21 Dec 1989

A US perspective on hydrocarbon controls at service stations

Report no. 11/89: This paper was presented by Lee M. Thomas, Chairman and CEO of Law Environmental and former Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the international workshop on refuelling emissions, held in Berlin on 2nd November 1989.

The US government has had 20 years experience with legislation for control of VOC emissions from the gasoline distribution system and gasoline fuelled vehicles. The decision made by some US states in the early 1970s to require Stage I gasoline vapour controls at marketing terminals and service stations, and on-board vehicle evaporative emission controls using small carbon canisters, have proved highly effective. But extending controls at a later date to address vehicle running losses and refuelling emissions has the potential for duplication of effort or application of less effective controls. Only in recent years has the EPA discovered the significance of managing car evaporative emissions, including running losses, and refuelling losses together.

The on-board strategy, using enlarged carbon canisters, is the most efficient and cost-effective pollution control option and is safe.The European Community is at a crossroads where evaluating the US experience is helpful in finalizing the approach so that advantage can be taken of the on-board system for the cause of environmental protection.