Petroleum Refining - Industry Standard under the Local Air Quality Regulation (O. Reg. 419/05)
EBR Registry Number:
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Date Decision loaded to the Registry:
July 28, 2016
Date Proposal loaded to the Registry:
March 09, 2016
Keyword(s):Air | Standard
Related Act(s):Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Regulating air contaminants from industrial sources is a priority in Ontario. Ontario’s local air quality regulation (O. Reg. 419/05: Air Pollution – Local Air Quality) works within the province’s air management framework by regulating air contaminants released into communities by various sources including local industrial and commercial facilities.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (the "ministry”) regulates contaminants in air because we want to be protective of communities who live close to industrial sources.
Ontario drives improvements in environmental performance through investments in best available technologies and environmental practices. Our unique regulatory approach is to set standards that are protective of human health, and to use these standards to evaluate the performance of industrial facilities. Those facilities that can meet the air standards do not need to take any further actions and, in this way, resources are focused exactly where needed to reduce risks to local communities.
Facilities that are not able to meet an air standard may request a site-specific or technical standard. These standards require companies to invest in the best available technologies and practices to reduce air emissions and improve air quality over time. These standards are all about getting new investments in modern air pollution controls with the goal of minimizing air pollution over time. The ministry closely oversees the companies’ progress to ensure they are achieving the desired results. We have seen improvements to address air emissions as a result of our regulatory approach.
Site-specific and technical standards are developed with full public transparency through public meetings and consultations. The ministry consults the public on all applications for site-specific and technical standards and public input plays an integral role in the ministry’s review of proposals.
On February 12, 2012, the Canadian Fuels Association approached the ministry with a request to develop a proposed Technical Standard under O. Reg. 419/05 for Ontario petroleum refineries to address emissions of benzene and benzo[a]pyrene. Air standards for both these contaminants came into effect on July 1, 2016.
A technical standard is a technology-based compliance approach designed when two or more facilities in a sector are not able to meet one or more air standards due to technical or economic limitations.
When the ministry develops a technical standard, representative facilities in the sector are compared to other facilities' requirements around the world to determine whether or not the same can be required of Ontario facilities. In addition, development of a technical standard includes a better understanding of the specific sources of contaminant(s) for that sector, benchmarking technology to address the sources of contaminant(s), and consideration of economic issues that relate to the sector. Once key sources are identified, the ministry looks to other jurisdictions such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) for technology requirements.
As a result of consultation on this proposal, the following key additions or changes have been made to the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard .
Phase-in of More Stringent Requirements for Benzene Levels
The industry standard will initially require the following to be assessed:
for Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR), components that contain at least 2.0 % benzene by weight (i.e. these components are in benzene service);
for storage tanks containing products and liquids that contain at least 2% benzene by weight (i.e. these tanks are in benzene service).
Based on comments received by two First Nations communities, and supported by other comments, the following more stringent requirements will be phased in by 2025:
LDAR rules will apply to all components that contain at least 0.8 %benzene by weight (i.e. these components are in benzene service);
storage tanks containing products and liquids that contain at least 1% benzene by weight (i.e. these tanks are in benzene service).
The ministry remains committed to conducting a review of the effectiveness of this industry standard in 2023 (before these requirements take effect). If this review demonstrates the rules that apply to equipment with 2% benzene in service are sufficient, the ministry will consider removing the newer set of requirements before they take effect July 1, 2025. If the review shows that more could be done, or if no action is taken, the above requirements will remain in effect.
Incremental Approach that Targets Resources and Effort to the Most Significant Sources of Air Emission
The development of the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard involved a comprehensive and transparent process including,
a detailed review of current air emissions and point of impingement concentrations of benzene and benzo[a]pyrene;
a dispersion modelling and on-site monitoring effort to identify the most significant sources of air emissions within the petroleum refineries;
a technology and jurisdictional review of best available air pollution control methods;
an experts’ review to support efforts by representatives of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation (AFN) and Walpole Island First Nation (WIFN) to assess the appropriateness of the development of the proposed Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard.
