AIR POLLUTION: Welling Compressor Station in Washington County, PA

Today’s Pennsylvania Bulletin includes an “Intent to Issue an Operating Permit under the Air Pollution Control Act” for the Welling Compressor Station at 165 Carlisle Road, Claysville, PA 15323.

This facility has a potential to emit 37.9 tons/ 12-consecutive month period (12-cmp) of NOx, 53.9 tons/12-cmp of CO, 0.3 ton/12-cmp of SOx, 48.3 tons/12-cmp of VOCs, 9.0 tons/12-cmp of PM10, and 11.0 tons/12-cmp of HAPs. The facility also has the potential to emit 2.9 tons/ 12-cmp of formaldehyde (included in VOCs, previously listed), 0.9 ton/12-cmp of benzene, 0.02 ton/12-cmp of ethylbenzene, 1.2 tons/12-cmp of toluene, 2.4 tons of xylenes, 1.3 tons of n-hexane, and 13,693 tons/12-cmp of methane.

The Welling is one of the largest compressor stations in our county, one of over 40 compressor stations and gas processing plants that have ‘sprung-up like weeds’ over the past 15 years. As more Marcellus Shale wells were drilled and hydraulically fractured, more compressor stations had to be built to move the gas from the gathering pipelines, that connect to every well site, to cryogenic gas plants and shale gas processing facilities.

CLEAN BURNING?
When the shale gas industry pitches their product as being “clean burning natural gas” they tend to leave out all the polluted air, water and land that’s required for gas to reach that point. And even though burning it may be cleaner than coal (without considering methane emissions), its combustion still creates air pollution. The entire cycle of gas production also creates more of those ‘Code Orange’ ozone alerts, that have frequented western Pennsylvania’s entrance into summer this year.

But let’s get back to the air pollution created by each of these compressor stations, which typically burn natural gas to power their compressor engines. The Welling Compressor Station reached a point in its development years that it was required to add electric-powered compressors, in order to stay within air pollution permitting requirements.

GAS TO ELECTRICITY FROM GAS
Of course with about 40% of our local electricity now being generated with natural gas, that just feeds back into the fossil fuel pollution cycle. And it was also rather alarming to see all the trees that had to be chopped down along the roads, many in people’s front yards, to extend the electric lines required by the Welling’s new electric compressors.

Trees were cut so new power lines could be installed along South Hewitt Avenue for electric compressors at the Welling Compressor Station.

SHOULD THIS FACILITY BE RE-PERMITTED?
Today’s Pennsylvania Bulletin entry gives us a ‘good look’ at the huge amount of air pollution permitted to be emitted by this one facility in Washington County, PA. The 30-day comment period is open, but the PA Department of Environmental Protection typically wants technical reasons to deny a permit, not just emotional ones, however logical they may actually be. You can also request a public hearing.

CLIMATE CHANGE
When thinking about methane emissions and their adverse effect on climate change, it’s alarming to note that this one facility has the potential to emit 27,386,000 pounds (13,693 tons) of methane in one year!

27 MILLION POUNDS OF METHANE IN 12 MONTHS!!!

On top of the methane emissions, this one facility also has the potential to emit huge quantities of these air toxins, with some being carcinogenic:
1,800 pounds (0.9 ton) of Benzene (more)
2,400 pounds (1.2 tons) of Toluene (more)
4,800 pounds (2.4 tons) of Xylenes (more)
22,000 pounds (11.0 tons) of HAPs (more)
96,600 pounds (48.3 tons) of VOCs including 5,800 pounds (2.9 tons) of Formaldehyde (more)
75,800 pounds (37.9 tons) of NOx (more)

18,000 pounds (9.0 tons) of PM10 (more)
600 pounds (0.3 ton) of SOx (more)
107,800 pounds (53.9 tons) of CO (more)
2,600 pounds (1.3 tons) of n-hexane (more)

40 pounds (0.02 ton) of Ethylbenzene (more)
INVISIBLE POLLUTANTS THE EYE DOESN’T SEE
Five EarthWorks FLIR videos recorded over the years of the Welling Compressor Station in Buffalo Township, Washington County, PA:

“EARTHWORKS: Protecting Climate from Oil & Gas Methane Pollution
Earthworks uses optical gas imaging technology to expose oil & gas pollution otherwise invisible to the naked eye in order to hold companies accountable for their emissions. We advocate to strengthen state and federal safeguards that prioritize community rights and public health while reducing methane gas that is accelerating the climate crisis.”

