EPA announced that it had reached a settlement agreement with Marathon Petroleum Company (Marathon) regarding allegations of Clean Air Act violations at Marathon’s Texas City and Detroit refineries. EPA developed the evidence by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) showing that several of Marathon’s flares were not controlling VOC emissions sufficiently, resulting in excess emissions that had gone unreported. As a result, Marathon had to pay a hefty fine of $450,000 for Clean Air Act violations and to invest millions more to upgrade and improve flare operations at its refineries. The flares are not only used in refineries to control VOCs, but also in a variety of facilities including as an emergency safety measure. The capital cost to install a flare is relatively low as compared to other oxidation techniques. Moreover, the VOC control efficiency of a flare has always been assumed rather than having to be demonstrated, but now it has to be demonstrated. However, in view of EPA findings, the flare burning is going to be replaced by new solutions including systems that are specifically designed for waste gas streams of varying volume and heat content.
As featured in Nature Environment and Pollution Technology.