The overall goal of these efforts was to develop a Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard that targets resources and effort to the most significant sources of benzene and benzo[a]pyrene air emissions from Ontario petroleum refineries. Based upon an assessment of the overall risk and experience with implementing air pollution rules in a variety of situations, the ministry believes that a combination of an incremental approach (e.g., initially focusing on sources that include at least 2 percent by weight benzene); on-going monitoring and auditing; collaboration with affected communities; and a planned review of performance is the most appropriate approach to ensure the implementation of best available air pollution control; the best use of resources; and continuous improvement.
Embedded in the Petroleum Refining - Industry Standard are a combination of compliance approaches that link together to form a strategy ensuring that:
Facilities have greater accountability for self-assuring compliance and driving continuous improvement;
Ministry oversight is applied by including triggers that require notification to the ministry, and follow up actions, when necessary, and
There is awareness and accountability through reporting of key performance elements to the highest ranking individual.
The publication entitled: “Technical Standards to Manage Air Pollution” (“Technical Standards Publication”) has been updated to include the Petroleum Refining - Industry Standard. The Technical Standard Publication is available on the ministry's website and through the ministry’s Public Information Centre.
Requirements of the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard only apply to sites and contaminants that a facility registers for. The ministry maintains a list of facilities that are registered under a technical standard: the list is posted on the ministry website so that the public is aware of the compliance requirements for these facilities. In addition, each request for registration under a technical standard is posted on the Environmental Registry for a minimum 45 days of public comment.
Comment(s) Received on the Proposal:
Public Consultation on the proposal for this decision was provided for 90 Days, from March 09, 2016 to June 07, 2016.
As a result of public consultation on the proposal, the Ministry received a total of 20 comments: 19 comments were received in writing and 1 were received online.
Additionally, a copy of all comments are available for public viewing by contacting the Contact person listed in this notice.
A selection of these comments are available:
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Effect(s) of Consultation on this Decision:
All comments received during the comment period, whether by email, regular mail, or the Environmental Registry website were considered as part of the decision making process by the ministry.
Twenty comments were received: two (2) from industry, sixteen (16) from first nations and two (2)
from environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs).
In addition, on May 5, 2016, the ministry hosted a stakeholder meeting which included industry, some first nations, public health units and environmental non-government organizations. An overview of the proposed Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard was provided with an opportunity for stakeholders to provide comments and ask questions of the ministry.
The following are highlights for key comments received and how they were considered by the ministry in finalizing the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard.
Building trust in the Community
There is a historical record of lack of trust in the community. The MOECC and the community need to start rebuilding trust. Aamjiwnaang First Nation (AFN) and Walpole Island First Nation (WIFN) are requesting support for a greater involvement in the implementation of these technical standards to help build this trust.
The ministry has initiated several things to help build trust. In the case of this Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard, in 2014 the ministry invited representatives from AFN and WIFN to participate in a technical committee with industry to develop the requirements in an open and transparent manner. In response to First Nations concerns regarding their lack of technical capacity to engage in discussions regarding the technical standards, the ministry hired jurisdictional experts to provide information to both the ministry and the First Nations communities on the most stringent air pollution requirements for US petroleum refineries (and Germany).
Part of the ministry’s ongoing efforts to build more trust includes:
Supporting the request from the AFN and WIFN for greater involvement in the implementation of the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard . The ministry believes that this will provide an important part of ensuring that the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard achieves its objective of minimizing exposure to benzene and benzo[a]pyrene air emissions from the petroleum refineries that are in the vicinity of the traditional lands.
Working with the AFN and WIFN by providing capacity funding to assist them in their desired role.
A collaborative project including the AFN and WIFN to verify air quality improvements through exploring various monitoring techniques with a team of experts including representatives from industry, the ministry, US EPA and Environment Canada.
New requirements for property-line monitoring of benzene to provide important information to the ministry, industry and surrounding communities and to assist in determining if additional air pollution control requirements will be required in the future.
The property-line ambient monitors will regularly measure and report on benzene concentrations and the information will be made available on a public website thereby enhancing public transparency.
