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EPA expands availability of inspection method for correcting pollution leaks in large tanks

Read Time: 2 mins

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expanded the availability of a proven, modern inspection method for finding and correcting air pollution leaks at large liquid storage tanks.

This action from the EPA 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, less cumbersome mode of inspection of liquid storage tanks to show compliance with Clean Air Act regulations”.

These amendments offer flexibility to conduct so-called ‘in-service’ as opposed to out-of-service inspections. This has the potential to save industry between $768,000 and $1,091,000 a year and reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds by as much as 83 tons per year.

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said: “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 less cumbersome in-service inspections of the tanks, without emptying and degassing them.

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

EPA added 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 (particularly crude and petroleum products), due to slower consumer demand.

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