BWON and NSPS QQQ Compliance

40 CFR Part 61, Subpart FF (Benzene Waste Operations NESHAPs or ‘BWON’) and 40 CFR Part 60, Subpart QQQ (NSPS QQQ) are two notable federal emissions standards which often present unique challenges which reflect their dual nature both focusing on the regulation of air emissions generated by wastewater systems.  Despite being promulgated more than 25 years ago, BWON and NSPS QQQ are complex regulations which continue to be a source of confusion to many in the regulated community.  With this confusion, there is the potential for risk – risk of regulatory enforcement, fines, and punitive Consent Decrees.  In many cases, folks may not even know where they stand with relation to compliance with these rules.  They may be doing too much, or too little, with little understanding of whether their BWON and QQQ compliance programs are on the right track or are headed for trouble.

With TRICORD as a partner, you can achieve clarity and peace of mind where there used to be confusion and doubt. TRICORD’s mission is to serve the regulated community by providing a team of top-quality environmental, health, and safety (EHS) specialists with the technical expertise and relationship-driven approach to help you achieve your goals.  For BWON and NSPS QQQ, TRICORD is proud to offer a team of recognized subject-matter experts with a proven track record of excellence established over many decades of combined experience.


BWON, also commonly referred to as ‘NESHAPs FF or Benzene NESHAPs’, regulates benzene emissions from waste operations occurring at refineries, chemical plants, Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs), and coke by-product recovery plants.  Applicability to BWON control standards is determined by calculating the Total Annual Benzene (TAB) for an affected facility, which is the annual mass of benzene contained in the waste streams generated by that site.  Facilities with a TAB quantity of greater than 10 Megagrams per year (Mg/yr) are required to control and treat selected facility waste streams in accordance with one of the available BWON compliance options (generally either the 2 Mg/yr segregate-and-treat option or the 6 Mg/yr treat-to-target option, also referred to as the ‘2BQ’ and ‘6BQ’ compliance options, accordingly).

Although it is possible to describe the BWON regulation in only a few sentences, the stories of the many challenges faced by the regulated community since the promulgation of this rule in 1993 are sufficient to fill volumes.  BWON’s complexity is such that it seems to impact almost every functional area at a facility – environmental, capital projects, process engineering, operations, maintenance/turnaround, even the laboratory!  Adding to this complexity are the BWON enhancement provisions that are part of many refinery and chemical plant Consent Decrees, which impose additional requirements that are above-and-beyond those which are part of the rule itself.  Added together, managing a compliant BWON program is a challenging proposition which demands daily vigilance.



Specifically affecting only petroleum refineries, NSPS QQQ is a federal standard which requires air emissions controls on certain oily wastewater collection and treatment equipment in Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) service, which has been constructed, reconstructed, or modified after the regulatory effective date of May 4, 1987.  Affected sources under NSPS QQQ include:

  • Individual drain systems (IDSs), including; drain hubs, catch basins, areas drains, junction boxes, and sewer lines
  • Oil-Water Separators, which include separator tanks, basins, skimmers, weirs, grit chambers, and sludge hoppers, as well as slop oil collection equipment (i.e., storage tanks) and storage vessels and auxiliary equipment located between individual drain systems and the oil-water separator itself
  • Aggregate Facilities, which include an individual drain system together with its auxiliary downstream sewer lines and oil-water separators, down to and including the secondary oil-water separator.

Although less wide-reaching in its impacts, and seemingly less overtly complicated than BWON, NSPS QQQ often generates just as much confusion as its younger regulatory cousin, if not more!  For example, the typically straightforward task of defining what equipment is contained within a given affected facility can easily become a brain-twister of epic proportions under NSPS QQQ.  The multitude of ways by which a project may trigger NSPS QQQ applicability and the inflexibility of the control requirements create many opportunities to make an unfortunate misstep.  Add in the relative lack of enforcement scrutiny and agency guidance that NSPS QQQ has received in comparison to BWON, and it is little wonder that this regulation continues to be a source of anxiety for so many in the regulated community.

With the right kind of expert help, it is possible to bring clarity and confidence to your NSPS QQQ compliance program – no more nasty surprises waiting in your wastewater system, no more potential compliance issues hiding in your capital project history, no more skeletons in the closet!  Our team of NSPS QQQ subject matter experts is ready to assist you in building and maintaining a lasting, top-of-class compliance program.


