Resolution with the EPA

In December of 2019, a federal judge approved our settlement agreement with the EPA. The EPA believed Global violated the potential to emit limit in that permit. The DEP believed we have been in compliance.

Under the proposed agreement reached with the EPA:

  • We will heat only four of our bulk storage tanks containing No. 6 oil or asphalt, and no more than two of them will hold No. 6 oil at any one time.
  • Heat will not be applied to the heated-product tanks for at least 120 days each year.
  • Throughput limits will be set at 50 million gallons per year of No. 6 oil, and 75 million gallons per year of asphalt.
  • We will install mist eliminators on the heated-product tanks.
  • At the EPA’s suggestion, we will provide $150,000 to replace or retrofit wood-burning appliances in the area, helping reduce emissions from another source of outdoor VOCs
  • Separate from the agreement, we are participating in area-wide air monitoring in coordination with the DEP and City of South Portland. We are also working on ways to address odor from our facility.
  • The EPA has estimated that the settlement agreement will cost Global about $440,000.

What were the alleged violations?

The EPA’s Notice of Violation (NOV), issued in June 2014, alleged that the terminal’s potential to emit (PTE) exceeded certain regulatory thresholds which establish what type of permit a facility must apply for.

Potential to emit is calculated for permitting purposes by considering the emissions generated by a facility operating at full capacity, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Because terminals, including our South Portland terminal don’t actually operate in a continuous manner, actual emissions are well below potential emissions.

Think of your car or truck. Its potential to emit is the amount of exhaust produced if you drove your car 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No one does that, and so the actual emissions of your vehicle depend on how much you actually drive.

Did Global exceed its emissions limit?

No. Although EPA alleged that the PTE for the terminal exceeded 50 tons per year, the terminal never reported emissions exceeding those allowed by its license. Each year, we are required to report actual emissions to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Our permit allows for up to 21.9 tons per year of what’s known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and at no time did the reported emissions exceed that.

Using the revised AP-42 methodology proposed by the EPA that is the new national standard for calculating emissions, our 2018 VOC emissions totaled 4.81 tons. That is only 1% of the VOC emissions from facilities the DEP monitors in Cumberland County and less than 3% of the VOC emissions in South Portland.

What are VOCs?

VOCs are organic chemicals that can evaporate in the air. They are found both indoors and outdoors and are essential ingredients in many every-day products. Sources of indoor VOCs include cleaning supplies, personal care products, paint and paint thinners, cooking and wood-burning stoves. Outdoor sources include diesel and gasoline emissions from stationary and mobile (cars, trucks, trains, etc.) sources, wood burning, and industrial emissions.

What is AP-42?

AP-42 is a document published by EPA that includes methodologies for calculating emissions from a wide variety of industrial sources, including petroleum facilities and associated storage tanks. In 2018, the EPA proposed revisions to AP-42 specifically to address the calculation methodologies for emissions from heated storage tanks.

If Global didn’t believe it violated its permits, and the DEP agreed with Global, why settle?

As a company we believe in working with environmental regulators and the cities and states where we operate. We don’t always agree, but we can come to an understanding and ensure that we continue to do things the right way.