White smoke, billowing from the Vertex Energy plant is hard to miss in Marrero on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish. But, it's not what you see, instead it's what you smell that bothers neighbors like Ralph Rodgers who lives near the used oil refinery at River Road and Barataria.
A Marrero plant that recycles motor oil is seeking to increase its daily capacity by about one third, and the state Department of Environmental Quality will host a meeting this month to gather public comment on the plan.
On Sept. 29, the EPA released new air standards with tighter restrictions on oil refineries emissions and particularly on benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer. The new rule mandated, for the first time, “fenceline” monitoring that requires refineries to install air monitors on the site to measure benzene emissions and act when the levels exceed allowable levels.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a number of rule changes this week that could have a big impact on industry and quality of life in Louisiana. The new rules cut ozone emissions from 75 parts per billion to 70, and complying might pose a challenge for the state. New Orleans and Baton Rouge are now out of attainment.
For the first time, federal environmental regulators will require refineries to install air monitors around their facilities to detect low levels of the cancer-causing chemical benzene, a move officials said will result in cleaner air and will provide people living nearby with better information about pollution coming into their neighborhoods.
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