Delaware City Refinery Title V hearing, June 4, 2013
The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club submitted the public hearing request for PBF Energy’s Delaware City Refinery Title V permit, which was held on June 4, 2013 at the Delaware City Fire Hall. The Title V permit is a federal air pollution permit required by the Clean Air Act. It is only issued once every 5 years, and it includes limits for sources of hazardous air pollution.
Newspapers have reported between 1800 and 2000 people came out to the hearing, most of whom were refinery workers who arrived by buses provided by the Refinery. Because of the massive flooding of the hearing encouraged by the oil corporation, many Delaware residents and those concerned about the impacts of pollution on their health were not able to get inside to the hearing and speak. At our request, the hearing officer has extended the deadline for public comments by 30 days, to July 5, 2013. Click here to find out how to submit a public comment.
Sierra Club advocates for environmental justice, and we support the right to a clean and healthful environment for all people. We are supportive of workers' rights and unions both nationally and locally. Sierra Club co-founded the Blue Green Alliance with the United Steelworkers in 2006. We have fought on the front lines alongside our union partners to protect and expand collective bargaining rights, and we have worked closely with many unions around the country for safe and healthy workplaces and communities.
Despite misinformation circulated by the Delaware City Refinery to its employees, we did not request the hearing and participate to demand that the refinery be shut down, nor have we ever proposed that the state deny the Refinery a final Title V permit.
What we are asking for, and what we have always asked for, is that the Delaware City Refinery obey the law, that DNREC obey the law in its regulation and enforcement of air pollution rules and permits, and that the health of refinery workers, the children who attend school near the refinery, and Delawareans who live, work and recreate near the refinery be protected through the use of health and safety measures at the plant.
Health in Delaware has deteriorated, and toxic air pollution is an important cause of cancers, asthma and disease. The Title V permit draft circulated by DNREC, in its current form, is inadequate to protect public health. We ask that DNREC to provide environmental, health and safety measures for the protection of nearby communities, Delawareans, the Delaware River and the Coastal Zone.
- Air monitors: there is a need for air quality monitoring around the refinery, in residential neighborhoods and in between the refinery and schools so that we know the quality of our air 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, and not just during periods when the refinery does pilot project air monitoring. To protect public health from pollution and upsets at the refinery, we ask that the installation of a continuous real-time emission monitoring program at the fence-line of the refinery and in residential neighborhoods be a condition of this Title V permit.
- Plan to minimize flares: The refinery has not been required to develop a plan to reduce pollution when they flare. There is a need for a Flare Minimization Plan, and it should include backup power generation capacity to prevent flaring in the case of power failure.
- Emergency Response and Evacuation Plan: To protect the community, we ask for the collaborative development of a robust and easily accessible Emergency Response and Evacuation Plan that community members can reference in case of a major incident.
- Remove exemptions to regulations: We ask DNREC to remove exemptions for air pollution regulations, including exemptions for the startup and shut down of equipment at the refinery, and exemptions to regulations the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for sulfur dioxide.
- Long-term plan for petroleum coke: To protect the community from harmful emissions resulting from the gasification of petroleum coke, we ask that DNREC require the Delaware City Refinery to draft and publicize a long-term plan for the storage and removal of petroleum coke waste, which includes contingency plans if market conditions that make the export of petroleum coke to China advantageous change.
- End of fish kills: The refinery recently had a flaring event due to fish that clogged the cooling water intake. The permit for that water intake should have been renewed in 2002. The time for the refinery to address the problem of fish killed by the cooling system is long overdue. A new NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit should be required for the air pollution Title V permit.
- Chronic Violator Status: The refinery violates its permits too often, yet DNREC has not yet assigned them with “chronic violator status.” Designating the refinery with this special status would enable DNREC to issue bigger fines as a deterrent for treating penalties as part of the cost of doing business. The refinery is a chronic violator and deserves chronic violator status.
- Fee schedule for violations: Each time the refinery violates its permits, it is breaking the law. Yet DNREC has not made available to the public a schedule for the fines that it levies against the refinery. We are asking for transparency in the fines that the Refinery is forced to pay when it violates its permit, and we would like this fee schedule to be provided for public comment prior to issuing the Title V permit.