Reuters had a scoop.
Last fall, two of the news agency’s reporters were examining reports that Irving Oil Ltd. submits to New Brunswick’s department of environment, detailing problems with its pollution control equipment.
Irving Oil is the dominant energy company in the Maritimes and New England. In Saint John, the company operates the largest oil refinery in Canada. Adjacent to the refinery, Irving Oil owns a marine terminal where oil is loaded and unloaded from ships.
At the terminal, the Reuters reporters discovered that vapor recovery units (VRU) installed by Irving Oil in 2011 had been shut down 37 per cent of the time for more than two years prior to March of 2015 due to mechanical problems. In fact, for the first three months of last year, the VRUs were offline nearly 80 per cent of the time. These units capture vapors that escape while ships are loading oil – vapors that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including carcinogens like benzene. Air pollution is a hot topic of concern for Saint John’s 70,000 residents.