The Environmental Protection Agency has offered new options for controlling toxic air pollution from petroleum refineries. EPA estimates that its supplemental proposed rule, announced on Oct. 30, will cut 2,250 tons of such emissions a year.

The supplemental notice follows a proposal that EPA issued In August 2007, which would amend 1995 air-toxics standards at refineries in accordance with Clean Air Act provisions for residual risk and an eight-year technology review.

The new supplemental proposal calls for some storage tanks at petroleum refineries to meet regulations that EPA imposed in 1999. It also updates standards for maximum achievable control technology [MACT] at cooling towers. In addition, it would redefine “leak” and change leak-detection requirements and repair programs.

Industry officials at ENR press time were reviewing EPA’s latest proposal. “At this point...we haven’t had sufficient time to assess the impacts of the changes in this rule compared to the [2007] proposed rule,” says Matt Todd, American Petroleum Institute associate for regulatory and scientific affairs. API had supported no further action on EPA’s 2007 proposal after EPA found the level of risk in the current air-toxics rule to be acceptable. In its comments filed last December, API said, “EPA’s risk analysis demonstrates that the public is already protected with an ample margin of safety and that refineries pose little risk to the public.”

EPA said its analysis of emissions from petroleum refineries under the 1995 rule found “the level of risk in the current refinery rule to be acceptable.” For exposed populations, EPA said it found total annual cancer cases would be one in every 20 years and the highest maximum individual lifetime cancer risk at all refineries was 30 in 1 million.

Environmental groups, however, find the new proposal lacking. Eric Schaeffer, a former EPA official and now executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project, says, “We think the agency consistently and stubbornly underestimates the risks associated with these problems.” The group says the latest MACT provision does not do enough to protect public health. A 45-day comment period on the new proposal will begin after it is published in the Federal Register