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Hess Agrees To Pay For Air Pollution Controls in Guayanilla
Release Date: 12/30/1998
(#98173) San Juan, Puerto Rico -- In a move that will result in reduced air pollution in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Amerada Hess has agreed to pay for the installation and operation of equipment that will control emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) at the Peerless Oil Corporation's Puntilla Tank Farm in Guayanilla. These controls will reduce VOC emissions by at least 185 tons per year. VOCs are a class of pollutant that include some toxic air contaminants, such as benzene. Hess has agreed to install the VOC controls in exchange for temporary relief from a fuel regulation that would have required Hess to use a computer model to calculate whether its gasoline meets certain federal standards.
Under the current EPA regulation, companies must provide "baseline gasoline," conventional gasoline that is at least as clean as gasoline it produced in 1990. The regulation is designed to ensure that refiners don't dump elements, refined out of special gasoline that is required in certain areas of the U.S., into their conventional gasoline. Hess would have been required to demonstrate, by December 31, 1998, that fuel supplied to Puerto Rico meets conventional gasoline standards and to calculate compliance with these standards using a computer model designed for winter climates. Compliance is determined by using this model to predict an emission rate from vehicles running on current gasoline and then comparing that rate with an emission from it's "baseline gasoline." This model has been problematic for some fuel providers because it assumes wintertime conditions, which can generate higher-than-actual emission rates in warm climates, such as Puerto Rico. The combustion process in vehicle engines is much less efficient in cold temperatures, resulting in higher emissions than actually occur in warmer areas.
Hess is producing fuel for Puerto Rico, which is as clean as its baseline, and there will be no increase in VOC emissions. However, the model indicates that Hess' fuel is dirtier today than its baseline gasoline due to the assumption of wintertime conditions, coupled with the fact that since 1990, Hess has more than quadrupled the amount of gasoline it provides to Puerto Rico. EPA is currently exploring ways to revise the regulation so that it better reflects unique climates such as Puerto Rico.
"This is a positive outcome for all sides. We will see real reductions in toxic air emissions and be able to correct a requirement that is inappropriate for areas with year-round summer climates," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "It doesn't make sense to make Hess use amethod of calculating compliance with our regulation that is based on conditions that never occur in Puerto Rico."
The new equipment will reduce the amount of emissions that occur at the tanks, which are used to store fuel. Emission reductions from these controls will far exceed even the incorrectly predicted increases in emissions calculated using the wintertime model. Hess will install the new pollution control equipment within the next six months.
For more information contact:
EPA Caribbean Environmental Protection Division
1492 Ponce De Leon Avenue
Santurce, PR 00909
Voice: 787-729-6951 FAX: 787-729-7747 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org