Air Quality Management
Joffre Site manufacturing processes are relatively clean, however, along the way we do create emissions. Equipment like furnaces, piping connections, compressors, storage tanks and flare stacks are examples of emission sources. Emissions from site sources include oxides of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds.
Air quality is important to our employees, our neighbors and the Central Alberta community. Air quality management is a priority for us and we have many programs in place to reduce emissions, monitor impacts and continuously review our performance.
Some Program Details
Ambient Air Monitoring — ensuring emissions are below compliance limits and achieving continuous improvement in our performance
NOVA Chemicals supports the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) in their efforts to manage air quality issues in Alberta. The company recently received letters of commendation from CASA and the Premier of Alberta for the expertise, support and cooperation our company and employees have provide this important organization.
Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System
Our comprehensive ambient air monitoring system includes four stations continuously monitoring the air quality around the site with respect to oxides of nitrogen, total hydrocarbons, ozone, ethylene, noise, wind speed and direction. The site also has a mobile monitoring unit for back-up and mobile response. Monitoring stations are located outside the site's fence line, in locations where maximum ground level concentrations are predicted to occur.
Air quality information is reported to regulatory bodies. Alberta Environment has ambient air quality guidelines for oxides of nitrogen, ethylene and ozone.
Source Emission Testing Program
Combustion, or fired equipment used in our manufacturing processes are emission sources to the air. In the initial facility design, we use the best available technology and then ensure it operates as efficiently as possible. Each year we hire professionals to test emission levels from all cracking furnaces, gas turbines, steam superheaters, package steam boilers and other combustion equipment. Results from this testing are tracked internally and submitted to Alberta Environment.
Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) Program
Joffre Site facilities are a maze of pipe and equipment with more than 100,000 valves, flanges and seals in service — some of which operate under extreme pressure or temperature. We minimize potential emissions right from the start by selecting 'leak-tight' equipment. Welding of piping joints is maximized to eliminate potential leak points and pumps/compressors have dual mechanical seals with no leakage to atmosphere. Where no practical non-leaking technology exists, we use designs (like special seal packing on process control valves) to minimize potential leakage.
Under the LDAR Program, pipes and equipment are routinely monitored for leaks by personnel with hand-held monitors. Leak repairs are done as soon as possible. The LDAR Program includes performance tracking and reporting to regulatory bodies. It was designed to ensure compliance with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Environmental Code of Practice for the Measurement and Control of Fugitive VOC Emissions from Equipment Leaks.
Greenhouse Gas Management
NOVA Chemicals supports the voluntary reduction target embraced by major industrial chemical manufacturers in both Canada and the United States. Our strategy includes both improving energy use and efficiency, and employing leading-edge technologies.
Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS) Management Program
Buildings located on the Joffre Site have refrigeration, heating and ventilation control systems. Under our ODS Program we select systems and products using R22, a substance with lower ozone depleting potential than some other halocarbons. This is important because ozone depleting substances stay in the atmosphere for a long time and can breakdown stratospheric ozone. Our program includes inventorying, performance tracking and reporting of releases to regulatory bodies. The handling and use of ozone depleting substances is regulated under both provincial and federal regulations.
We also work to minimize or eliminate the release of other halocarbon substances to the air. Site personnel use various foams, aerosols and solvent products in routine maintenance activities. All products are thoroughly evaluated for safety, health and environmental effects before they can be used on the site.
Joffre Site flare systems
have either air or steam assist equipment to improve combustion and minimize smoke. At times, during upset process conditions, smoke may be visible from a flare stack when insufficient air is available to ensure complete combustion. Operating practices are in place to minimize these infrequent events.
We report incidents where smoke from flaring exceeds regulation. Visible emissions are included under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (AEPEA) and its regulations.
Some Air Quality Successes
Communicating performance is an important part of air quality management. We report air emissions to Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory and to the Canadian Chemical Producer's Association National Emission Reduction Masterplan every year. As part of our support of the Voluntary Climate Change Challenge and Registry, we also submit annual reports outlining plans and achievements to improve energy efficiency (our impact on greenhouse gases). In 2001, NOVA Chemicals received a leadership award for our submission for "extraordinary commitment, action, best practices and leadership toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions." In 2004, the company was again recognized as a Gold Champion Level Reporter for its 2004 VCR submission.
The Joffre Site's Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) Program has had significant results — with a leak rate declining from 9% in 1991 to less than 1% today.
Alberta Environment put into effect a new ambient air objective for ethylene in January, 2004. The Alberta Ethylene Crop Research Project
completed by the Alberta Research Council with the support of NOVA Chemicals, Alberta Environment and other stakeholders was the key to this new objective by providing scientific evidence of how ambient air concentrations of ethylene can impact vegetation. Four years of monitoring ethylene in our ambient air-monitoring program indicate that 100% of our ethylene emissions are below the Alberta Environment limit of 1,044 ppb. 94% of those readings recorded were in fact below 10 ppb.