Adopting the recommendations of the technical expert’s to include 0.8% and 1.0% benzene in service levels for LDAR and storage tanks respectively by 2025. Phasing in more stringent requirements will encourage a technical review of performance of this sector by 2023 or sooner. This review will help determine whether or not additional efforts are required.
Provided capacity funding to AFN to help them assess their desired role in future engagement with the ministry on behalf of their community.
In addition, the ministry will continue to work with AFN and WIFN on common issues of interest.
Clarification of various aspects of the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard
Comment: Industry comments focused on clarification of various technical aspects of the proposal and making sure they understood the legal requirements.
Response: The following is a summary of the most substantive changes that were made based on comments from industry:
Updated requirements for floating roofs for API separators to better reflect the US EPA rules [40CFR60 subpart QQQ].
Clarification on the number of property-line monitors required (number of monitors can vary depending on the size of the property).
Clarification that product loading operations that occur on the same property are included in the technical standard (even though these facilities operate under a different NAICS code). However, product loading operations that occur on separate properties are not considered part of this technical standard.
LDAR surveys (excluding heavy liquid service) are required three times per year, once in April – June, once in July – September, once in October – December. If a leak is identified using an OGI instrument, the concentration shall be measured using a portable gas detector (US EPA Method 21) or other method. A ‘drill and tap’ repair method is not required prior to adding a component to a “delay of repair” list;
Removal of flare tip velocity and net heating value requirements for flares used as air pollution control devices (i.e., these requirements are anticipated to result in minimal reductions in benzene air emissions relative to their cost).
Note: removing the flaring requirements for benzene means there is no longer a need to develop a technical bulletin to set out protocols to monitor the effective operation of flares used as air pollution control devices.
The requirements in the technical standard should be applied more broadly so as to capture more sources
Two First Nations communities in the Sarnia area received the following recommendations from technical experts that were hired by the ministry to help support their involvement in the development of the proposed technical standard (TS):
The proposed TS for LDAR is limited to process streams containing 2.0% or more benzene by weight and only applies to approximately 2% of the potential benzene leaks from all process streams. lf this rule, however, was applied to process streams containing greater than or equal to 0.8% of benzene as well as all streams containing gasoline, then the rule would cover 95% of the potential benzene emissions.
With respect to storage tanks, the proposed rules are limiting controls to tanks containing products and liquids with more than or equal to 2.0 % benzene by weight. Recommend that the applicability be extended to include tanks greater than or equal to 1.0% benzene by weight along with all tanks containing gasoline. While gasoline tanks have a lower benzene level, the number of tanks involved represents a significant source of benzene emissions.
Along the same lines as storage tanks, the proposed TS for product loading should be expanded to include all gasoline and products containing greater than or equal to 1.0% benzene by weight.
Also recommended that for waste water that the proposed controls apply to every site without exception. All drains should be equipped with water seals. Junction boxes and sewer lines should be covered. Also, the Dissolved Air Flotation Units should be covered along wíth the API separator by a fixed roof.
The First Nations would encourage the adoption of these recommendations into the proposed Technical Standard in order to meet the best available air pollution controls or ALARA (as low as reasonable achievable) principle, especially the ones dealing with LDAR and storage tanks.
The ministry has responded to these suggestions as follows:
LDAR rules will apply to all components that are in benzene service and contain at least 0.8 % benzene by weight will be phased in by July 1, 2025.
Rules for storage tanks containing products and liquids that contain the at least 1% benzene by weight will be phased in to apply by July 1, 2025.
The requirements for Floating Roofs for API separators have been updated to better reflect the US EPA 40CFR60 subpart QQQ.
The ministry remains committed to conducting a review of the effectiveness of this industry standard starting in 2023 (before these requirements take effect). If this review demonstrates the rules that apply to equipment with 2% benzene in service are sufficient, the ministry will consider removing the newer set of requirements before they take effect July 1, 2025. If the technical review of the sector’s performance shows that more could be done, or if no action is taken, the requirements will remain in effect.
