Tuesday, July 24, 2012

rubber stamps

Valero Refinery - Meraux, LA shutdown production units after a fire this weekend. Damage assessment is underway and Valero will determine which units could safely remain online during repairs. That commitment to our community is appreciated.

Rain CII Carbon coke plant in Chalmette has recently experienced unexpected mechanical failure in the facility's turbine and an unexpected boiler tube rupture. But instead of a shutdown to make adequate repairs, Louisiana DEQ has granted several pollution variances. This is during a time when Louisiana DEQ's ambient air monitor has demonstrated health standard exceedances in the adjacent neighborhood for sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. Even nearby industries have reported the pollution effects from Rain CII.

It is considered a violation of regulatory permits if control measures and equipment are not installed and properly operated and maintained.  Additionally, permits and variances do not authorize the maintenance of a nuisance or a danger to public health and safety.

Rain CII's Title V operating permit currently permits use of a Pyroscrubber Stack as a bypass stack for up to 500 hours per year.

In June 2011 Rain CII obtained a variance for 150 additional such bypass or "hot stack" hours due to increased production rates to keep up with customer demand since other Rain CII facilities were out of service due to the Mississippi River flooding. St. Bernard Parish residents and workers at nearby industry suffered the pollution effects.

In December 2011 Rain CII received a variance for an additional 350 hot stack or bypass hours due to a mechanical failure in the facility's turbine. In January 2012 Rain CII received a variance for an additional 350 hot stack or bypass hours due to the mechanical failure in the facility's turbine. That variance expired in February 2012.

Louisiana DEQ has designated St. Bernard Parish non-attainment for EPA's sulfur health standards and noted the exceedances are most likely majority attributed to pollution from Rain CII.

Yet, Louisiana DEQ continues to grant bypass variances and modifications to Rain CII's Title V air permit without consideration for emission reductions.  Also, these variances and modifications are not being public noticed.

Now Rain CII has an unexpected boiler tube rupture requiring the facility to request additional 336 hot stack or bypass hours. Without the variance, the facility would have to do what Valero and other industries in St Bernard Parish do: make adequate repairs.  That would be the right thing to do.

Yet, Lousiaian DEQ is now allowing yet another variance at the cost of our health. The July application seems to have been approved on  the same day, leading residents to believe this was a rubber stamp permit approval.



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