Air monitoring goes mobile at MPC's Galveston Bay Refinery
A new emergency response vehicle, outfitted with portable air monitoring equipment and a high-tech camera system, is now in use in Texas City, Texas, and is designed to help industry operators and emergency management officials take the guesswork out of mapping air pollutants.
“We wanted to pull technology and professional expertise together so that we could not only know what’s going on in the plant, or just outside the plant, but also understand the effects on the community as well,” explains Joe Marra, Environmental, Safety and Security manager at Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s (MPC’s) Galveston Bay Refinery.
Nearly a dozen stationary air-monitoring stations exist around Texas City. However, since these monitors are fixed, there are gaps, says Aaron Robinson, Health, Environment and Safety professional at the refinery. “Our fixed monitors can give an indication of where a release is going off-site. However, when a release is between two of the fixed monitors, you don’t know what the reading is. We need an accurate number for the community, so that’s where the van comes in.”
In the event of a large-scale event, fixed air monitors would pick up on the increased concentrations of chemicals and the trajectory of the pollutants. The refinery would then send out the air-monitoring van to get a more detailed analysis of the heaviest concentration of emissions and collect data, Marra said. The system also allows emergency management officials to better pinpoint shelter-in-place areas.
“We always strive to be responsive to the neighboring community,” he adds. “This is another tool for us to use in emergency situations.”