Ontario has recognized the toxicity of benzene and committed to setting a benzene air quality standard for at least 16 years
Although benzene has been recognized as a human carcinogen for over 25 years, Ontario has been extremely slow to create legally binding air quality standards for benzene. As a result, communities with clusters of benzene-emitting industrial facilities, such as Aamjiwnaang, have been exposed to high levels of benzene for a long time. In short, it took Ontario 11 years to finally set a benzene standard after first announcing its standard-setting process. It has taken an additional five years to bring that standard into force, during which the Upper Risk Threshold (URT) has been set at an unusually high level. The proposed industry standards for the petroleum refining and petrochemical sectors would phase-in compliance requirements over an extended period of time, further delaying requirements to reduce benzene emissions.
The ministry acknowledges that the regulatory tools to address local benzene air emissions from industrial sources have taken a long time to develop. The discussions regarding a benzene air standard began during a period where a regulatory framework to address new or more stringent air standards was still under development. Benzene is a prime example of why there was a need to develop an effective regulatory framework to manage risks. Benzene is a widely-used chemical that is found naturally in crude oil and gasoline, and is released in the air from vehicle exhaust, gasoline stations, tobacco smoke and industrial emissions. Part of the many challenges in developing the local air quality regulation was developing a system that addressed implementation challenges for both large industrial facilities as well as small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Technical solutions and costs can vary significantly by sector. Prior to 2005, the response to addressing implementation barriers for new or updated air standards was to set air standards that considered general province-wide economic factors and general technical feasibility. The result was to set province-wide air standards based on achievability by the facilities or sectors that were challenged to meet the standard. This approach changed significantly in 2005, with the introduction of Ontario’s current Local Air Quality regulation (O. Reg. 419/05: Air Pollution – Local Air Quality), which sets provincial air standards to protect human health and the environment. We use these standards to evaluate the performance of industrial facilities and those facilities that can meet the air standards do not need to take any further actions. In this way, resources are focused exactly where needed to reduce risks to local communities.
Facilities that do not meet air standards are expected to work to reduce their air emissions as much as possible with technology-based solutions and best practices – similar to what is identified in this Petroleum Refining - Industry Standard. This framework for managing risk was developed in cooperation with Public Health Units in Ontario and other stakeholders through extensive consultation that began around the same time the ministry published the Standards Plan. The regulatory framework acknowledges that although air standards should be set at values that do not consider implementation issues, it may not be possible for all facilities to be able to meet these air standards. The regulatory framework introduced the site-specific and technical standards compliance approaches that allow the ministry to work with facilities to reduce exposures in local communities by setting technology-based standards. These requirements are established in an open and transparent process that encourages communities to be informed about the actions facilities are taking to achieve compliance with the regulation and to provide them opportunities to provide input.
Concern about current levels of benzene and benzo-a-pyrene in the community – what are the health effects and why haven’t levels decreased?
Comment: Comments include:
Benzene concentrations in the Aamjiwnaang area are already high and have not decreased since the air quality standard was set.
Scientists have identified adverse health effects at benzene levels that are present in ambient air in Sarnia and Aamjiwnaang.
The community already suffers health problems.
The Ministry is encouraged to study this risk before it can determine what actions are needed and what amount of emission reductions are necessary to protect community members’ health. Without this analysis, they feel Ministry cannot possibly know if community members’ health is being adversely affected at present, and if the measures proposed will be adequate to avoid serious risks to health.
The technical standard is intended to reduce benzene exposure in the community. The ministry has done extensive work to assess current levels of benzene in three ways: 1) a multi-source assessment of all benzene sources; 2) a review of monitoring data; and 3) an assessment of each individual facility’s contribution to overall concentrations. These assessments have informed the development of the technical standard and are summarized below. This information can also serve as a baseline to compare against future levels of benzene once the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard requirements are in effect and can be used as supporting information in future community based assessments.
As part of the development of this Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard , the ministry conducted a multi-source assessment of benzene emissions that included both industrial (including sources on the US side) and non-industrial sources such as transportation sources (roads, marine traffic, etc). This was shared with the community and included in the rationale document (see Figure 7-1). The multi-source assessment showed that benzene from industrial sources is emitted from low level fugitive sources and hence there were not a lot of overlapping plumes or cumulative impacts. The ministry compared the multi-source modelling results against the monitoring values available at the time of the assessment and this showed similar values. However, the 2014 annual average monitoring data showed a higher annual average than other years.
