New air pollution testing at Tonawanda Coke Corp. shows that facility is a significant source of Benzene (NY)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released the results of environmental testing conducted at EPA’s direction at the Tonawanda Coke Corporation (TCC), a coke and coal tar manufacturer based in Tonawanda, New York. EPA had ordered TCC to conduct the testing under government oversight to determine what levels of benzene are coming from the facility to determine if TCC is a major source of hazardous air pollutants under the federal Clean Air Act. The testing showed that TCC does meet this definition and that the majority of benzene being emitted from the facility is coming from the process area and not the smoke stacks. These emissions, called “fugitive,” are likely to be coming from leaks in the process area. EPA and New York State will work closely to determine what actions need to be taken to reduce the benzene coming from these areas. The readings were taken on-site at the facility and represent a snapshot of the process on the days they were taken. Exposure to benzene and other hazardous air pollutants can significantly harm human health, and excessive exposure to benzene is a known cause of cancer.
“These test results show that the Tonawanda facility is a very significant source of benzene,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA will continue its work to bring these pollution levels down to protect public health and the environment in Western New York.”
The state of the science and highly sophisticated testing was conducted by a contractor for TCC in May 2010. TCC submitted its final report on the testing to EPA in September 2010. Known as differential absorption light detection and ranging (DIAL), the testing is a laser-based optical method that measures the concentration of gases, such as benzene, in the air. Under the Clean Air Act, a major source of hazardous air pollutants is one that emits more than 10 tons per year of a single air toxic or more than 25 tons per year of a combination of air toxics. Based on the DIAL test, Tonawanda Coke's estimated annual benzene emission rate for regulatory compliance purposes is 90.8 tons per year. The DIAL test also indicated that the actual benzene emissions at TCC vary over time based on production activity at the plant and a variety of other factors.
EPA will continue its investigation at the site during October to better identify sources of fugitive benzene releases.
For a copy of the DIAL testing report prepared by TCC’s contractor, go to www.epa.gov/region02/capp/TCC/tonawanda_docs.html
For more information about EPA’s actions at TCC, visit www.epa.gov/region02/capp/TCC
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