The council is concerned that hazardous air pollution from the Valdez Marine Terminal (VMT) may be a threat to the health of Valdez residents. The purpose of this project is to measure, regulate, and ultimately reduce this pollution.
Specific hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) of concern include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, known collectively as BTEX. The primary human health hazard comes from benzene, a known carcinogen.
Although control equipment installed in 1998 eliminated hazardous emissions resulting from tanker loading operations at the terminal, emissions from the Ballast Water Treatment Facility (BWTF) remain unregulated. Emissions from this facility, the largest remaining source of HAPs at the terminal, exceed the threshold set by the Environmental Protection Agency at which it deems a facility a major source of hazardous air emissions.
See PWSRCAC report from 1999:
For tankers loading crude oil at the VMT, the oily ballast water is discharged to and treated at the terminal’s Ballast Water Treatment Facility. The processes at the BWTF have emitted large quantities of hazardous air pollutants over the years. In 2006, Alyeska embarked on a comprehensive effort to convert all of the open processes at the BWTF to closed processes that emit little if any air pollution. Once the processes have been so modified, Alyeska’s air quality permits will need modification to accommodate the changes made to the BWTF processes. Additionally, the council will seek to sample ambient air at locations in and near the BWTF for laboratory analysis and an assessment of the extent to which air pollution from the processes has, in fact, been reduced.
• Monitor Alyeska’s progress in amending its air quality permits making recommendations as appropriate
• Review process monitoring requirements to ensure that BWTF renovations remain fully functional and are properly maintained
• Determine the extent to which the BWTF renovation may have reduced emissions from the BWTF by air sampling
• Compare any measured emissions with those predicted in Alyeska’s design process
• Review compliance and enforcement provisions of the current permit
• Facilitate public and agency review during permit renewal process
• Coordination with renewal / amendments to VMT NPDES permit
February 2008 update: At the council’s January 2008 board meeting, the board of directors decided to withdraw the council’s petition for reconsideration. The board felt that since Alyeska is adequately addressing reduction of emissions from the Ballast Water Treatment Facility, that the petition was no longer necessary.
Air Pollution from Tanker Loading Operations Reduced
Before the installation of the tanker vapor control system in 1998, tankers loading crude oil at the VMT emitted tens of thousands of tons annually of oily vapors that contained benzene. The control system eliminated an estimated three-quarters of all volatile organic compounds (VOCs—liquids that form a vapor) from the terminal. The council was a strong advocate of such a system.
Until the vapor control system was installed, the VMT was the largest single emitter of VOCs in the United States.