Good News, Murrysville: Emissions of Ozone-Forming Compounds from Westmoreland Compressor Station

Updated: Sep 9

We found a piece of good air quality news in this past Saturday’s Pennsylvania Bulletin: Emissions are expected to decrease at a Westmoreland County-based compressor station.


Here’s what happened: Eastern Gas Transmission & Storage, Inc. has filed an application for a Plan Approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to install an oxidation catalyst to reduce emissions from its J.B. Tonkin Compressor Station in Murrysville.


“The potential reductions in facility-wide emissions that the oxidation catalyst will bring about are significant,” GASP’s senior attorney John Baillie explained. “The facility’s potential to emit oxides of nitrogen that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone – alone will drop by at least 126 tons per year and its potential to emit the hazardous air pollutant formaldehyde will drop by at least two tons per year.” 


J.B. Tonkin Compressor Station’s emissions of volatile organic compounds (AKA VOCs, which also contribute to ozone formation) will also drop, although, from the information published in the Bulletin, it is not clear by how much.  


“At any rate, after the installation of the oxidation catalyst, the facility will become a minor source of both NOx and VOCs, although it will remain a major source of hazardous air pollutants,” Baillie added.


Quick FYI on ozone: Ground-level ozone is created by chemical reactions that occur between nitrogen oxides (known as NOx) and volatile organic compounds (known as VOCs). This happens when sunlight chemically reacts with pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, chemical plants, refineries, and even some species of trees.


And it can be harmful to your health: Inhaling ozone can cause everything from throat irritation and coughing to chest pain and airway inflammation that makes it difficult to breathe. Ozone can even reduce lung function and harm lung tissue, and exposure can exacerbate conditions like asthma and other breathing issues. Some scientists have compared ozone-caused lung damage to sunburn.


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