Reasons for Exemption
The project is to develop hydrogen refueling stations by adding hydrogen storage, compression, and dispensing equipment with an estimated maximum footprint of 2,000 square feet and trenching of up to 100 feet at existing retail gasoline stations.
As to the equipment to be installed, the storage tanks will hold 600 and 1,200 kg of hydrogen at 55 bar. The hydrogen station will dispense at 770 and 1,420 kg per 24 hour period. Control valves will be pneumatically operated. All control valves fail in the safe direction (closed) after loss of utility power or instrument gas supply. All system alarms and shutdowns are displayed on the control panel face. Critical alarms are hard wired in addition to being connected through the Programmable Logic Controller. This adds an extra layer of safety to the system.
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, sect. 15301 provides that projects which consist of the operation, repair, maintenance, permitting, leasing, licensing, or minor alteration of existing public or private structures, facilities, mechanical equipment, or topographical features, and which involve negligible or no expansion of use beyond that existing at the time of the lead agency’s determination, are categorically exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act.
The proposed project adds equipment to existing gasoline stations that covers an area which is approximately 800 to 2,000 square feet, with some excavation to accommodate the replacement equipment. This square footage is far less than that specified in one example provided in the Regulations (i.e., 14 C.C.R. § 15301(e)) of a minor addition to existing structures. Because the proposed sites are existing gas stations; the proposed addition of a hydrogen refueling facility will not significantly expand the use beyond that already existing; and the square footage of equipment installation is relatively small, the project falls within section 15301 and will not have a significant effect on the environment.
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, sect. 15303 provides that projects which consist of construction and location of limited numbers of new, small facilities or structures; installation of small new equipment and facilities in small structures; and the conversion of existing small structures from one use to another where only minor modifications are made in the exterior of the structure, are categorically exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act.
The proposed project consists of installation of small new equipment, including hydrogen storage of 600 and 1,200 kg capacity, and compression and dispensing equipment, at each site. Therefore, the proposed project falls within section 15303 and will not have a significant effect on the environment.
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, sect. 15304 provides that projects which consist of minor public or private alterations in the condition of land, water, and/or vegetation which do not involve removal of healthy, mature, scenic trees except for forestry or agricultural purposes, are categorically exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act.
For the installation of the equipment in this project, there will be up to 100 feet of trenching to connect storage and compression equipment to dispensers. No trees will be removed and the surface will be restored. This reflects exactly the example given in section 15304(f). Therefore, the proposed project falls within section 15304 and will not have a significant effect on the environment