EPA reduces burden, emissions from large storage tanks with new inspection method

National and World

They will be able to conduct "in-service" rather than out-of-service inspections – potentially saving industry between $768,000 and $1,091,000 per year

United States EPA Logo - Environmental Protection Agency

(WKBN) – On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expanded the availability of a proven, modern inspection method for finding and correcting air pollution leaks at large liquid storage tanks.

The EPA’s final action offers regulatory flexibility to more than 3,500 petroleum, chemical and coal products manufacturing facilities and petroleum bulk stations and terminals by allowing an alternate mode of inspection of liquid storage tanks to show compliance with Clean Air Act regulations.

These amendments offer flexibility to conduct “in-service” rather than out-of-service inspections – potentially saving industry between $768,000 and $1,091,000 per year and reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds by as much as 83-tons per year. 

 “The Trump Administration is delivering on its promise to cut unnecessary regulatory costs while retaining important emissions reductions,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This action shows that environmental protection and a strong domestic energy industry go hand-in-hand.”

These amendments will allow owner/operators of certain large tanks known as Volatile Organic Liquid Storage Vessels to conduct inspections of the tanks, without emptying and degassing the storage tank.

Since 2018, EPA has received more than 300 requests from facilities seeking permission to conduct in-service inspections to demonstrate compliance with a 1987 Clean Air Act regulation.

The EPA says these one-off requests are time consuming and burdensome for both tank owners and operators. The current inspection methods can also be expensive, labor intensive and results in volatile organic compound air emissions and other pollutants from venting and flaring.

Further, the EPA says they understand that in recent months inspecting these large tanks, while empty of product and vapors, has become more challenging because there is a significant increase in the need for liquid storage capacity, due to slower consumer demand.

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