Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR)

Developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), leak detection and repair (LDAR) regulations help reduce and eliminate unintended emissions of liquids and gases. It is a work practice used to identify leaking equipment through monitoring to reduce emissions through repairs. Companies working with oil, gas, and chemicals are required by law to to follow these regulations by implementing a comprehensive LDAR program.

What are volatile organic compounds?

VOCs can be found virtually anywhere, either occurring naturally or made by humans, but can be damaging to human health due to the sheer volume and constant exposure during manufacturing processes. Some types of VOCs (like benzene and toluene) are also classified as volatile hazardous air pollutants (VHAPs) which has the potential to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, leaking equipment (like valves, pumps and connectors) are the largest source of emissions of volatile organic compounds and volatile hazardous air pollutants from petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturing facilities.

What is an LDAR program?

There are two ways facilities can control emissions from equipment leaks: by enforcing an LDAR program or by modifying/replacing leaking equipment with "leakless" components (like leakless valves and sealless pumps. Using a combination of both of these methods can greatly reduce a facility's VOC emissions and improve the safety of employees. Although leak detection regulations can vary based on industry or jurisdiction, a thorough LDAR program includes the five follow elements:

  • Identifying components: Assign a number to each regulated component and using something like a valve tag, clearly identify each component.
  • Leak detection: Determine the leak definition (a threshold standard measured in PPM) of components and work to standardize leak definitions wherever possible to avoid confusion.
  • Monitoring components: Follow EPA Reference Method 21 for identifying leaking components with portable detection devices.
  • Repairing components: Repairs should be initiated as soon possible (and within a reasonable timeframe).
  • Recordkeeping: Maintain documentation of equipment designs and equipment inspections.

A written LDAR program will detail regulatory requirements and what facility-specific procedures are in place for recordkeeping, monitoring, and repairs. Additionally, the individuals working with leak detection systems should be listed as part of the LDAR team along with their role. This team is also responsible for conducting periodic LDAR audits to ensure effectiveness and correct any issues.

 
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