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First-Ever Fenceline Monitoring Rule Targets Refineries’ Emissions

industrial plant emissionsThe EPA yesterday updated air pollution standards with a rule requiring first-of-its-kind fenceline monitoring to control emissions from petroleum refineries.

The agency says the new rule will better protect nearby communities, while also strengthening emission controls for flares, pressure relief devices, storage tanks, and delayed coker operations that will reduce thousands of tons of hazardous air pollutants.

When fully implemented, 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 (VOCs), the EPA says. The agency also projects that these standards will eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases equivalent to about 660,000 tons per year of CO2.

The EPA says the rule will have “no noticeable impact on the cost of petroleum products” at some 150 petroleum refineries across the US. Industry groups, however, have said the rule will cost the industry more than $20 billion and increase air pollution.

The rule requires continuous monitoring of benzene concentrations at the fenceline of refinery facilities to ensure that refineries appropriately manage toxic emissions. The rule requires corrective action to protect neighboring communities from being exposed to harmful levels of emissions if the established standard level is exceeded.

The new fenceline monitors must encircle the facility to detect benzene at very low levels, and the monitoring data will be posted on the EPA’s website. In addition, in response to public feedback, the rule provides room for alternative monitoring methods in the future as technology advances.

Other specific requirements in this rule will virtually eliminate visible flare emissions and releases by pressure release devices by requiring a comprehensive program of process changes and pollution prevention measures for these emission sources. It will also require additional emission reductions from storage tanks and delayed coking units, some of which had no previous required controls.

Photo Credit: industrial plant emissions via Shutterstock


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2 thoughts on “First-Ever Fenceline Monitoring Rule Targets Refineries’ Emissions

  1. While it’s highly unlikely that these changes will cost the American energy industry $20 billion, it will cost them something with the extra costs passed on to the consumer. However, this increase will probably be less than 1% and it’s well worth it considering the health benefits – to say nothing of lower health care costs – to the millions of Americans who live near refineries.

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