Federal regulations require refiners to routinely monitor for leaks and to fix any equipment found leaking. Failure to identify leaking equipment results in necessary repairs not being made and continuing fugitive emissions of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and other hazardous chemicals. EPA estimates that the failure to identify and repair leaks at petroleum refineries could be resulting in additional VOC emissions of 80 million pounds annually. VOCs contribute to ground-level ozone, a principal component of smog, which can cause significant health and environmental problems.
Proper Monitoring Essential to Reducing ‘Fugitive Emissions` Under Leak Detection and Repair Programs
The Clean Air Act requires refineries to develop and implement a Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program to control fugitive emissions. Fugitive emissions occur from valves, pumps, compressors, pressure relief valves, flanges, connectors and other piping components. Comparison monitoring conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Enforcement Investigation Center (NEIC) shows that the number of leaking valves and components is up to 10 times greater than had been reported by certain refineries. EPA believes this great disparity between what refineries are reporting and what EPA is finding may be attributable to refineries not monitoring in the manner prescribed in 40 CFR Part 60, Appendix A, Method 21.