Vopak Agrees Texas Clean Air Settlement

  • (c) Len Green/Shutterstock(c) Len Green/Shutterstock

Dutch oil and chemicals storage group Vopak has agreed measures with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, to cut emissions and improve environmental compliance at its Deer Park, Texas, facility following several violations.

EPA, DoJ and the state of Texas alleged that Vopak failed to comply with Clean Air Act requirements to properly manage equipment, which resulted in excess emissions of acetone, benzene, styrene and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at the bulk chemical storage terminal and wastewater facility.

The terminal generates storm water and process wastewater that contain VOCs, which Vopak treats at the site’s wastewater plant. Inspections by the EPA in 2012, 2014 and 2015 identified, among other things, leaking tanks, inefficient flares and process equipment, such as open-top tanks and VOC/water separators that were releasing excess VOC emissions.

Under the agreement, Vopak will install air pollution controls at the wastewater treatment plant and infrared cameras to detect harmful pollution from the chemical storage tanks that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. It must specify operational requirements for the flares to ensure adequate combustion and instigate an inspection and repair program. Vopak is also required to engage a third-party auditor to improve its waste management and monitor compliance with the agreement.

Both the DoJ and EPA said the settlement will bring Vopak into compliance with federal and state clean air laws and will result in improved air quality for local residents. EPA estimates that the cost of the measures is approximately $5 million. Vopak must also pay a civil penalty of $2.5 million, half of which will go to the state of Texas.

The agreement, reached on May 17, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

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