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Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction (SSM) Reconsideration

The Latest On: Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction (SSM) Reconsideration

December 30, 2010 | Blog Post

Celebrating Americans Who Didn't Die in 2010

According to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 160,000 American lives were saved in 2010 by the Clean Air Act’s health protections. Four decades of clean air protections have made the U.S. stronger, healthier and more prosperous.

December 10, 2010 | Feature

Clearing the Air: Q&A with Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew

Earthjustice litigation succeeded in closing a gaping air pollution loophole known as the startup, shutdown, and malfunction exemption, which allowed industrial facilities to blanket nearby communities with toxic air pollution, all without warning or accountability.

June 20, 2006 | Case

Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction (SSM) Reconsideration

Toxic air pollution from refineries, chemical plants, incinerators and other large industrial plants can increase to as much as ten times allowable levels during startup, shutdown, and malfunction events. Nonetheless, EPA's regulations exempted plants from toxic emission limits during these periods. Moreover, though EPA requires plant operators to prepare a plan for minimizing emissions during these highly polluting periods, EPA did not require plants to comply with their plan and allowed the plan to be kept secret from the public.


In December of 2008, as a result of this lawsuit, this loophole was closed by a federal court. Industry groups appealed the decision, and in March 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case, effectively ending litigation.