Bay Area Air Quality Management District strengthens refinery emissions rules

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has voted to strengthen the rule to reduce emissions from oil refineries. 

Refineries now have to install technology to cut particulate output by 70%. The rule is the toughest regulation of its kind in the country. 

The rule applies to four Bay Area refineries with Fluidized Catalytic Cracking Units, which emit PM2.5, the primary health threat from air pollution in the Bay Area, particularly in terms of premature mortality, the air district said in a news release. 

"The Air District is committed to reducing air pollution exposure in impacted areas and these amendments are a necessary and critical step toward controlling the most significant air pollution health hazard in the Bay Area," said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District." 

The air district calculates for the one million people most affected, particulate matter from Richmond's Chevron refinery increases mortality by 11.6 deaths per year on average. That average is 6.3 deaths per year for the PBF Martinez refinery. 

Environmental activists call it a victory for the Bay Area, specifically for communities surrounding refineries who are exposed to harmful particulate pollution.