Effluent Guidelines: Petroleum Refining
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
EPA promulgated the Petroleum Refining Effluent Guidelines and Standards (40 CFR Part 419) in 1974 and amended the regulations in 1975, 1977, 1982 and 1985. The regulations cover wastewater discharges at over 140 refineries across the country. The effluent guidelines and standards are incorporated into NPDES permits for direct dischargers, and permits or other control mechanisms for indirect dischargers (see Pretreatment Program).
- What is Petroleum Refining?
- Facilities Covered
- Industry Studies
- Implementation and Guidance Documents
- Rulemaking History
- Additional Information
What is Petroleum Refining?
Petroleum refineries process raw crude oil into three categories of products:
- Fuel products – Gasoline, distillate fuel oil, jet fuels, residual fuel oil, liquefied petroleum gases, refinery fuel, coke, and kerosene;
- Nonfuel products – Asphalt and road oil, lubricants, naphtha solvents, waxes, nonfuel coke, and miscellaneous products; and
- Petrochemicals and petrochemical feedstocks – Naphtha, ethane, propate, butane, ethylene, propylene, butlyene, and BTEX compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene).
|Topping (Separating Crude Oil)||Separates crude oil into hydrocarbon groups.|
|Thermal and Catalytic Cracking||Breaks large, heavy hydrocarbons from topping process into smaller hydrocarbons.|
|Combining/Rearranging Hydrocarbons||Processes hydrocarbons to form desired end products.|
|Removing impurities||Removes impurities such as sulfur, nitrogen, and metals from products or waste gas streams.|
|Specialty Products Blending and Manufacturing||Blends product streams into final products or final processing into specialty products.|
Major Wastewater Streams
|Wastewater|| Description |
|Desalter Water||Water produced from washing the raw crude prior to topping operations.|
|Sour Water||Wastewater from steam stripping and fractionating operations that comes into contact with the crude being processed.|
|Other Process Water||Wastewater from product washing, catalyst regeneration, and dehydrogenation reactions.|
|Spent Caustic||Formed in extraction of acidic compounds from product streams.|
|Tank Bottoms||Bottom sediment and water settles to the bottom of tanks used to store raw crude. The bottoms are periodically removed.|
|Cooling Tower||Once-through cooling tower water and cooling tower blowdown to prevent buildup of dissolved solids in closed-loop cooling systems.|
|Condensate Blowdown||Blowdown from boilers and steam generators to control buildup of dissolved solid.|
| Source Water Treatment System |
Blowdown and Wastewater
|Source water must be treated prior to use in the refinery. Waste streams may include water from sludge dewatering if lime softening is used; ion exchange regeneration water; or reverse osmosis wastewater.|
|Stormwater||Process area and non-process area runoff from storm events.|
|Ballast Water||Ballast water from product tankers.|
Petroleum refineries are categorized under North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 32411. (Note: the NAICS group listing is provided as a guide and does not define the coverage of the Petroleum Refining regulations. For precise definitions of coverage, see the applicability sections in 40 CFR Part 419.)
The Petroleum Refining effluent guidelines apply to facilities in five subcategories:
|Subcategory||Basic Refinery Operations Included |
|A. Topping||Topping, catalytic reforming, asphalt production, or lube oil manufacturing processes, but excluding any facility with cracking or thermal operations.|
|B. Cracking||Topping and cracking|
|C. Petrochemical||Topping, cracking and petrochemical operations*|
|D. Lube||Topping, cracking and lube oil manufacturing processes.|
|E. Integrated||Topping, cracking, lube oil manufacturing processes and petrochemical operations.*|
|* “Petrochemical operations” is the production of second generation petrochemicals (i.e. alcohols, ketones, cumene, styrene, etc.) or first generation petrochemicals and isomerization products (i.e. BTEX, olefins, cyclohexane, etc.) when 15 percent or more of refinery production is as first generation petrochemicals and isomerization products.|
Covered wastestreams include process wastewater; ballast water; once-through cooling water; contaminated and uncontaminated stormwater.
2015 Detailed Study
EPA is conducting a detailed study of the Petroleum Refining category to consider revisions to the regulations.
EPA specifically solicits data and information on the discharge of metals and dioxin from petroleum refineries, including for example, the source(s) of these contaminants, either in crude oil sources or in the refining process, the effects of new air pollution controls on wastewater discharges at refineries, and information on current and future trends in oil refining processes. The Agency also solicits data and information on current wastewater treatment technology performance at petroleum refineries, as well as any other information believed to be relevant to its study of this issue.
- 2004 Study (PDF) (127 pp, 707K) (Section 7 of the Technical Support Document for the 2004 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan; EPA 821-R-04-014, August 2004)
- 1996 Study (PDF) (128 pp, 3.2MB) (EPA 821-R-97-003, April 1996)
Implementation and Guidance Documents
- Equivalent Concentration-Based Limits for Flow-Based Standards; Pretreatment Fact Sheet 4.0 (PDF) (4 pp, 78K) (EPA 833-F-08-002, March 2008)
- Industrial Stormwater Fact Sheet
Sector C - Chemical and Allied Products Manufacturing and Refining Facilities (PDF) (8 pp, 168K) (EPA 833-F-06-018, December 2006)
- Guide for the Application of Effluent Limitations Guidelines for the Petroleum Refining Category (PDF) (246 pp, 12MB) (June 1985)
- 1985 Amendment
Revised BAT, added stormwater limits (pursuant to litigation)
- Final rule (correction): 50 FR 32414, 8/12/1985 (PDF) (1 pg, 109K)
- Final rule: 50 FR 28516, 7/12/1985 (PDF) (13 pp, 1.5MB)
- Proposed rule: 49 FR 34152, 8/28/1984 (PDF) (11 pp, 1.2MB)
- 1982 Amendment
Revised BAT, PSNS, PSES (pursuant to 1977 CWA amendments & litigation)
- Final rule: 47 FR 46434, 10/18/1982 (PDF) (24 pp, 2.7MB)
- Development Document (PDF) (385 pp, 11MB) (October 1982)
- Proposed rule: 44 FR 75926, 12/21/1979 (PDF) (24 pp, 3MB)
- 1977 Amendment
- Interim final rule: 42 FR 15684, 3/23/1977 (PDF) (7 pp, 1.1MB)
- Development Document Supplement for Pretreatment (PDF) (118 pp, 4.3MB) (EPA 440/176/083a, March 1977)
- Proposed rule: 39 FR 16574, 5/9/1974 (PDF) (2 pp, 330K)
- 1975 Amendment
Revised BPT: TSS and chromium-VI limits
- Final rule: 40 FR 21939, 5/20/1975 (PDF) (16 pp, 2.3MB)
- Proposed rule: 39 FR 37069, 10/17/1974 (PDF) (3 pp, 360K)
- 1974 Initial Rulemaking
Established BPT, BAT, NSPS, PSNS
For additional information regarding the existing Petroleum Refining Effluent Guidelines regulations, please contact Ahmar Siddiqui, email@example.com or 202-566-1044.
For additional information regarding the 2015 Detailed Study, please contact Samantha Lewis, firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-566-1058.