Kinder-Morgan, Equilon (Shell) and Chevron Title V Permits up for renewal

7 companies
8 terminals
586 storage tanks
300 million gallon capacity
1,394 tons of volatile organic compounds emitted annually

–This is a description from Paul Koberstein, of CASCADIA TIMES, of the Northwest Portland Petroleum Tank Farm situated between Hwy 30 and the Willamette River, as analyzed from current  Title V air pollution operating permits.  On the ten year anniversary of publishing BAD AIR DAYS, Cascadia Times has been looking back into the air quality issues of Northwest Portland. After CT’s publication of the story of faulty control technologies at the fuel transfer stations along the Willamette, David Paul a leading attorney with a soft spot for the environment, successfully represented NW neighbors fighting Chevron for failing to properly capture hundreds of tons of VOC’s in their fuel transfer process at the NW terminal.

Currently three companies’ Title V air permits are up for renewal: Equilon (Shell), Chevron and Kinder-Morgan.  If you click on their names, you can go to the Department of Environmental Quality’s website announcements.  According to Koberstein,  “Kinder Morgan’s gasoline storage tanks contain 30 percent of the 300 million gallons of gasoline stored here in Portland, and they leak like crazy.” He estimates 236 tons per year.  California has required that companies ensure storage facilities have a leakage rate of no more than 100 parts per million (ppm); Oregon allows for 10,000 ppm. That, and the fact that our gasoline (due to a combination of refinery standards and where it is sourced from) has some of the highest Benzene content in the US (nearly 3x higher), makes for a really bad stew.

If you live in the Northwest neighborhood, you may recall in spring 2009, experiencing a strong presence of “natural gas” or “unburned fuel” odors that persisted for almost two weeks.  NW Natural Gas was called over 100 times, by anxious residents concerned about an active leak in their home. A medical clinic on NW 23rd and Lovejoy called an inspector out to determine the cause of the odor. Lincoln High School was thoroughly inspected by a hazmat team, and Ainsworth ES evacuated the students before it was determined the gas odor was not originating on site. Many residents complained of dizziness and headaches. Though we were never provided a definitive explanation, many neighbors suspect the tank farms as the potential source of those odors.

For this reason, residents have requested a public hearing before these permits are renewed.  It is essential for citizens to make a strong showing at the public hearing for these two permits, to express concerns about the safety of these nearly 100 year old fuel storage units that have the potential to leak hundreds of volatile and deadly HAPS into our airshed including Benzene, a known carcinogen.  The request for a hearing has been accepted by DEQ and I will forward information as soon as I have it. In the meantime, DEQ advises that the written public comments are due by the following dates (click following links for each companies’ public records):

Equilon (Shell) 5pm, January 25th  
DEQ Request for Comment 
Draft Permit  
Draft Review Report
Kinder-Morgan  5pm, January 26th  
DEQ Request for Commen
Draft Permit  
Draft Review Report
Chevron  5pm, January 26th  DEQ 
Request for Comment 
Draft Permit  
Draft Review Report

All comments may be submitted to:
Catherine Blaine NWR AQ Permit Coordinator

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