US ExxonMobil ordered to reduce air pollution at Texas refinery

22 February 2012 23:10  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US energy giant ExxonMobil has been ordered to complete several environmental projects to reduce air pollution at its Baytown refinery and olefins unit, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said on Wednesday.

The projects would reduce the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 126 tons (114 tonnes) by the end of the fifth year of the TCEQ’s order, the state agency said.

The order stems from air pollution violations that occurred in October at the Baytown, Texas, facility, the TCEQ said. In both cases ExxonMobil failed to provide the agency with enough information regarding the causes of the incidents, the TCEQ said.

The first incident began on 12 October and lasted more than 58 hours, while a 25 October incident lasted an hour and 25 minutes, the TCEQ said.

The environmental projects include plant automation to improve real-time monitoring and management; the installation of more instruments to monitor and manage a flare system; and training simulators at the olefins plant to reduce the frequency and severity of emissions.

ExxonMobil was also told to pay a penalty of $49,000 (€36,750).

“The commission acknowledged and applauded ExxonMobil’s commitment to continued environmental improvement,” the TCEQ said.

ExxonMobil spokesperson Rachael Moore said, “We are supportive of the stipulated penalty structure set forth in this agreement with established fines per emissions event consistent with TCEQ's regulatory goals.”

The Baytown complex has reduced emissions of certain pollutants by 58% over the last 10 years, she said.

The Baytown facility has a 1m tonne/year propylene capacity and 2.2 tonne/year ethylene capacity, according to ICIS plants and projects.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Brian Ford
+1 713 525 2653

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