BWON and NSPS QQQ Services

The following list provides a few examples of the types of BWON- and NSPS QQQ-related service offerings that TRICORD is proud to offer its clients:

  • Compliance Program Development: Whether your facility has just triggered BWON/NSPS QQQ control requirements for the first time, or you have a long-standing compliance program that is in need of a refresh, TRICORD has the perspective and experience to assist you with developing an efficient, well-documented, and comprehensive BWON and/or NSPS QQQ compliance programs.  By prioritizing the critical compliance actions and customizing the tools and procedures to your facility’s specific needs, maintaining ‘evergreen’ BWON and NSPS QQQ compliance programs can be easier than ever before.
  • Annual BWON TAB/BQ Updates and Reporting: Historically some of our most popular BWON services, we assist many clients each year with updating their annual TAB 2BQ/6BQ calculations, and preparing their quarterly and annual BWON reports.  With TRICORD as a partner, BWON reporting season no longer has to feel like ‘March Madness’!
  • NSPS QQQ Capital Project Applicability Reviews and Controls Strategy Development – TRICORD can assist you in evaluating an upcoming capital project for potential NSPS QQQ applicability. This includes identifying the various affected facilities that may be impacted by the change, defining the basis for regulatory applicability (or non-applicability), and understanding what add-on emissions controls may be required on affected equipment.  TRICORD can also advise you on how to most efficiently meet the applicable control requirements, such as taking advantage of the MACT CC BWON/NSPS QQQ overlap provisions, segregation of non-oily wastewater systems, elimination of unnecessary interconnections, etc.
  • Applicability Determinations and Day-to-Day Regulatory Assistance: From time to time, we all need a little help from our friends.  If a particularly sticky capital project applicability review comes across your desk, your management asks a question that has you scratching your head, or you simply need to sanity-check your interpretation of a certain regulatory citation, your friends at TRICORD are happy to help.  TRICORD’s decades of combined BWON experience are simply a phone call, an email, or a text away.
  • Historical NSPS QQQ Applicability Reviews – Oftentimes, facilities may lack sufficient documentation related to NSPS QQQ applicability determinations for historical capital projects, or may wish to revisit some historical project applicability evaluations using a fresh set of eyes. In either case, the goal is to ensure that all required controls are in place today for any equipment that may have triggered NSPS QQQ applicability since 1987, and to comprehensively document the basis for those determinations.  TRICORD’s subject matter experts have the regulatory and technical proficiencies to tackle these complex projects, and to provide you with thoughtful approaches to addressing any potential gaps and returning you to full compliance.
  • Consent Decree BWON Enhancement Provision Compliance: TRICORD offers a complete range of services related to compliance with CD BWON Enhancement Provisions, including End-of-Line (EOL) sampling program development, third-party TAB/BQ reviews, laboratory auditing, and other services.  We also help clients prepare for the closure of long-standing Consent Decrees.
  • Third-Party Compliance Auditing: TRICORD has provided BWON and NSPS QQQ compliance auditing services to more than 30 facilities over the years, including dozens of refineries, chemical plants, and others.  Our BWON compliance auditing services include third-party consent decree and audit privilege evaluations, assisting with internal corporate audits, and conducting informal compliance program checkups.  With any of our auditing services, TRICORD will provide you with an objective, thorough, and well-considered compliance evaluation, including recommendations for how to make your program the best it can be.

BWON and NSPS QQQ Training:  Over the years, TRICORD’s subject matter experts have provided BWON and NSPS QQQ-related training courses to hundreds of individuals from a wide-range of backgrounds and experience levels.  From zero-level to expert-level, from field personnel to corporate management, from audiences of one to one hundred, TRICORD can provide you with the regulatory understanding, technical background, and unique compliance strategies that you need to support your BWON and NSPS QQQ compliance programs with confidence.

Check out our Services page for a more comprehensive list of service offerings or email one of our BWON Service leaders below.

BWON Service Leaders

Dawn Neal

Air Quality / National / Petroleum Refining & Petrochemicals

Laura Blohm

Air Quality / Texas / Petroleum Refining & Petrochemicals

Ryan Atkinson

Air Quality / National / Oil & Gas, Petroleum Refining & Petrochemicals, Chemicals, Manufacturing and Coating Operations

Call 1-888-900-0746 or email with questions and let us help you get started today.