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Rotarians Hear from Hovensa at Luncheon


Nov. 17, 2004 – On November 4, 2004, Richard Smullen, Vice President, Environmental, Health and Safety, of HOVENSA L.L.C. (HOVENSA), was the guest speaker at the luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club St. Croix Mid-Isle. Smullen told the Rotarians that HOVENSA’s operations are subject to the environmental laws and regulations administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 2, and the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), including the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act. He outlined the programs maintained by HOVENSA to comply with these laws, some of which programs are considered model programs in the refining industry and now being implemented by other refineries throughout the United States.
Relative to solid waste, Smullen informed the audience that the refinery generates primarily three types of waste during the refining of crude oil: oily sludge, tank solids, and spent catalyst. He stated that the company utilizes state of the art technology to reduce the volume of sludge and tank solids by removing all the water from the waste and extracting 99.9% of the oil, which is reprocessed into petroleum products.
Smullen informed the Rotarians that HOVENSA maintains several highly effective programs designed to prevent crude oil and petroleum products leaking from storage tanks and underground pipelines into the water table and to recover any such material found on the water table. Prevention programs include periodic static testing of all storage tanks, pressure testing of underground lines, and refinery-wide monitoring of the water table every two months from several hundred groundwater wells to identify and delineate the decline of the volume of any hydrocarbon on the water table. The hydrocarbon recovery program was started in the early 1980’s before HOVENSA became the owner of the refinery and has been cited by EPA as a model example of a recovery system.
The HOVENSA vice president stated that HOVENSA meets EPA’s "best achievable technological standards" for the treatment of all wastewater discharged from the refinery. He said that all wastewater generated in the refinery and all storm water from areas of the refinery in which the oil refining process takes place is treated before reuse in the refinery or discharge into the sea. During the physical, chemical and biological treatment of this water, oil, chemicals and solids are removed from the water. Smullen stated that in excess of 1500 samples of water are collected annually from the waste water discharge point and analyzed for compliance with 12 different parameters established by the DPNR.
Smullen outlined several programs maintained by HOVENSA to prevent air emissions from the refinery, including vapor-tight seals on the roofs of storage tanks, a totally enclosed wastewater system, a totally enclosed petroleum coke conveyor system, a hydrocarbon vapor recovery system at the fuel-trucks loading facility, and a wet gas scrubber. He noted the wet gas scrubber is a pollution control device which enables the company to eliminate the discharge of particulate emissions into the atmosphere from the fluid catalytic conversion (FCC) unit by running a stream of water through the hot flue gas created during the regeneration of the catalyst used in that unit. Smullen said that the scrubber, which was installed when the FCC unit was built in 1993, is a significant improvement in air emission controls over that in existence at other FCC units on the mainland. EPA is only now requiring other refineries to use this advanced technology.
Smullen said the company also prevents air emissions by routinely checking over 50,000 valves and pipe connections for hydrocarbon leaks with sensitive electronic instruments able to detect leaks so small that they are not visible to the naked eye, and the company promptly repairs any leaks that are found. HOVENSA also routinely inspects the condition of all tank seals and wastewater systems controls.
Smullen stated that HOVENSA operates on a round-the-clock basis five (5) SO2 (sulfur dioxide) monitoring stations in the community. The monitoring stations are located north, northwest and west of the refinery and have wireless data streams to refinery. Smullen displayed a photograph of the exterior and interior of one of the stations.
After his presentation, Smullen answered questions from the audience. Rotarians were pleased to learn that, in compliance with EPA regulations, HOVENSA will begin construction next year of a project to reduce the amount of sulfur in gasoline and diesel fuel produced for local sale and export to the mainland. The HOVENSA vice president emphasized the company’s commitment to keeping the environment clean for current and future generations. He pointed out that HOVENSA has incorporated this commitment in its statement of Mission, Vision and Values, which states that one of HOVENSA’s visions is "To be the safest, cleanest and most environmentally responsible refinery in the world."
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