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US phasing out Stage II vapour recovery

05 June, 2013

Legislation requiring petrol stations to have stage II Vapour Recovery Systems is rapidly being repealed in the US, but although the UK follows the US in many other respects, experts say it is highly unlikely the expensive requirements will be lifted here.

In the US the government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised states to repeal legislation requiring petrol stations to have stage II Vapour Recovery systems, and this week Connecticut became the latest to do so with a unanimous 34-0 vote in favour in the state Senate.

The EPA said that stage II Vapour Recovery Systems were now no longer needed because of in-car vapour recovery systems in use in the US, and it advised that in some cases the stage II Vapour Recovery Systems were incompatible with the in-car equipment and the two counter-acted each other.

In Connecticut, Senator Bob Duff emphasised the extra cost for petrol station owners of equipment for stage II vapour recovery, and the additional expense of having the equipment maintained and tested annually.

He said: “This legislation is a win-win for consumers, businesses and the environment. We are repealing an obsolete gas pump equipment requirement which has become incompatible with the technology incorporated into modern cars. Doing so will actually reduce harmful gasoline emissions while saving gas station owners money.”

However such a move in the UK is highly unlikely, according to Jamie Thompson, chairman of the technical committee of the Association for Petroleum & Explosives Administration.

Legislation currently requires UK sites selling more than 3.5mlpa to have vapour recovery systems, and a second European Directive will encompass sites selling smaller volumes by the end of 2018.

Thompson said the crucial difference between the US and the UK was the use of carbon cannisters in the fuel tanks of cars in the US. These devices soak up any vapour rendering US stage II Vapour Recovery Systems redundant.

However, there is no such requirement for the fuel tanks of cars in the UK, and even if there were, said Thompson, it would take many years before they were widespread enough to make stage II Vapour Recovery Systems redundant.

He said: “The cost of vapour recovery has to be borne either by the petrol station owners or by the car manufacturers, and in the UK it is the petrol station owners who pay.”