Fuel vapor is composed of a wide variety of volatile organic compounds. These compounds contain, among other things, toxic and carcinogenic substances that endanger the people in and near the gas station. Among the components of fuel vapor is benzene, which has been defined as carcinogenic to humans by the World Health Organization. Based on the emissions inventory of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, gas stations are responsible for about 20% of the organic pollutant emissions in Israel.
Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin: "After a long period of preparation, regulations have passed in the Knesset that will prevent air pollution from gas stations. People must go to gas stations frequently; therefore this is good news for the public: A significant reduction in organic pollutants that will be emitted into the air and an improvement in the quality of the air we breathe. This regulation has many advantages, since every gas station will be required to install a vapor system, without any dependence on a business license or cost overruns, while at the same time an enforcement tool is being created through the imposition of fines. In addition, the implementation of the regulations will lead to future savings for gas stations and for the entire economy."
Fuel vapor is emitted into the air:
- during the unloading of gasoline from refueling tankers to the underground tank of the station,
- when putting gas into cars, and
- during vapor leaks that could occur as a result of non-sealed fuel systems.
A Stage I vapor recovery system would reduce emissions during the unloading of refueling tankers by 90%. A Stage II system would reduce emissions during refueling by 85%.
The Ministry began to gradually require gas stations in Israel to install Stage I systems under the terms of their business licenses about two decades ago. It began to require the installation of Stage II vapor recovery systems in 2007, under the terms of the gas station business license. Tools to enforce the Business Licensing Law, however, are limited, and do not include financial sanctions. Therefore these new regulations are imoprtant and will create a new norm. A fueling station that violates the regulations could face financial sanctions of NIS 400,000 or more.
It should be noted that according to the Ministry’s data, the average cost of purchasing and installing a Stage II vapor recovery system station is about NIS 200,000. However, this type of system will ultimately result in financial savings, since it reduces the amount of fuel that will be lost.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection estimates that pollution from gas stations creates external costs amounting to NIS 87,000 per year per station, due to the public’s exposure to air pollution, which endangers public health. Thus, the proposed regulations will lead to significant savings for the entire economy as well as for the gas stations themselves.