Release 09-20
March 5, 2009

    Dimitri Stanich
April 1st Deadline for Gas Station Upgrades
Vapor recovery improvements will protect public health

Infrared video dramatically showing uncontrolled emissions

Media outlets interested in broadcast quality versions should contact ARB public information office for copies.

SACRAMENTO - Today, the Air Resources Board (ARB) is reminding owners of California's approximate 11,000 gas stations to avoid penalties by making sure their dispensing systems meet state emission standards by April 1.

The required improved nozzles and vapor processors will eliminate the daily release of up to ten tons of smog-forming compounds from spillage and fugitive emissions.

"These more efficient dispensers reduce smog forming emissions and protect the environment," said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols, "all for less than a penny per gallon."

The requirements will be enforced by personnel from ARB and the 35 air districts throughout the state and apply to gasoline-dispensing facilities in regions that fail to meet federal ozone standards - including the Los Angeles basin, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, greater Sacramento region and San Diego.

Officials expect that some businesses may miss the compliance date and are encouraging them to contact local air district representatives as soon as possible to work on a plan for compliance and avoid closure. If they can show a good faith effort in reaching compliance they may avoid fines. Those who will be fined are those who have shown blatant disregard for the law and may result in substantial penalties ranging from several hundred dollars to forced closure.

Gasoline vapors are primarily made of hydrocarbons, which react with other air pollutants to form ozone. The main constituent of smog, ozone can lead to asthmatic and other respiratory health problems. The new systems will also reduce consumer exposures to benzene, a constituent of gasoline and known carcinogen.

California's ARB manages the emissions from the state's gasoline distribution system, including storage and transfer operations. ARB has required vapor recovery systems in California for over 30 years. Before the implementation of the current regulations adopted in March 2000, vapor controls eliminated 347 tons of hydrocarbon emissions daily. When fully implemented the enhanced vapor recovery regulations will reduce emissions by an additional 25 tons/day statewide.

ARB experts estimate that the retrofits will cost roughly $11,000 per pump. Statewide about 70 percent of gas station owners have already obtained needed permits from their local air districts for the required upgrade.

Facility operators should contact their local air district for specific requirements before modifying facilities. Information to assist station owners is also available at

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.