The Suncor shutdown hasn’t led to big spikes in #Colorado fuel prices or air pollution — yet — Colorado Public Radio #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Suncor Refinery with Sand Creek in the foreground July 9, 2022. Photo credit: Allen Best/Big Pivots

Click the link to read the article on the Colorado Public Radio website (Sam Brasch). Here’a an excerpt:

It’s been more than two weeks since Suncor Energy announced it was suspending operations at Colorado’s only oil refinery in Commerce City. The company took the plant offline after cold weather apparently triggered malfunctions and a pair of fires, one of which hospitalized two employees. The Canadian oil and gas company now says it won’t be fully operational until late March.

Initial news of the temporary shutdown was a relief for Olga Gonzalez, who leads Cultivando, a local community group. While many industry organizations raised concerns about the shuttered refinery’s potential effect on gasoline and jet fuel shortages, Gonzalez hoped the shutdown might give the largely Latino neighborhoods near the refinery a brief reprieve from long-standing air quality problems. Her excitement has faded. On a recent afternoon in January, steam rose from smokestacks at the sprawling facility. Flames danced atop others, evidence the company was burning or “flaring” gases from the refinery…

Detlev Helmig, an atmospheric chemist who owns Boulder A.I.R and operates the monitor, said levels of the carcinogen benzene appeared to trend higher over the last month, but that could be due to a common wintertime weather phenomenon called “inversion,” which traps emissions close to the ground. He also hasn’t noticed a rapid drop in air pollution levels since Suncor announced the shutdown…

Leah Schleifer, a spokesperson for the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division, said regulators reviewed data from community and state air monitors. While it hasn’t found any potential risk to the public, the agency will continue monitoring incoming data as it investigates potential air pollution violations. Schleifer said the company told regulators that emissions have stabilized below limits set in its state air quality permit. At the same time, she added that it’s “unlikely that there will be a total elimination of all emissions from Suncor over the next few months.” The state is deploying its own mobile air monitor — known as the CAMML — to Lorraine Granado Park near the refinery this week to watch for future health risks, Schleifer said.

Leave a Reply