Monday, December 15, 2008

Emissions Increase Requested

Murphy Oil's Meraux refinery has applied for an expedited air permit from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. The December 5, 2008 application and request for expedited permit processing is for "Maintaining tank capacity availability by replacement of existing tanks that are no longer in service with tanks with more stringent emission controls."

"MOUSA is undertaking this project to replace previously existing tanks and to address post-Katrina storage capacity shortages. The use of domed internal floating roofs on Tanks 80-9 and 80-10A, as well as an internal floating roof on Tank 1-3A, will result in significant reductions in VOC emissions versus the previously existing tanks. The construction of Tank 80-5A will enable tank farm changes to accommodate the future BenFree Unit, which must be built and operational by January, 2010 to satisfy the Mobile Source Air Toxics rule." (emphasis added)

However, embedded in the application, documents report Murphy Oil "intends to submit a permit modification application to the LDEQ Permits Division by December 31, 2008 to incorporate the appropriate emissions limits..." (emphasis added) (EDMS document #38894488 page 297)

Murphy Oil's Meraux refinery looms over our little residential neighborhoods and simple compliance with the existing emission limits agreed to when applied for will result in immediate and significant improvements to the quality of life and air quality in Meraux and Chalmette.

Murphy Oil requests interim emission limits, noting "the current 5.3 lb/hr maximum limit for SO2 cannot be achieved and was established based upon erroneous flow information. More accurate flow monitoring has demonstrated higher flows to the flare than were used in the permit calculations." (EDMS document #38894488 pages 304, 305)

Emission changes for the North Flare are listed in the following table from EDMS Document 37782719 dated 07/31/2008.

Murphy Oil is also expected to request emission limit changes for H2S for the North and South Flares from 50 TPY to 50 lb/day. As part of a" flare gas recovery system intended to achieve long-term reductions of H2S to the flares with corresponding SO2 emissions reductions" Murphy Oil intends to submit a feasibility study to the LDEQ by June 20, 2009. (pages 296, 304, 305 EDMS document # 38894488)
Residents also have a growing concern about VOC emissions from Tank 200-7, located within hundreds of feet of residential homes and school bus stops along Ohio Street and Despaux and Jacob Drives.

"Since Tank 200-7 is a group 2 tank, it does not currently have any controls." As with all of Murphy Oil's storage tanks, residents have previously requested independent monitoring of VOC releases to protect public health and continued compliance assurance measures to guarantee Murphy Oil's emissions are within the existing permitted levels.

VOC emissions from Tank 200-7 were listed at nearly 500 times the permitted amounts (page 286 EDMS document # 38894488), however, as Murphy reports in its response (page 297 EDMS document #38894488) " the emissions estimates provided in the March 2008 notification were conservative high estimates and that subsequent investigation indicates that the emissions are much lower."

Murphy Oil is continuing its review, however any changes to storage tank controls or processing improvements may not be implemented until mid 2009 or later. Murphy Oil "is also investigating control methods" for the heavy oil storage tank and the feasibility of processing changes for the No. 6 Fuel Oil stream. "Current efforts are focused at improving operations to reduce the vapor pressure of the No. 6 Oil." "The higher vapor pressure results in higher estimated emissions. " (pages 297, 298 EDMS document # 38894488)

Murphy Oil has "indicated that the vapor pressure of the No. 6 Oil managed in Tank 200-7 and at the dock was greater than previously believed during the permitting of such units" and that at times its No. 6 Fuel Oil's vapor pressure exceeds the storage tank's permitted vapor pressure of less than 1.5 psia. (EDMS document # 36833563, dated March 4, 2008, EDMS document # 38894488, dated December 5, 2008 , page 286, 287)

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