This Thermal Oxidizer is just another shortcut taken by industry. This is NOT a vapor recovery device.
Aruba Petroleum installed this Thermal Oxidizer in response to the constant emission problems in Allison, Texas where several residents have suffered health impacts from Aruba’s inability to control their toxic emissions.
Aruba is not the only operator to take this shortcut. These things are cropping up all around the Barnett Shale. This one belongs to XTO.
On May 18, 2010, Christine Ruggiero wrote her first letter attempting to learn more about this device and how it might impact her family’s health. Within two hours after the device was up and running, the Parr family and their pets were experiencing serious health impacts.
Finally after many months and several additional letters we have enough information to forward to a scientist for a scientific opinion.
First the flare or thermal oxidizer is permitted by rule.
Thus there is no requirement for testing the emissions or reporting the emissions. The flare unit is allowed to release 3.3492 tons per year of volatile organic compounds. Volatile Organic chemicals are extremely toxic.
There is no set back requirement for residential areas.
Based on the analysis of the gases going into the flare, the gas contains 43 pounds per year of benzene, 39 pounds per year of toluene, and 221 pounds per year of xylene. These materials plus other volatile organics go towards making up the 3.3492 tons per year of volatile organic compounds released by the unit.
This is when the flare or thermal oxidizer is operating properly. Based on the information and photos you have accumulated, the unit does not seem to be operating properly.
We think the device is now working properly but it’s still not acceptable. Besides emitting huge quantities of climate change accelerating CO2, this is not something that should be in a residential area near families.