EU proposes petrol vapour capture

Petrol stations across Europe could be forced to fit equipment to trap the harmful vapours released when refuelling cars.

The EU Commission has proposed laws to limit vapour emissions from petrol pumps in a bid to protect the environment and prevent people breathing in harmful substances.

Petrol vapour contains benzene, which can cause cancer and contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone.

“This proposal will improve the health of European citizens,” Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

“It will contribute to raise air quality standards by limiting the emission of two harmful pollutants, ground-level ozone and benzene.”

Under the proposals, petrol pumps will have to be fitted with so-called Stage II petrol vapour recovery (PVR) technology, which can recover 85% or more of the vapour.

New or substantially refurbished petrol stations which sell more than 500 cubic metres of petrol a year would have to fit the technology.

All service stations underneath residential accommodation, and any existing stations which sell more than 3,000 cubic metres of petrol a year, would also have to fit the technology.

Stage II PVR equipment is already used in petrol stations in about half of the EU’s Member States, but its use would be extended across the whole of the EU if the regulations are introduced.

According to EU figures, air pollution is estimated to cause the premature death of almost 370,000 people each year and reduces average life expectancy by nine months.

The proposals will now be put before the Council and the European Parliament.

Kate Martin

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