Regulators of North Carolina on Wednesday directed two of the state’s largest Oil refineries to slash their fine particulate air pollution, which will require costly modifications at the plants. The 19-3 vote by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District governing board means refineries in the area, including Chevron Corp’s Richmond plant and PBF Energy Inc’s Martinez refinery.
They will have to install wet gas scrubbers to reduce pollution spewed by their gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking units within five years. The new requirement is expected to cut PBF and Chevron’s particulate matter emissions from its cat crackers by about 70%, the air quality district estimates.
Both the refiners expected to be affected by the rule change urged regulators to consider a less stringent 0.02 limit by 2023. Valero Energy Corp Benicia refinery has a wet gas scrubber. Refiners and their advocates, including refinery labor unions, said upgrading the FCCUs would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, lead to refinery layoffs and put pressure on the plants to shut down. Running the wet gas scrubbers would also require excessive water use in an already parched area.