SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board today announced a fine of $254,100 against THUMS Long Beach Company, an offshore oil and gas production operation, for sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions. With a global warming potential of nearly 24,000 times that of carbon dioxide, SF6 is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas.
“It is imperative that industries conduct operations so that emissions remain within allowable limits,” said Jim Ryden, Chief of the Air Resources Board’s Enforcement Division. “These excess emissions will remain in the atmosphere for 3,200 years.”
SF6 is used in some electric power systems as an insulator and arc quencher for gas insulated switchgear (GIS). ARB’s SF6-GIS regulation establishes emission rate limits for SF6 and requires owners of SF6-GIS equipment to report their emissions each year.
THUMS violated the regulation by submitting an inaccurate report and by exceeding the 2011 SF6 emission rate limit. The company has since eliminated its SF6-GIS equipment, and has no further compliance obligations under the regulation. The company was cooperative during the investigation and settlement process.
Excess greenhouse gas emissions disrupt regional climates. There are many effects, which may include increased flooding, droughts and forest fires, altered crop and fish yields, and human health-related problems. To mitigate these changes the California Legislature passed AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires overall reduction of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.
CARB is the lead agency in California for cleaning up the air and fighting climate change to attain and maintain health-based air quality standards. Its mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through the effective reduction of air and climate pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy.