Friday, May 1, 2015

AAH Report: EPA Announces Refineries Under-Reporting Air Pollution Emissions

From an article in airCurrent News, a publication of Air Alliance Houston:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that flares at refineries and chemical plants emit about four times more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) a smog-forming air pollutant than previously reported.  EPA also found that Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units at refineries emit more than 10 times more hydrogen cyanide per year, releasing more than 3000 tons more of this powerful neurotoxin each year than previously reported, and more than one third the combined total of all hazardous air pollutants refineries reported to the Toxics Release Inventory in 2013.

Houston Ship Channel
on a crystal-clear day
The new EPA guidelines were prompted by a 2013 lawsuit by the Environmental Integrity Project on behalf of Air Alliance Houston, Community In-Power and Development, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.  EPA revised its methodology for estimating emissions from flares used at various industries, including refineries and chemical plants after determining that they release four times more VOCs than reported by industry in the past.  VOCs contribute to smog and include benzene and other carcinogens.  Although EPA is apparently informing reporters that these emission factors should not be used to estimate VOC releases from flares and oil and gas drilling sites, the agency has not made this distinction in the guidance it has published today or in previous versions.

“The VOC air pollution plume from flares is four times larger than we thought, and that multiplies their contribution to health problems,” said Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project.  “Based on this new data, flares deserve more attention from state and local regulators.”

Ah, yes, the lying bastards diligent corporate citizens hard at work for their own profit your city's benefit. Please read the rest of the article, if you survive the air you breathe long enough to reach the end...

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