Harmful Soot Goes Out of Control as Big Oil Battles EPA for Testing | Local company

“It is inappropriate to wait more than 30 years to protect people from this form of pollution while you are trying to perfect a test,” Karras said.

If condensable soot were ultimately regulated, it would force nearly all of the country’s 135 oil refineries to invest in new pollution control equipment, based on current emissions estimates using the contested test method of the EPA.

San Francisco is rife

Soot is made up of particles several times smaller than a grain of sand that can enter the lungs and bloodstream if inhaled. The EPA regulates the solid forms of soot, which are easily measured by filtering the emissions from the chimneys. But since condensable soot is gaseous in the chimney, it is more difficult to quantify.

The EPA’s current test for condensable soot, called Method 202, uses probes and glass tubes placed inside refinery stacks to collect samples of the gas stream. It shows that individual U.S. refineries can emit up to hundreds of tonnes of pollutants per year, sometimes accounting for nearly half of a refinery’s total soot emissions, according to a Reuters review of regulatory documents filed by oil companies.

The material reviewed by the news agency dates from 2017 to 2021 and includes the results of Method 202 tests that some refineries have ordered to meet local requirements or as part of a dispute.