Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Gas Tank Standards, Train Rules, Chevron Fines

by | Aug 7, 2013

The EPA issued updates on Monday to its April 2012 oil and natural gas standards for storage tanks. The updates will phase in emission control deadlines, starting with higher-emitting tanks first. Storage tanks emitting 6 or more tons of VOCs a year must reduce emissions by 95 percent, with deadlines of April 2014 or 2015, depending on when the tank came online. The EPA also established an alternative emissions limit for some smaller tanks. The agency said it is making the changes based on recent information, showing more storage tanks will come online than it had expected.

Chevron Corp. has agreed to $2 million in fines and restitution after pleading no contest to six misdemeanor charges, including environmental violations and failure to maintain equipment in safe working order, related to an August 2012 explosion and fire at its Richmond, Calif., refinery. Chevron will also be on probation for 3 1/2 years. After the incident, over 15,000 local residents went to hospitals complaining of respiratory problems. A spokesman said the company is spending millions to expand its air monitoring system.

The US Federal Railroad Administration has issued an emergency order requiring train operators moving hazardous materials, such as crude oil and ethanol, to undertake half a dozen safety measures in the next month. The measures are designed to help prevent trains from moving unintentionally, Fuel Fix reports. The order comes less than a month after a parked Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train derailed and crashed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

A US district judge has upheld the Interior Department’s approval of Shell’s oil spill response plans for its Arctic drilling program. Conservation groups said the approval violated the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

The Japanese government will intervene to help stabilize the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which is pouring out 300 metric tons of radioactive water into the Pacific each day, Reuters reports. Prime minister Shinzo Abe did not say what Tokyo would do to help the plant, whose troubles stem from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami two and a half years ago, but trade ministry officials said the government would likely help pay for a $400 million wall of ice, the New York Times reported, citing local media.

The latest version of the EPA’s RE-Powering Mapping and Screening Tool provides preliminary screening results for renewable energy potential at 66,000 contaminated land, landfill and mine sites, up from 24,000. The agency worked together with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop screening criteria for solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal potential.

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