Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Fails To Consider Climate Or Public Health Risks Of Multiple Toxic Air Emissions From Paulsboro Refinery

Murphy DEP Fails To Consider Climate Or Public Health Risks Of Multiple Toxic Air Emissions From Paulsboro Refinery

Paulsboro NJ is a “sacrifice zone”

refinery adjacent to Paulsboro High school just one part of massive metro-chemcial complex

refinery adjacent to Paulsboro High school just one part of massive petro-chemical complex

The Murphy DEP just issued an air pollution permit making a significant modification to the permit for the Paulsboro Refining Company LLC refinery.

That refinery has a troubled history of “plant upsets” that poison the nearby community, see:

The refinery was targeted by EPA enforcement and the company entered into a 2005 settlement agreement for significant violations of the federal Clean Air Act and EPA and NJ DEP regulations – a lawsuit joined by NJ DEP.

According to DEP, that refinery is a massive source of air pollution emissions, including greenhouse gases: 

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from this facility are 4,038,574 TPY CO2e and there is no GHG emission increase.

The DEP did not impose any limitations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Repeat: despite emissions of over 4 MILLION TONS of greenhouse gases, the Murphy DEP again did nothing.

Those air pollution emissions also include hazardous air pollutants that cause cancer:

The facility is classified as a major facility based on its potential to emit 1476 tons per year of volatile organic compounds, 1448 tons per year of nitrogen oxide, 762 tons per year of carbon monoxide, 3614 tons per year of sulfur dioxide, 553 tons per year of PM10, 553 tons per year of PM2.5 and 352 tons per year of particulates (TSP).

It is also classified as a major hazardous air pollutant (HAP) facility. A major HAP emitting facility is designated as major when the allowed emissions exceed 10 tons per year of any individual hazardous air pollutant or 25 tons per year of any combination of individual hazardous air pollutants that may be emitted simultaneously.

This permit allows individual hazardous air pollutant to be emitted at a rate not to exceed: 27.2 pounds per year of acrolein, 12,657.7 pounds per year of benzene, 17.8 pounds per year of cadmium compounds, 30,000 pounds per year of carbon disulfide, 2,822.4 pounds per year of formaldehyde, 38,500 pounds per year of hexane, 17,200 pounds per year of hydrogen chloride, 486,000 pounds per year of hydrogen cyanide, 6 pounds per year of lead, 800 pounds per year of phenol, 3,000 pounds per year of ethyl benzene, 3,000 pounds per year of naphthalene, 8 pounds per year of polycyclic organic matter, 17,200 pounds per year of toluene, and 7,600 pounds per year of xylene.

Despite those massive toxic air emissions, the Murphy DEP did not conduct a review of the health risks and impacts from the refinery, in light of not only that facility’s emissions, but the cumulative emissions or multiple toxic pollutants from other nearby sources:

A Facility-Wide Risk Assessment was conducted on 12/6/16 and health risk was determined to be acceptable to the Department consistent with NJDEP Technical Manual 1003. A revised Health Risk Assessment was not conducted with this permit modification, since no changes were made to Air Toxics (including HAPs) emissions or risk parameters since the last risk assessment.

The Murphy DEP merely rubber stamped the flawed Christie DEP review back in 2016.

That Christie DEP review did not consider cumulative impacts or cumulative risks to what are euphemistically referred to as “sensitive receptors”, like children in nearby schools.

No town in NJ is more threatened and adversely impacted by the cumulative toxic chemical emissions to air, water, and land from a massive petro-chemical industrial complex than Paulsboro, NJ.

No town suffers exposure of their kids, in schools literally on top of those petro-chemical facilities (see:

No town has seen more toxic disasters, including those that force evacuation (see:

And no town has been more neglected and abandoned by DEP regulators than Paulsboro (see:

Local police in Paulsboro detained, photographed, and questioned me for trying to take photos of the refinery behind the High School (see above photo).  That incident led to investigators from the FBI, Homeland Security and Hunterdon County Prosecutors Office questioning me at my home, in the course of what they called a “terrorism” threat.

*I recall being astonished by this, because at the time I had a column at The Newark Star Ledger, NJ’s largest newspaper. I was engaging in three forms of classic constitutionally protected activity: free speech, political activism, and journalism.

I am almost certain that I was placed on a domestic terror watch list as a result of that episode.

I also travelled to and was in Paulsboro during the evacuation of the town during the toxic train derailment.

I’ve written about these disasters in Paulsboro many times.

So, I’ve got a lot of “skin in the game” when it comes to Paulsboro.

Which explains why I was appalled to read that DEP issued a permit without considering the cumulative public health risks of all the toxic pollutants issued by the surrounding petro-chemical complex.

And again I will bet that all this was done by stealth,  under the radar, and the community was totally unaware of the situation.

I smell Senate President Sweeney.

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