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Breakdowns & Variances

​While penalties are assessed for most violations of air quality rules and permit conditions, there are some instances where permit holders may be able to receive relief from a violation. The two primary ways permit holders can seek relief are: (1) reporting an equipment breakdown or (2) applying for a variance.

​Breakdowns

When equipment unexpectedly fails and results in a violation of a SacMetro AQMD rule or permit condition, breakdown relief is available, provided certain conditions are met. 

You must notify the SacMetro AQMD of a breakdown condition within one hour of discovery for it to be considered for breakdown relief.  Please call (916) 874-4800 or (800) 880-9025 24 hours a day to report a breakdown.

A SacMetro AQMD inspector will immediately investigate the reported breakdown condition and will provide information on the timeline for repairing and reporting the breakdown. The breakdown condition must not persist longer than the end of the production run or 24 hours (whichever is sooner) or 96 hours for continuous emissions monitoring equipment. Breakdowns must be reported on the approved Breakdown Reporting Form

 For additional information on breakdowns please read Rule 602 Breakdown Conditions:  Emergency Variance.

Variances

A variance is an administrative exception to a law. A variance allows a company to continue operating in violation of SacMetro AQMD rules without penalty for a defined period of time while it takes appropriate steps to meet air pollution regulations.

Variances can be granted only by the SacMetro AQMD Hearing Board, not by SacMetro AQMD inspectors or engineers.  Rule 601: Procedure Before the Hearing Board includes the requirements for applying for and receiving a variance.

Please visit the Hearing Board page for further information on how to apply for a variance. 

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