EPA updates pollution regs for oil refineries

More monitoring and data transparency required

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Staff Report

Oil refineries will have to do a better job of limiting pollutants that cause cancer and respiratory ailments under updated EPA regulations that require fenceline monitoring and more transparent data on emissions.

The regulations cover controls for flares, pressure relief devices, storage tanks, and delayed coker operations. The EPA expects that the rule will result in a reduction of 5,200 tons per year of toxic air pollutants, and 50,000 tons per year of volatile organic compounds, chemical precursors to ozone.

The agency also estimates the new standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from refineries by about 660,000 tons per year at 150 refineries around the country with little impact to the cost of petroleum products.“These updated Clean Air Act standards will lower the cancer risk from petroleum refineries for  more than 1.4 million people and are a substantial step forward in EPA’s work to protect the health of vulnerable communities located near these facilities,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement.

McCarthy said the updated refinery regulations are a big step in the agency’s efforts toward environmental justice for low-income neighborhoods that have long been disproportionately affected by air pollution from industrial facilities.

In particular, the new rules require continuous monitoring of benzene concentrations at the fenceline of refinery facilities to ensure that refineries appropriately manage toxic emissions. The new fenceline monitors must encircle the facility to detect benzene at very low levels, and the monitoring data will be posted on EPA’s website. It requires facilities to clean up their act if the standards aren’t met.

Additional information: http://www3.epa.gov/ttn/atw/petref.html

 

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