Infrared imaging used as environmental policy enforcement tool

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The DCMR Environmental Protection Agency, operating in Rijnmond, the larger 'Port of Rotterdam' area in the Netherlands, has purchased a thermal imager for use as part of its duties in regulation of industries, and monitoring and assisting authorities on developing environmental policy.

The DCMR issues permits to virtually all of the 22,000 enterprises in the area and carries out more than 9,000 inspections to monitor compliance with the permit conditions. It will use a GF320 optical gas imaging camera from Flir Advanced Thermal Solutions for inspections and law enforcement tasks.

In recent years the DCMR performed field studies to measure and quantify the total emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from industrial sources in the Rotterdam port area. The measurements indicate that the fugitive VOC emissions were about three to four times higher than the emissions that are annually reported to the DCMR.

The initial focus for using the camera will be on inspecting storage tanks, vapour recovery units, and VOC handling activities of refineries and storage and handling facilities. The camera will be used to develop a standard and solid working method that can be used as a law enforcement tool. For this reason effort will also be put in making a NTA (Dutch Technical Agreement) together with other stakeholders to make the Flir GF320 camera an even more accepted method. The final goal of the DCMR will be to reduce many kilotons of VOC's emissions with aid of infrared imaging.

The camera is a real-time infrared camera designed for use in harsh industrial environments. It takes advantage of state-of-the-art focal plane array detector and optical systems that are tuned to very narrow spectral infrared ranges. This enables the camera to image infrared energy absorbed by certain environmentally polluting gases. Images are processed and enhanced by the Flir High Sensitivity Mode feature to show clearly the presence of gases against stationary backgrounds.

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