In July 2015, the ministry released a summary of six years of monitoring data. The findings show the 2014 annual average benzene concentration at Aamjiwnaang represented a 9.2 per cent increase from the previous highest annual average observed in the first year of monitoring (2008/2009). Although the ambient monitoring data for 2014 suggests an increase in benzene concentrations, it is anticipated that the incremental cancer risk from overall benzene exposure is in the range of 1:100,000 or less. The province’s 2014 Ambient Air Quality report showed that overall Sarnia’s air quality has improved over the past 10 years, however, there is more that can be done to support improved air quality in the community.
The ministry individually assessed the contribution of each facility’s benzene emissions. The assessment showed that the benzene annual average point of impingement concentrations (i.e., along the property-line) for five of six Ontario petroleum refineries are estimated to be between three and ten times the benzene air quality standard of 0.45 micrograms per cubic metre, annual average that came into force on July 1, 2016. This represents an incremental cancer risk from petroleum refining operations is in the range of 1:100,000 or less.
The air standard for benzene is set based on a concentration in air equivalent to a one in one million risk of cancer, based on an assumed continuous lifetime exposure. In occupational settings, long-term exposure to benzene in air has been linked to leukemia. However, these workers were exposed to levels far greater than the levels normally encountered by the general population. For this reason, it is recognized as a compound that produces cancer in humans. Exposure to a contaminant at a concentration above the air standard does not mean adverse health effects will occur, but it does mean the risk may increase. The above information suggests that an incremental cancer risk from petroleum refining (and petrochemical) operations is in the range of 1:100,000 or less. Some jurisdictions use a 1:100,000 incremental cancer risk rather than the more stringent 1:1,000,000 incremental cancer risk (that is used in Ontario) to set an air quality standard for a carcinogen such as benzene. Jurisdictions such as the US use a 1:1,000,000 incremental cancer risk as a broader regulatory goal and air pollution control objective.
The technical standard compliance approach aims to reduce health and environmental risks and exposure to emissions in local communities. Facilities registered to a technical standard will have to act to reduce the exposure to as low as reasonably achievable by meeting the requirements of a technical standard. This will require them to use the best available controls and practices to reduce the risk to public health and continue to operate responsibly.
The technical standards are an opportunity for Ontario to establish stronger regulations to reduce Benzene emissions with the ultimate goal of achieving a healthier and safer environment for community members who live close to these facilities. The ministry does not see the need to delay moving forward with technical rules that will impose stronger technical requirements on registered facilities that will lead to real emission reductions. Comments from community members acknowledge that, “After decades of benzene exposure, likely exceeding the health-based criterion, the proposed Technical standard is a step in the right direction”. However, the ministry acknowledges that there will be a need to assess performance of this industry standard in terms of reduced exposures from benzene emissions in the affected communities. The ministry has committed to reviewing the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard effectiveness in 2023.
The ongoing high levels of benzene and other contaminants contributes to environmental injustice in Aamjiwnaang and the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard and Petrochemical – Industry Standard will perpetuate this injustice
Comment: The concept of “environmental justice” refers to the links between concepts of health risks posed by environmental hazards and other social determinants of health, such as race and income. It seeks to draw attention to and address the tendency for communities with low socio-economic status and communities belonging to historically disadvantaged groups to be disproportionately exposed to and impacted by environmental hazards. While this trend is evident across the country, 41 academics, lawyers, and scientists have recognized that the situation in Aamjiwnaang represents one of the clearest examples of environmental injustice in Canada. The Environmental Commissioner’s Office (ECO) 2013/2014 annual report was highly critical of the ministry’s efforts to date to reduce air quality impacts on Aamjiwnaang and its residents.
Environmental justice has gained much recognition in the United States and is an emerging issue for Ontario. The ministry is currently seeking recommendations from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including some First Nations, on how to consider these issues in the context of cumulative air emissions from multiple sources. However, the issue is also much broader than the local air quality regulation and may need input from other areas of government.
