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Government and Refinery Industry Workgroup Reports Methods to Reduce Air Pollution

Release Date: 7/31/2001
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     A group of government and industry representatives reported some of the best ways to reduce air pollution from refineries after working together for more than 18 months.

     "This group has demonstrated that companies and their regulators can work together to exchange ideas and develop strategic approaches to further reduce air emissions to the environment," said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional (EPA) Administrator Gregg Cooke.

    Most industrial facilities are permitted to release a regulated amount of pollution in routine operations.  However, other unplanned releases can result from such factors as equipment failures, human error, and startup and shutdown processes. The group sought to identify and reduce these events. A report documents the group's conclusions as well as the process used to achieve them.

     The group, known as the Episodic Release Reduction Initiative, was formed by the EPA in Sept. 1999. EPA's Region 6 office identified 13 facilities in its five-state jurisdiction that might benefit from sharing best management practices on preventing unplanned pollution and invited them to join a workgroup with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ).

     TNRCC Commissioner R.B. "Ralph" Marquez said, "This initiative is consistent with ongoing efforts to identify and reduce unplanned releases of emissions. The results are encouraging and will contribute to be an important element in the overall plan to clean up the air in Texas."  

     LDEQ Secretary Dale Givens said, "Companies participating in this program have shared ideas on how episodic releases to the environment can be prevented.  It is my hope that the lessons learned will result in further reductions in these types of incidents and, therefore, a reduction in pollutants released to the environment."

     The numbers of reportable air releases of hazardous chemicals in 2000 were 28 percent lower than the average for 1994 through 1999.  The pounds of emissions from such releases were 48 percent lower.  EPA believes at least part of the reduction was a direct result of the attention this initiative focused on episodic releases at the participating facilities.  

     Participants included:  Valero Refining Company, Corpus Christi, Texas; Dow Chemical, Freeport, Texas; Chevron Phillips Chemical, Port Arthur, Texas; Diamond Shamrock, Dumas, Texas; Equistar Chemicals, LP, Channelview, Texas; Phillips Petroleum Company, Borger, Texas; Cytec Industries, Inc., Westwego, Louisiana; Exxon Mobil Chemical, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Exxon Mobil Refining, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; PPG Industries, Lake Charles, Louisiana; Shell Chemical, Norco, Louisiana; Motiva Enterprises, Convent, Louisiana; and Motiva Enterprises, Norco, Louisiana.

EPA's report is available on the Internet at