Politics

Toxic gas emitters in Colorado drop their leakage numbers below strict legal thresholds


In 2020, Goodrich Carbon, the aerospace technology manufacturer, told the federal government that it had leaked 5,440 pounds of benzene into the air from its Pueblo plant the previous year, exposing the southern city of Colorado to one of the most toxic chemicals on Earth.

Early this year, Goodrich and large-scale toxic stimulants like it were on the verge of falling under an emissions law passed in 2020, and were resisting a tougher effort in the Colorado legislature.

The 2020 law said that those who emit more than 1,000 pounds of gasoline – a component of petroleum and coal that causes cancer, bone marrow failure and other diseases – had to set up risk alerts for their neighborhoods when they had a sudden spill event. The second law is under consideration by the State Council, currently proposed as House Bill 1189, Will require companies with the same level of toxic emissions to set up fence surveillance at their plants, and provide readings to researchers and the public.

So Goodrich Aerospace submitted reviews with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January, and sent them to the state’s air pollution control division in early March. This total 5,440 lbs? Goodrich officials said this was a mistake. They moved the decimal point over a few places and said, in fact, that it only emitted 32 pounds of gasoline in 2019.

“Therefore, the Goodrich Corp. Pueblo facility does not meet the definition of a“ covered facility ”and is not“ subject to the law. ”The oldest figure, 5,440 pounds, was still visible in the EPA Toxic Release Inventory database until last week.

Because the thresholds in state law depend on the companies’ self-reports in the federal database for gasoline and the list of other toxic chemicals, and because there is no independent monitoring, everything Goodrich says is what happens. Other Colorado companies have done the same.

Goodrich’s letter conducted similar self-reviews for gasoline in 2017 and 2018, and hydrogen cyanide in 2017 through 2019. Changes made to all gasoline lowered numbers below the statutory limit and freed Goodrich from any obligation to report to the public under the Colorado Act of 2020 ., House of Representatives 1265, or the proposed 2021 bill on monitoring the fence line.

A statement from Goodrich Carbon in response to questions about the revisions said the company discovered a miscalculation after replacing old equipment. The company said that the new equipment exports significantly less gasoline, so the previous report was wrong.

“When the state notified us that we would be part of the new toxin release program, we conducted an internal audit in 2020 of our Toxic Emissions Stocks and found that we had overreported some of our pollutant levels,” said a statement from the Cleaver. Senior Director of External Communications for Goodrich’s parent company Collins Aerospace, itself a North Carolina-based subsidiary of the international giant Raytheon.

“In 2005, we started moving to new, more efficient boilers at our Pueblo site. This multi-million dollar investment in new boiler technology allowed for better mitigation of pollutants, including gasoline. During the review, we found that we were calculating toxic release levels. We have based on emissions factors associated with our old boilers and did not take credit for using the new, cleaner boilers. ”

“Once our calculations were revised to reflect the new technology, the reported levels decreased proportionally. The new boiler technology is more efficient than the old boiler technology in combating pollution to the point that we have seen a significant reduction in pollution levels. These improvements were verified through actual testing of emissions from boiler stacks. And they weren’t just estimates, “according to Goodrich.

Goodrich / Collins said she does not know whether the Environmental Protection Agency has attempted to independently verify the new numbers before they are accepted into the database. “Ultimately, we turn to the Environmental Protection Agency for comment, but they definitely have the ability to review our corrections at their discretion,” Kellifer said.

The Colorado Sun has sent questions to EPA representatives about the company reviews and whether the agency is verifying them with independent analysis or oversight. The Environmental Protection Agency responded with a statement saying it was conducting “quality checks” for the reports, and that companies must provide reasons for their reviews.

Environmental activists, neighborhood groups and sponsoring lawmakers say such chemical facilities have polluted the air and water around their sites for decades without government control. They are now fighting over a series of new laws and permitting oversight that would cut those emissions and provide more information to neighbors and scientists about exactly what they’re putting in the air.

