Published On: Mon, Jan 14th, 2013

WHO-standard sulfur emission repeatedly exceeded

WILLEMSTAD – Stichting Schoon Milieu (Clean Environment) On Curacao (Smoc) points out the recent data from measuring station at Kas Chikitu on luchtmetingen.org ‘with great concern’: “In the past week the World Health Organization (WHO)-standard for the emission of sulfur dioxide was exceeded approx. 45 times. We received complaints from citizens time after time that ‘the stench was unbearable’. Now that the wind has changed direction we mainly receive complaints from residents in Piscadera”, said Smoc-chairman Peter van Leeuwen, who blames the Isla-refinery for the emission. He explained that WHO uses a 10-minute standard, whereby a maximum 500 mcg/m3 emission of sulfur dioxide is allowed. Van Leeuwen referred to the peaks in the picture, which shows that the standard of 500 mcg/m3 was exceeded five times in one hour. He explained: “This means 30 x 10 minutes considering it regards averages per hour. With an average per hour exceeding 400 mcg/m3 (which was actually measures, (editorial office)), a 10-minute average of 500 will certainly have been measured. In all, the WHO-standard was exceeded approx. 45 times”, Van Leeuwen explained. He described the dense smoke of the past period as ‘nauseating’ and that the smell of burnt matches is characteristic for the emission of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and that of rotten eggs for the emission of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). “Also the 24-hour health standard from WHO of 20 mcg was exceeded”, said Van Leeuwen. He assumes that the increased emission of these gasses are possibly related to the starting up process of the cat cracker and an improper functioning of the desulfurize process of crude oil. “During the many legal proceedings we were repeatedly told the refinery was trying to improve the operation of the so-called ‘Sour Water Stripper’ (SWS) installation. This installation removes the sulfur from the oil. The ‘sour water’ is then pumped through a pipeline to the sulfur retrieving installation (SRU). SO2-gas occurs when there are problems with the SRU’s, in which case the refinery has to start the burn off process. Considering the frequency of these smells lately something is most likely going wrong during these processes”, said Van Leeuwen.

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