EPA Proposes Rule On Toxic Chemical Reporting For Gas Processors

EPA Floats Rule On Toxic Chemical Reporting For Gas Plants by Juan Carlos Rodriguez, January 6, 2017, Law360

EPA proposes adding gas processors to toxics inventory by Gabriel Dunsmith, January 5, 2017, E & E News

Natural gas processing plants would be required to report chemical discharges on U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory under a U.S. EPA proposal set for publication tomorrow in the Federal Register.

The proposed rule would add to the inventory about 282 facilities that recover liquid hydrocarbons from oil and gas field gases.

“Adding these facilities would meaningfully increase the information available to the public on releases and other waste management of listed chemicals from the natural gas processing sector,” the proposal says.

Among chemicals used by such facilities [And what about the mystery frac chemicals?]:

n-Hexane, an oil derivative linked to partial paralysis and nerve damage.

Hydrogen sulfide, which causes nausea and is fatal at high concentrations.

[H2S Reality Check:

The recommended limit of 10 ppm does not guarantee worker safety. If should not be used as a guideline demarcating safe and dangerous concentrations of hydrogen sulfide. Because of wide variations in individual susceptibility some workers may experience problems at concentrations at or below the threshold limit.

The safest exposure to Hydrogen sulfide is no exposure at all.

Effects of exposure

Hydrogen sulfide at low levels has a distinctive rotten-egg odour and workers mistakenly assume that the absence of smell means that they are not exposed to it. Smell is a poor warning sign of hydrogen sulfide.

At higher concentrations a sweet smell may be noted, but at even greater concentrations, hydrogen sulfide can “paralyze” the sense of smell and the ability to smell is lost. Some workers are congenitally (by birth) unable to smell hydrogen sulfide. That is why the air should always be monitored by instruments designed to detect hydrogen sulfide.

Parts per million – Effects
0.13 – This is the odour threshold. Odour is unpleasant. Sore eyes.
4.6 – Strong intense odour, but tolerable. Prolonged exposure may deaden the sense of smell.
10-20 – Causes painful eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbance, loss of appetite, dizziness. Prolonged exposure may cause bronchitis and pneumonia.
30-100 – Sickeningly sweet smell noted.
50 – May cause muscle fatigue, inflammation and dryness of nose, throat and tubes leading to the lungs. Exposure for one hour or more at levels above 50 ppm can cause severe eye tissue damage. Long-term exposure can cause lung disease.
100-150 – Loss of smell, stinging of eyes and throat. Fatal after 8 to 48 hours of continuous exposure.
200-250 – Nervous system depression (headache, dizziness and nausea are symptoms). Prolonged exposure may cause fluid accumulation in the lungs. Fatal in 4 to 8 hours of continuous exposure.
250-600 – Pulmonary edema (lungs fill with fluid, foaming in mouth, chemical damage to lungs).
300 – May cause muscle cramps, low blood pressure and unconsciousness after 20 minutes.
300 to 500 – ppm may be fatal in 1 to 4 hours of continuous exposure.
500 – Paralyzes the respiratory system and overcomes victim almost instantaneously. Death after exposure of 30 to 60 minutes.
700 – Paralysis of the nervous system.
1000 – Immediately fatal.

End H2S Reality Check]

Toluene, a solvent linked to respiratory problems.

Benzene, a carcinogen.

Xylene, which causes liver, kidney, heart and nervous system damage.

Methanol, a solvent linked to headaches and dizziness.

EPA says natural gas processing uses over 21 chemicals already listed in the toxics inventory.

Environmental and public health groups regularly use the TRI to track Americans’ exposure to certain pollutants.

EPA will accept comments on the proposal until March 7. [Emphasis added]

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