Two other major toxicants in Colorado, the Philips 66 petroleum product terminal in Commerce City and the Denver product terminal of Sinclair Oil Corporation, made similar reviews, leaving their versions below the limits originally written in the invoices to target the two of them, as well as Goodrich. And Suncor Refinery.

The Suncor County refinery, Adams County, which is the fourth major source of emissions targeted by the bills, has not performed reviews of its EPA reports. Environmental activists who track Suncor believe the company cannot make the revisions because it is subject to a stricter EPA rule for refineries that require fence line emissions to be monitored, and release these findings to the public.

A first hearing is scheduled for Thursday before the State Council’s Energy and Environment Committee on the proposed 2021 bill, which requires monitoring the boundary line for toxic emissions and sharing that data with the public.

Colorado environmental activists said reliance on self-reporting is nationally recognized by watchdogs as a failure of transparency and accountability.

It’s unbelievable, said Rebecca Carey, the Earth’s justice attorney, that Colorado companies can “just decide,” Oh, I don’t want to be covered by this legislation. The law allows them to enter and change their grade or rating themselves. ”Earthjustice is a non-profit national environmental law organization that helps Colorado groups fight toxic emissions.

Carey said she had to agree when she read another environmental advocate describing the entire EPA Toxics Release Inventory listing as a collection of “wild guesses.”

Outraged advocates of self-reported revisions say they will now amend their new bill to eliminate emissions thresholds and make the law applicable to all refiners, aircraft parts makers and anyone reporting any level of gasoline emissions in the past.

The Phillips 66 petroleum product distribution terminal in the commercial city was also one of the biggest toxicants targeted by both the 2020 law and the 2021 bill.

Commerce City Philips first reported to the National Environmental Protection Agency database that 2017 gasoline emissions at the site were a total of 1,010 pounds, according to data taken from the database by Earthjustice. (When the EPA accepts the reviews and enters them into the database, past numbers can disappear from Toxic Release Stock Reports.)

Phillips’ November 2020 review put the amount of 2017 gasoline releases in the business city at £ 723.

A Philips 66 Colorado spokesperson sent a statement about their reviews:

“After evaluating our TRI emissions reports for the Phillips 66 Denver Terminal, we discovered a data entry error that led to some emissions data for the years 2015-2017 overreported. In November 2020, we reported the error to the EPA of During the electronic disclosure process to the agency and to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Phillips 66 corrected the error and recognized the importance of accurately reporting emissions. ”

The Sinclair Commercial City distribution station originally reported to the Environmental Protection Agency that gasoline emissions were 1,000 pounds in 2017, 2018, and 2019, according to Earthjustice Groups.

In December, Sinclair filed a review of those numbers with the Environmental Protection Agency and sent them to the Air Pollution Control Division, changing 2017 gasoline emissions to 988.3 pounds. The new reporting requirements illustrated in Colorado bills date back to 2017 as the first year that the minimums are established.

The Sinclair revisions also set gasoline emissions for 2018 at 945.7 pounds, and 2019 at 974.8 pounds, again just below the 1,000-pound threshold in state law.

In its December review, Sinclair said its previous disclosure of 1,000 pounds for the 2017-2019 period was a “range”, and it now has specific and measured issue numbers. The only changes made were the introduction of actual digital firing quantities in place of the range codes. These reviews show that the reported releases of gasoline, for each of the reporting years from 2017 to 2019, are under 1,000 pounds / year, ”the email said to the state.

A Sinclair spokesman did not respond to questions about the revisions on Wednesday.

The Colorado Air Pollution Monitoring Division, responding to questions about the revisions and whether it has attempted to verify them, said, “Toxic release stockpile is a federal program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, and thus the federal government sets reporting rules. Regulations. ”

The EPA declined to be interviewed about its revisions policy, and instead issued a statement saying that it “conducts comprehensive data quality checks for the data submitted annually” in the TRI system. An example provided by the statement was, a company reported a significantly different number from previous years and the Environmental Protection Agency called the company and suggested that they verify it.

“Note that facilities reviewing their original reporting forms must indicate the reason (s) for the review in their reporting form,” the EPA said.

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