Control of Emissions from Refinery Flares

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Flare Tip
This is a close-up of a refinery flare tip. The pronged ends are used to insert steam during flare events.

A gas flare, also known as a flare stack, is a gas combustion device used in a variety of industrial plants. In petroleum refineries, flares are used as safety devices to prevent over pressure of equipment via planned and unplanned flaring.

- Planned Event: Used for scheduled maintenance, plant startup/shutdown, or other activities where the refinery can reasonably anticipate the need to dispose of excess combustible gas.

- Unplanned Event: Used for emergencies caused by equipment failure, power outage, or other unanticipated event which requires the refinery to dispose of the gases in order to prevent harm to workers, the community, or to the environment.

Flares can come in different shapes and sizes. See the example above for a common refinery flare.

Seven petroleum refining facilities, three hydrogen plants, and one sulfur recovery plant within Los Angeles County operate a total of 30 flares subject to the requirements of Rule 1118 - Control of Emissions from Refinery Flares.

Rule 1118 requires that each of the above facilities submit notifications and reports, monitor emissions, meet emissions targets, and maintain a public inquiry hotline.

Community members are encouraged to call the flare hotline telephone numbers, sign up to receive email notifications of planned and unplanned flare events, and report air quality complaints associated with flares (or any other air quality concern) to South Coast AQMD by calling 1-800-CUT-SMOG.

The Flare Event Notification System (FENS) has been updated to include a flare map to identify facilities currently flaring. FENS also provides information on upcoming and past flaring events.  A video tutorial has been created to assist in navigating the public portal and locating flaring event information.


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