Source
Archives: Analysis from 2015
PENNSYLVANIA BULLETIN, VOL. 52, NO. 27, JULY 2, 2022

Intent to Issue Operating Permits under the Air Pollution Control Act (35 P.S. §§ 4001—4015) and 25 Pa. Code Chapter 127, Subchapter F. Southwest Region: Air Quality Program, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4745. Contact: Thomas Joseph, P.E., Facilities Permitting Chief, (412) 442-4336.

63-00958: MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources, LLC /
Welling Compressor Station, 165 Carlisle Rd., Claysville, PA 15323.

In accordance with 25 Pa. Code §§ 127.424, 127.425 and 127.521, the Department is providing notice of intent to issue an initial synthetic minor State Only Operating Permit for a compressor station, located in Buffalo Township, Washington County.

MarkWest operates two 1,380 hp compressor engines controlled by oxidation catalyst, six 1,980 hp compressor engines controlled by non-selective catalytic reduction, eight tanks controlled by vapor recovery units, four methanol tanks, two glycol dehydration units with reboilers controlled by enclosed flares, four electric reciprocating compressors, miscellaneous components, six pig receivers, and one pig launcher.

This facility has a potential to emit 37.9 tons/ 12-consecutive month period (12-cmp) of NOx, 53.9 tons/12-cmp of CO, 0.3 ton/12-cmp of SOx, 48.3 tons/12-cmp of VOCs, 9.0 tons/12-cmp of PM10, and 11.0 tons/12-cmp of HAPs. The facility also has the potential to emit 2.9 tons/ 12-cmp of formaldehyde (included in VOCs, previously listed), 0.9 ton/12-cmp of benzene, 0.02 ton/12-cmp of ethylbenzene, 1.2 tons/12-cmp of toluene, 2.4 tons of xylenes, 1.3 tons of n-hexane, and 13,693 tons/12-cmp of methane.

The facility is required to conduct regular surveys of the site while operating to ensure compliance with visible, fugitive, and malodor emission requirements and maintain records of those surveys. The proposed operating permit limits the glycol circulation rate to 15 gpm and the stripping gas rate to 40 scfm on the first dehydration unit, and limits the glycol circulation rate to 12 gpm and the stripping gas rate to 70 scfm on the second dehydration unit.

The air quality permit includes emission limitations, operating requirements, monitoring requirements, work practice standards, testing, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements for the site.

The application, DEP’s Review Memorandum, and the proposed permit are available for public review during normal business hours at DEP’s Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

A file review can be scheduled through the DEP’s website at https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/PublicRecords/Pages/ Informal-File-Review.aspx or by contacting Tom Joseph, Facilities Permitting Chief, directly. Those who wish to provide the Department with additional written information that they believe should be considered prior to the issuance of the State-Only Operating Permit may submit the information to Tom Joseph, Facilities Permit Chief, Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Each written comment must contain the name, address and telephone number of the person submitting the comments, identification of the proposed Operating Permit (63-00958) and concise statements regarding the relevancy of the information or objections to issuance of the Operating Permit.

All comments must be received prior to the close of business 30 days after the date of this publication. A public hearing may be held in accordance with 25 Pa. Code § 127.429, if the Department, in its discretion, decides that such a hearing is warranted based on the information received.

If a public hearing is held, all persons who have properly filed a protest under 25 Pa. Code § 127.426 may appear and give testimony. The Department is not required to hold a conference or hearing. The applicant, the protestant, and other participants will be notified of the decision to hold a hearing (and the time, place and purpose of such hearing) by publication in the newspaper or by the Pennsylvania Bulletin, or by telephone, where the Department determines such notification by telephone is sufficient. Written comments or requests for a public hearing should be directed to Tom Joseph, Facilities Permit Chief, at the previously listed address.

# # #

MarkWest operates two 1,380 hp compressor engines controlled by oxidation catalyst, six 1,980 hp compressor engines controlled by non-selective catalytic reduction, eight tanks controlled by vapor recovery units, four methanol tanks, two glycol dehydration units with reboilers controlled by enclosed flares, four electric reciprocating compressors, miscellaneous components, six pig receivers, and one pig launcher.

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