PM less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5)
  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
  • Sulfur Dioxides (SO2)
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Ozone (as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and NOx)
  • Lead (Pb)
The entire state of South Carolina is currently attaining all of the EPA's health-based national air quality standards.

Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) are those pollutants that cause or may cause cancer or other serious health effects, or may have adverse environmental and ecological effects. Visit the EPA website for more information on HAPs at www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/pollsour.html.

South Carolina's air toxics list includes the federal HAPS list along with seventy-one (71) additional air pollutants.

See SC's toxic air pollutants regulation.

What quarry operations are subject to review by BAQ?

Common operations and equipment found at quarries that are subject to review include: crushers, screens, conveyors, material transfer operations, internal combustion engines, emergency generators, storage piles, and roads.

What types of air permits are issued for quarries?

An air permit is a legal document that details how a facility complies with state and federal air pollution regulations. The conditions of the permit are based on:

  • The regulated air pollutants that are emitted from processes or equipment,
  • The type of manufacturing process in use, and
  • Applicable laws

The following types of permits are issued for quarry operations:

Construction Permit: A construction permit is required for any person who plans to construct, alter, or add to a source of air pollution, including the installation of any air pollution control device. The construction permit must be issued before any construction-related activities occur at the site. These activities include, but are not limited to, an increase in production, change in raw materials, or modification to existing equipment. The construction permit allows for the construction and start of operation of equipment.

Depending on a facility's operation and/or emissions, the BAQ may require one of the following construction permits:

The BAQ provides an expedited permit application review option when applying for an air permit. Most minor, synthetic minor, and PSD construction projects are currently eligible for expedited review.

Operating Permit: Any source that is required to obtain an air quality construction permit must obtain an operating permit when the new or altered source is placed into operation. The BAQ requires certification that the construction covered by the application has been completed in accordance with the specifications in the construction permit issued. For quarry operations, the BAQ issues the following types of operating permits based on the type of construction permit issued:

General operating permits are under development for this industry sector. General permits cover facilities that have similar operations, limit their air emission below the "major" threshold, and provide standardized permit conditions providing consistency across industry sectors.

What is the permit application review process?

Ambient Air Analysis

As part of the air permitting process, facilities in South Carolina are required to demonstrate that the emissions coming from their sources will not cause or contribute to a violation of any applicable state or federal ambient air quality standards. Air dispersion modeling, or other analyses, are used as a means of showing compliance with this requirement. An air dispersion model is a set of mathematical equations that relates the release of air pollutants from emission sources to the corresponding concentration of pollutants in the ambient air. The facility's location, emissions, and the quality of the local ambient air are some of the factors considered in the modeling demonstration.

How does the public provide input/comments?

Draft permits that limit air emissions below the major threshold are public noticed to allow interested parties the opportunity to provide comments. The public notice, the draft air permit, and the draft statement of basis are available on DHEC's Public Notice website during the comment period, which typically lasts 30 days. Comments may be submitted through U.S. Mail, email or by fax. All written comments received during the public comment period will be considered in the decision-making process.

Comments should address technical aspects of a draft air permit, such as type of compliance monitoring, and/or record-keeping requirements, pollution control devices, technical inaccuracies, and incomplete/inaccurate emission estimates.

Many community members often have other concerns, such as noise, traffic, local zoning laws, property values, and indoor air pollution. While these concerns are not regulated by air quality permit rules and therefore cannot be considered in the air permitting process, DHECencourages community members to have discussions with facility representatives and local officials to address these concerns.

Citizens are also encouraged to attend any scheduled public meetings and/or public hearings regarding a draft air permit to become more involved in the process. A public meeting is a less formal event where the public, DHEC staff and the facility interact so that questions about the project can be answered. If there is significant interest, a public hearing may be held to allow the public to provide oral comments on the technical merits of the draft permit, which will be formally recorded for the legal record.

DHEC's decision becomes the final agency decision 15 calendar days after notice of the decision has been mailed or otherwise sent to the applicant, permittee, licensee and affected persons who have requested in writing to be notified. Should the applicant, permittee, licensee, or affected person wish to appeal the Department Decision, a timely written request for final review must be filed with the Clerk to the Board. In order to be timely, a request for final review must be received by the Clerk of the Board within 15 calendar days after notice of the decision has been mailed or otherwise sent to persons entitled to receive notice. Click Notice of Appeal Procedure to review the complete procedure.

How is permit compliance evaluated?

Facility inspections are conducted on a periodic basis by our staff. If deemed necessary by the agency, additional inspections can be performed.

Facilities are required to comply with all conditions found in their permit. To minimize dust from process operations, truck traffic, storage piles, and other fugitive dust sources at quarries, the facility will develop and implement a site-wide plan addressing these emissions. The plan will include the use of water trucks or other approved dust control systems. Records will be maintained that document all actions taken to comply with the approved plan.