Technical standards are an inappropriate approach to regulating air pollution from the petroleum refining and petrochemical sectors
Environmental organization stakeholders have concerns with the proposed use of technical standards for large industrial facilities in Ontario. They feel that, originally, technical standards were introduced as a compliance approach mainly for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with similar issues. The approach was justified because the cost to SMEs to pursue a site-specific standard was too great a burden and another option needed to be created. They raised concerns that this compliance approach is evolving beyond its original scope. If the ministry wants to impose technical requirements on the petroleum refining and petrochemical sectors they can still do so through guidance documents that could be used during the Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) process, as was done for incinerators.
The technical standards compliance approach has evolved since it was first introduced in December, 2009. The first application of technical standards to larger facilities was in 2014 [see the Pulp and Paper – Industry Standard (see EBR 011-8107)]. The rationale for this change has been discussed with stakeholders. The technical standard compliance approach was developed to consider situations where multiple facilities in one or more sectors were challenged to meet one or more air standards and where technical solutions to better manage air pollution were readily identifiable and practical to implement. Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) generally fit the above criteria better since their processes are often better understood and likely have more common solutions amongst facilities. Larger facilities may have similar emissions but also have more variability in the production process. In considering whether or not a technical standard compliance approach is appropriate, the key issue is to determine whether or not there is enough commonality within the sector upon which to regulate activities. This assessment must be sector-specific. Technical standards consider appropriate technical solutions for key sources of contaminants and if appropriate can be used for any sector.
In the case of the petroleum refining sector, the dominant source analysis showed that the dominant contributors to point of impingement concentrations of benzene were storage vessels, equipment leaks, wastewater treatment operations and product loading. These were all common sources in the sector and although these results varied slightly with each facility, any facility that chooses to register to the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard for their compliance approach would be subject to the same requirements.
This Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard also includes common performance limits. Performance limits are legal requirements that act as indicators for the need to take corrective actions. Although the corrective actions to be taken may vary with each facility, the performance limits become the common basis upon which to regulate activities in this sector. The ministry is still working with stakeholders to address when and how a technical standard would be reviewed and questions pertaining to “residual risk”.
Sector-based issues are best addressed on a broader policy basis. This consultation process has led to clear sector-based rules in the Petroleum Refining – Industry Standard . The ECA process is generally intended to address individual approvals on a site-specific basis. The ECA process is not intended to replace the regulation making process.
This proposed Petrochemical – Industry Standard would also apply to 1,3-butadiene, which is also carcinogenic as is benzene and benzo[a]pyrene. The government has not studied the health risks posed by the requirements of the Petrochemical – Industry Standard for benzene and 1,3-butadiene individually, let alone considered the cumulative health risks posed by residents’ exposure to both of these substances which are emitted by multiple facilities surrounding their community. This is to say nothing of their cumulative effects in combination with other contaminants – including known carcinogens – also emitted by these facilities.
The ministry is currently seeking recommendations from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including some First Nations, on how to consider these issues in the context of cumulative air emissions from multiple air sources. However, the issue is also much broader than the local air quality regulation and may need input from other areas of government.
In the meantime, the ministry has considered the cumulative exposures from benzene sources in a multi-source modelling assessment which has been shared with external groups. This multi-source modelling assessment for benzene involved low level fugitive sources and hence there were not a lot of overlapping plumes. The combined effects from multiple carcinogenic substances could be considered as part of the ministry’s review of the technical standards in 2023.
Registration Process for Technical Standards:
Facilities that are part of the petroleum refining sector will have one year from the date of publication of the technical standard to decide whether or not to register for contaminants of interest under this new compliance approach. The ministry is developing a registration process for facilities that are interested in pursuing registration for this sector. Further details will be made available on the ministry website.
Engineering Specialist - Air Standards & Risk Assessment
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Environmental Sciences and Standards Division
Standards Development Branch
Technology Standards Section
40 St. Clair Avenue West Floor 7 & 9 Toronto Ontario M4V 1M2
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