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EPA Adds Time to Comply with Tank Rule

Friday, August 9, 2013

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Facilities that use oil and gas storage tanks are getting a reprieve on their October deadline to install emissions controls.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended the compliance deadlines for the 2012 New Source Performance Standards for Oil and Natural Gas Production.

The changes, announced Monday (Aug. 5), also stagger the implementation schedule to ensure that tanks with the highest emissions are controlled first.

EPA oil and gas standards
OSHA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced updates to its 2012 standards for oil and gas storage tank emissions, providing extra time to install controls.

The updates will phase in emission control deadlines and "provide the time needed to ramp up the production and installation of controls," EPA said in a statement.

EPA says it learned after issuing the standards, required by the Clean Air Act, that more storage tanks will come online than originally estimated. The agency also was petitioned by industry and environmental groups to reconsider the standard.

Storage tanks can be a source of emissions, ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and several toxic air pollutants, including benzene and hexane, which can cause cancer and other serious health effects, according to EPA.

New Deadlines Established

The final rule requires storage tanks that were constructed after Aug. 23, 2011, and emit six or more tons of VOCs per year to reduce emissions by 95 percent. The updated rule establishes these two emission control deadlines:

  • Tanks put online after April 12, 2013, are likely to have higher emissions and must control VOC emissions within 60 days or by April 15, 2014, whichever is later; and
  • Tanks that came online before April 12, 2013, are likely to have lower emissions and must control VOC emissions by April 15, 2015.

The original standard required storange tanks subject to the rule to install controls to reduce VOC emissions by Oct. 15, 2013.

The updated standards also allow an alternative emissions limit to remove controls from tanks if the owner/operator can demonstrate that the tanks emit less than four tons of VOCs per year without controls.

VOC emissions controls
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The updated standard will ensure that tanks with the highest emissions are controlled first and streamlines compliance requirements for tanks with controls already in place.

"This alternative limit reflects the decline in emissions that occurs at most tanks over time and allows owners/operators to shift control equipment to higher-emitting tanks," the agency said in a fact sheet about the new rule.

Additional Updates

The rule also streamlines compliance and monitoring requirements for tanks with controls already in place and clarifies the types of tanks subject to the rule and test protocols for control equipment, EPA says.

The updates require tanks with controls to perform monthly inspections of covers, closed-vent systems and control devices, which is expected to minimize VOC emissions by allowing quick repairs for leaks.

EPA says it is allowing tank owners/operators to use control devices designed to reduce emissions by 95 percent while it reviews issues raised in petitions related to field testing protocol equipment. The agency expects to address this issue by the end of 2014.

The final action does not change 2012 standards for capturing natural gas from hydraulically fractured walls.

   

Tagged categories: Clean Air Act; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Oil and Gas; Regulations; VOC emissions

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