Sept. 3, 2004
The Southland’s air quality agency today called for the development of a
rule to further reduce air pollution from flares at refineries and other
facilities in the region.
“Refineries in recent years have significantly reduced flare emissions on
a voluntary basis in response to emissions data reporting requirements,”
said Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality
“We believe that further emission reductions are achievable through
development of a new pollution control regulation.”
AQMD’s Governing Board today directed its staff to develop an amendment
to its Rule 1118 – Emissions from Refinery Flares – to require further
emission reductions. The action followed the presentation by AQMD staff of
a technical report on flaring operations in the region. Eight refineries, a
sulfur recovery plant and a hydrogen production facility, all in Los Angeles
County, operate 27 flares.
Flares – easily recognized by their highly visible flames emitted from a
tall stack – are used to burn and dispose of vent gases generated as part of
petroleum production processes or during a process upset. Flares are also
used as safety devices to relieve pressure and prevent fires or explosions.
In 1998 AQMD adopted Rule 1118 requiring the eight refineries and two
related facilities to collect emissions data from their vent gas flaring
operations. Data was collected from October 1, 1999 through December 31,
Today’s report summarizing the findings of that data found that while
emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx) from flaring have significantly decreased
in the past few years – from an average of 7.2 tons per day in 2000 to 2
tons per day in 2003 – such operations still represent a significant source
of SOx emissions in the Southland. SOx emissions from flares are equal to
that emitted by all the large diesel trucks operating in Southern
California. SOx emissions contribute to the formation of fine particulate
pollution, which is linked to a number of health effects from increased
hospital admissions to premature deaths.
Based on the findings, the AQMD plans to begin the rulemaking process to
amend Rule 1118 to ensure that emission reductions achieved over recent
years will continue and that further reductions occur.
Flaring operations are unique to each facility. The AQMD will consider a
menu of compliance options for facilities to ensure that emission reduction
goals are appropriate for each facility.
In other action today, the Board:
- Amended Rule 2007 – Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM)
Trading Requirements, to continue current trading restrictions on power
producing facilities until amendments to the RECLAIM program are
considered by the AQMD Board this fall;
- Set an informational hearing for October 1 to provide interested
parties and the public an opportunity to comment on proposed amendments to
the RECLAIM program. A white paper on proposed amendments to the RECLAIM
program will be released at the hearing; and
- Awarded $834,000 in funding to school districts and bus operators in
the four-county region to retrofit existing diesel school buses with
particulate filter traps and provide other necessary insulation and
cleaning devices for the filter traps.
AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major
portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.