Refinery Must Hike Emission Controls

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 @ 01:08 PM gHale

San Ramon, CA-based Chevron agreed to pay a $384,000 penalty for violations of the Clean Air Act at its refinery in Salt Lake City, UT, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials said.

The settlement stems from violations of Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting requirements at the Chevron refinery’s Fluid Catalytic Cracker Unit (FCCU).

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EPA and the State of Utah discovered these Clean Air Act violations through an inspection that found Chevron made changes to the FCCU resulting in excess emissions of nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxide contributes to ground-level ozone, acid rain, and destruction of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and can also irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory illnesses.

“It is critical that companies conduct business responsibly and obtain the proper permits before making infrastructure changes that increase emissions of air pollutants,” said Mike Gaydosh, director of EPA’s enforcement program in Denver. “This settlement will help ensure the company is operating in accordance with industry standards to protect the environment and the health of local communities.”

The settlement requires Chevron to overhaul and install pollution controls on three engines at the refinery, which will mitigate the effects of past excess emissions by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by an estimated 50 tons per year. In addition, Chevron will spend $100,000 to support the purchase of four new compressed natural gas school buses for the Jordan School District in Salt Lake County. The operation of these buses will reduce in-cabin exposure of diesel pollutants to an average of 216 students and conserve an estimated 6,338 gallons of diesel fuel each year.

The reduction in nitrogen oxides will have a beneficial effect on communities near the refinery, which include significant minority and low-income populations, officials said. Under the PSD permitting requirements, certain large industrial facilities making modifications that increase air pollutant emissions must install state-of-the-art air pollution controls.

EPA investigations in various industries, including petroleum refining, reveal facilities fail to install pollution controls after modifications, causing them to emit pollutants that can impact air quality and public health. Enforcing these permitting requirements reduces air pollution and ensures that facilities that are complying with the requirements are not a competitive disadvantage.

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