Plant flares emit more pollutants than previously thought, the EPA reports

May 5, 2015 10:51 pm Published by

“A new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formula for calculating the amount of pollutants released by flares at refineries and chemical plants nationwide shows that those emissions are four times higher than previously thought.

The EPA said last week that the court-ordered update of a decades-old method used by the government and individual industrial facilities to calculate pollution releases will provide more accurate estimates of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds released by the flaring or burning of waste gases at those facilities.

The change was triggered by a 2013 lawsuit against the EPA by Environmental Integrity Project, a Washington, D.C., environmental enforcement advocacy organization.

The EPA said the new formula does not apply to, and should not be used by, the expanding oil and gas development sector, a grouping that encompasses thousands of wells and compressor stations that occasionally flare gases, or gas processing facilities that regularly flare. An example of the latter is an ethane “cracker” that Shell Chemical Appalachia, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, is considering building along the Ohio River in Monaca, Beaver County.

The Environmental Integrity Project said it was disappointed by the exclusion of the oil and gas sector and is considering further legal action”. Read more


Reference: Don Hopey, 2015 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Plant flares emit more pollutants than previously thought, the EPA reports” retrieved at


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