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EPA imposes fence-line monitoring on US refiners

Just saw this on Hydrocarbon Processing online.  FYI...

US refiners will face tighter standards in coming years on toxic emissions after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a new pollution rule on Tuesday.

The rule, to be fully implemented in 2018, aims to reduce emissions of benzene and other toxic releases.

The EPA said the capital cost to refiners will be about $283 million, with an annualized cost of $63 million, but that the standards will have a "negligible impact on the costs of petroleum products," like gasoline and diesel fuel.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said the pollution cuts will lower the cancer risk from refineries for more than 1.4 million people.

"This is a substantial step forward in EPA's work to protect the health of vulnerable communities located near these facilities," she said.

The standard will require regular monitoring of concentrations of benzene and other pollutants at the fence line of refineries. The EPA said it would strengthen emissions controls at flares, storage tanks and delayed coker operations.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) trade group said the EPA had made "substantial improvements" in the rule, but estimated that the regulation could still cost up to $1 billion.

"Despite these improvements, regulators need to be thoughtful about the additional impacts of new regulations and added costs to delivering affordable energy to US consumers," said Bob Greco, downstream group director at the API.

“Companies have already spent billions of dollars to reduce emissions by installing flare gas recovery and flare minimization systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and air quality continues to improve as a result of these voluntary programs and existing regulations," he added.

According to the API, US refiners have been reducing emissions for decades under voluntary programs and in compliance with existing regulations. Through comments made during the rulemaking process, API identified and supported practical, cost-effective opportunities to even further reduce emissions in a manner that recognizes the complexity of the industry, which EPA took into account.

“EPA analyses, supported by extensive industry monitoring data, show that air emissions from refineries are already at safe levels,” Greco said. “The refinery industry has proven we can provide reliable American energy while protecting the environment and local communities, and collaborative efforts by API and the EPA led to final regulations that are more cost-effective than the proposal.”