Petrol stations to recycle fumes

Busy petrol stations will be obliged to fit technology to suck up petrol vapour bid to recycle wasted fumes and cut pollution.

Fumes from un-burned petrol exacerbate the problem of summer smog, releasing particulate matter which causes lung and respiratory problems and ground-level ozone which damages vegetation and buildings as well as human health.

Government has decided to step in to regulate industry by legislating for tighter controls at large filling stations which sell over 3.5 million litres of petrol a year.

The proposals were first mooted last November (see related story) when consultation on the idea was launched.

Now, under the news Petrol Vapour Recovery stage II controls (PVRII) stations have until January 1, 2010 to fit equipment to capture and recycle the fumes.

This will provide opportunities for those marketing environmental technologies and will generally resemble extractors fitted in the canopy of the filling station which will then pump the recovered fumes back into the storage tanks.

The technology is expected to recover around 85% of the petrol fumes which would otherwise escape into the atmosphere – around 16,000 tonnes per year in total.

Smaller, quieter garages have been let off the hook as Government seeks to balance environmental concerns with the economic realities of running a rural filling station.

Ben Bradshaw, the Environment Minister responsible for air quality, said: “Summer smogs are a too familiar feature in some of our cities. They are tangible evidence of the implications for quality of life if we allow levels of pollutant emissions into the atmosphere to go unchecked.

“The legislation which comes into effect this month is part of a package of measures designed to reduce those levels and cut the risks to human health and the environment.

“The impact of the costs involved has been considered carefully. We want a common sense balance between the likely benefits for air quality and protecting the viability of businesses. That’s why we are confining the measure to larger service stations.

“Many smaller rural service stations have a vital role in providing other services to communities, and we have set the threshold for fitting the equipment to ensure they are protected.”

Sam Bond

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