2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

Due to alleged flare issues at six of its facilities, a petrochemical company has agreed to pay a $3.4 million civil penalty and to spend an estimated $50 million in upgrades and performance testing, according to a news release issued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Failure to Combust VOCs
According to DOJ, the company regularly “oversteamed” its flares and failed to comply with other key operating restraints designed to ensure volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are effectively combusted.

Flares use combustion to change VOCs into carbon dioxide and water, which are less harmful emissions.

Required Reduction, Instrumentation, and Monitoring
As part of the settlement, the company must install flare gas recovery systems, which will reduce the VOCs going to flares and allow for reuse of the VOCs in manufacturing or as fuel. For flaring that does occur, the company must upgrade its instrumentation and monitoring, to ensure the VOCs are effectively combusted in accordance with the company’s permits and agency rules. DOJ estimates the company will spend $50 million in these efforts.

Flare compliance is a priority under EPA’s National Air Toxics Initiative.

The settlement is subject to a thirty-day comment period. To see DOJ’s news release, with a link to get additional information and to see the proposed Consent Decree https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/equistar-chemicals-lp-lyondellbasell-acetyls-llc-and-lyondell-chemical-company-clean