Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has issued Esso’s Longford plant with a temporary commissioning approval to exceed one of its EPA licence limits while it undertakes repairs to damaged machinery involved in ensuring air quality from the plant.
On 16 June EPA was notified by Esso of a breach of its license emissions from a malfunctioning thermal oxidiser (TO).
Esso then applied for a Section 30A (of the Environment Protection Act 1970 (the Act)) approval to override its licence limit for the TO. The TO is licensed to allow emissions of 4 grams per minute of benzene and 255 grams per minute of carbon monoxide.
When those limits were exceeded, Esso was obligated under its licence arrangements to inform EPA.
EPA’s assessment of the licence breach and modelling has confirmed there is low risk to human health from this incident. While it has caused a breach in the specific limit and design criteria for this piece of equipment, the levels are still within the overall site licence limits and below the levels set in the State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP).
EPA’s temporary approval is an overriding provision of the Act to enable commissioning repairs and expires on 28 October 2017. As part of the approval, Esso will be required to conduct a monitoring and reporting program to ensure levels remain inside safety limits.
- Ambient air monitoring of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene) at premises boundaries; and
- Stack testing of thermal oxidiser post restart – as many as required until it performs as per design (99.5% destruction efficiency).
- Performance verification of thermal oxidiser; and
- Thermal oxidiser feed composition.
EPA Manager Gippsland Region Stephen Lansdell, said EPA had been working with Esso to ensure the ongoing safety of the local community and the workforce since becoming aware of the issue.
“We will continue to monitor the situation while the section 30A approval is in place and we remain confident that there is low risk to human health,” Mr Lansdell said.
Esso has committed to keeping the local community updated, and should anyone have further queries or concerns they are encouraged to contact Esso directly on 5149 6206.
Community are encouraged to report any pollution to EPA on the pollution hotline 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).
Section 30A approvals are an over-riding provision in the Act that permit commercial or industrial premises to discharge, emit or deposit waste to the environment; or store, treat, handle or dispose of waste on or from any premises for the purpose of:
- meeting a temporary emergency; or
- providing for the temporary relief of a public nuisance or community hardship; or
- enabling the commissioning, repair, decommissioning or dismantling of any item of industrial plant or fuel