Refineries Face Tougher Emission Rules

Friday, October 2, 2015 @ 02:10 PM gHale

New rules came out this week meant to reduce toxic air pollution from oil refineries by forcing operators to adopt new technology that better monitors and controls emissions.

The rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, will require for the first time refineries install air monitors along “fence lines” where pollution enters neighboring communities. These monitors will measure levels of benzene and other dangerous pollutants. Corrective action will then come into play if levels exceed established limits.

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These new rules should protect the health of more than 6 million people who live within 3 miles of a refinery, said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

The rules will serve as a “neighborhood watch for toxic pollutants” near the nation’s 140 petroleum refineries, including dozens across the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, McCarthy said. There are also refineries near major cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.

This long-delayed refinery rule comes as the EPA prepared to set new limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness.

Facing a court-ordered deadline, the EPA will unveil a new ozone standard. Officials are look to set a limit of 70 parts per billion or less in the atmosphere, down from the existing standard of 75.

Janet McCabe, the EPA’s top air regulator, told Congress a new, stricter standard will cut dangerous ozone pollution and prevent thousands of asthma attacks, emergency room visits and even premature deaths.

A new ozone standard, combined with greenhouse gas reductions mandated by a new rule limiting carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, “will extend the trajectory of the last 40 years when we’ve cut air pollution 70 percent — all while our economy has tripled,” McCabe said Tuesday.