Federal EPA prepares to sign off on United Refining’s emissions

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is prepared to sign off on air quality implementation plans regarding reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from United Refining.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), United Refining Company has made modifications that have reduced its sulfur dioxide emissions more than was projected just months ago.

“DEP and United Refining Company announced that changes to United Refining’s Warren facility have reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 62 percent from 2011 levels thanks to recent modifications,” according to a November DEP release.

The EPA notice indicates that a total of 1,080.664 tons of sulfur dioxide emitted in 2011 down to 644.379 tons projected in 2018.

In 2013, part of Warren County, including portions of the City of Warren and Conewango and Glade townships, were listed in a nonattainment area with respect to sulfur dioxide emissions.

The Warren Nonattainment Area was established based on testing in 2011 after Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards were made more stringent in 2010.

According to the EPA, a 2010 rule established a standard of 75 parts per billion and cited “numerous health studies demonstrating that serious health effects are associated with short-term exposure to (sulfur dioxide) emissions ranging from five minutes to 24 hours with an array of adverse respiratory effects including narrowing of the airways which can cause difficulty breathing and increased asthma symptoms.”

“The primary (sulfur dioxide)-emitting point source located within the Warren Area is United Refining, a petroleum refinery. United Refining consists of 29 main (sulfur dioxide) emitters, which include boilers, heaters, reboilers, compressors and flares,” according to the EPA notice.

“The compliance parameters include United Refining burning certain fuel types; monitoring; record-keeping and reporting; conducting emission testing; using De-Sox additive where appropriate and using continuous emissions monitoring systems.”

The notice also lays out procedures that will be followed when allowable amounts of emissions are exceeded.

A comment period on EPA’s proposed action is open through April 23.