According the Utah DAQ’s official documents, the refineries as a group, are the second largest industrial source of pollution after Rio Tinto/Kennecott (RTK) in Salt Lake and Davis Counties. Specifically, RTK is responsible for about 30% of Salt Lake County’s overall air pollution. The Holly oil refinery itself emits about one fifth the amount emitted by RTK. Chevron and Tesoro each emit about 60% of what Holly does.
UPHE has appealed the expansion of the Tesoro Refinery to the Utah Court of Appeals. You may view our appeal, prepared by the attorneys at Western Resource Advocates at:
From 2000 to 2010 Utah’s five refineries have reported fires, explosions, chemical releases and spill, both large and small, on average once every nine days. Numerous serious fires and explosions have occurred in the last few years including one that damaged 271 homes on Nov. 4, 2009. Serious safety lapses by SLC Tesoro refinery on Oct. 21, 2009 caused a flare stack explosion. [Read More]
Deadly Chemicals Used in Large Quantities
Three of Utah’s refineries (Chevron, Flying J and Holly) still use one of the most deadly chemicals known in large quantities. Hydrofluoric acid, or HF, is still used by 50 refineries across the nation despite decades-old warnings about the potential for mass casualties. Safer alternatives are available and have been adopted by two-thirds of the nation’s refineries. According to refinery owners’ worst case scenario reports, at least 16 million Americans live in the potential path of HF if it were to be released in an accident or a terrorist attack.
The EPA requires that every refinery that uses HF calculate what a worst case scenario would look like if an accident involving HF occurred at their refinery. Chevron calculated that 1.1 million people would be at risk and the potential radius of exposure would be 22 miles. For Flying J, it was 376,000 people at risk with a radius of exposure of 11 miles. For Holly it was 216,294 people at risk with a radius of 11 miles. [Read More]
Refinery Pollution is Uniquely Toxic
Crude oils contain over a thousand different hydrocarbons and, depending on the source of the oil, vary greatly in the relative amounts of individual hydrocarbons and trace metal and sulfur content. Refinery emissions are highly contaminated by HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) which are considered highly toxic in very small quantities. HAPs are primarily benzene-like compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins and heavy metals. [Read More]
Increase in Local Diesel Emissions
Refinery expansions will increase local diesel emissions from hundreds of new trucks coming in and out of the refineries carrying new crude oil. Two new studies, considered the best ever done on the toxicity of diesel emissions, confirmed that long term exposure to even low levels of diesel exhaust raises the risk of dying from lung cancer: for local residents about 50% and for refinery workers about 300%.
Nationwide Refinery Emissions Misreported to EPA
Nationwide refinery emissions are many times greater than what is reported to government agencies and the EPA knows it. According to the Associated Press, April 22, 2010, “The nation’s oil and chemical plants are spewing a lot more pollution than they report to the Environmental Protection Agency — and the EPA knows it. Records, scientific studies and interviews suggest pollution from petrochemical plants is at least 10 times greater than what is reported to the government and the public.” How come? The United States is using outdated measuring devices, not the lasers, solar technology and remote sensors used by European countries and Canada. Internal documents from the EPA confirm that, and other reports state that real emissions could be anywhere from 3 to 100 times greater than what is reported, primarily because valve leaks are much greater than what these older methods are detecting. There is every reason to believe that Utah refineries are also vastly under-reporting their real emissions.