Rain CII explains emission spikes at council meeting

Mar 22nd, 2013 | By | Category: News

Rain CII CEO Gerry Sweeney and Valero Refinery HSE Director Randall Brown went over heightened emission data with the St. Bernard Parish Council at their March 20 meeting, and both companies said they are taking comprehensive steps to see their emissions numbers drop.

However, the bulk of Rain CII’s emissions improvements— achieved through sulphur dioxide scrubbing— will not be completed until March of 2016, as plans are still being finalized.

“Hopefully in the next six months, we will have something worked out to lessen spikes by a stack reconfiguration,” said Sweeney.

Last week Rain CII, a Calcine Petroleum Coke plant, admitted they were responsible for the majority of the
sulphur dioxide spikes seen over the last few months, but stressed that the levels recorded were not higher than the hourly limit on their air quality permit. But that permit is in the process of being changed by the Department of Environmental Quality to be more in line with federal air quality standards that were updated in 2010. Rain CII is currently emitting roughly 3,500 tons of sulphur dioxide per year, but their permit limit is 7,000 tons per year. The plant currently is in conversation with the Department of Environmental Quality to determine what level the facility is now permitted to emit under the new federal guidelines.

“What we have been emitting is within our permits, and we have been talking with the DEQ for at least 18
months,” said Sweeney. “Our emissions rate varies quite a bit, we could be up to 2,000 pounds [of product] per hour, and depending on the sulphur blend we’re using we could be down to 1,000, we’re going to bring in the capability to bring us down to a level that the parish, based on modeling, will always be in attainment.”

Sweeney says they have to work with the DEQ to determine what number Rain CII is responsible for to bring the parish to that attainment level, or level that puts them into compliance with federal air quality standards.

“We’re going to have capabilities to scrub 90 percent [of sulphur dioxide emissions] but where we actually have to scrub through is something we have to work out with the DEQ,” he said.

He added that the new capabilities will allow operators to monitor emissions levels in real-time, to let them know when they are getting close to the permit limit. The company also addressed residents reports of sulphur odors, which many have been attributing to Rain CII. Sweeney says that Rain CII is a sulphur dioxide emitter, but sulphur dioxide has the odor of a burnt match.

“A lot of complaints have been a rotten egg, or chemical smell, but we’re not producing anything odoriferous
other than sulphur dioxide,” Sweeney explained. “If people are complaining about heavy burnt match smell,
please contact us.”

Sweeney says that a big part of helping the parish come into that attainment level is the other refineries in the area also scaling back their emissions.

“I believe that if we weren’t here the parish still wouldn’t be at that attainment level, so its going to take
other facilities lowering emissions, and that will help us determine what we’ll do,” said Sweeney.

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