EPA extends comment period for proposed refinery regulations

The US Environmental Protection Agency has extended the public comment period by 60 days for its proposed rule that would force petroleum refiners to implement additional controls on toxic air emissions from their refineries (OGJ Online, May 15, 2014).

The public comment period for the proposed “Petroleum Refinery Sector Risk and Technology Review and New Source Performance Standards” has been extended to Oct. 28 from an original deadline of Aug. 29, according to a posting on EPA’s web site.

The extension notice is to be published officially in the Federal Register on Aug. 15, according to the Office of the Federal Register.

The purpose in extending the deadline is to ensure the public has sufficient time to review and comment on all of the information available on the proposed rule, EPA said.

The proposed rule, which was first announced on May 15, would require refiners to measure benzene emissions around their refineries’ fences and make the results publicly available.

The rule also would require storage tank upgrades, including controls for smaller tanks; establish flares to ensure that waste gases are properly destroyed; and set emissions standards for delayed coking units that it said are currently a significant unregulated source of toxic air emissions at refineries.

This proposed rule would also eliminate current exemptions to emission limits at refineries during periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction.

EPA estimates that, when fully implemented, the provisions in the proposed rule will result in a 5,600-tonne/year reduction of toxic air pollutants, including benzene, toluene, and xylene. Volatile organic compound emissions would be cut by about 52,000 tpy, EPA said.

Public hearings on the proposed rule were held near Los Angeles and Houston in July and August.

EPA previously has said it expects to finalize the requirements for the rule in April 2015.

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