Norco explosion, fire caused by faulty pipe

August 22, 2014 at 10:32 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Residents in Luling, miles away from the explosion, said they felt the blast.
Residents in Luling, miles away from the explosion, said they felt the blast.
A pipe malfunction is reportedly behind a powerful explosion that was felt throughout the parish and caused a fire at the Diamond Green Diesel Refinery in Norco in early August.

A “unauthorized discharge notification report” released by Diamond Green Diesel to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) focused in on a malfunctioning overhead vapor line in the facility, saying that is where the explosion occurred and a subsequent fire originated.

Although no one was injured in the blast, St. Charles Parish residents felt the explosion miles away in Luling.

According to the report, the fire began shortly after an explosion at the facility at 9:40 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3 and lasted approximately two and a half hours. Diamond Green Diesel began air monitoring in the area while the fire was being extinguished and the emissions released due to the explosion  are still being calculated.

However, Diamond Green Diesel did admit to exceeding emission limits during the incident for carcinogenic volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

“The incident resulted in VOC (volatile organic compound) losses from the leak, as well as combustion emission from the fire and depressurization of the facility flare. The resulting emissions were released to the atmosphere and dispersed,” the report reads.

Such emissions could be subject to fines by the LDEQ. Diamond Green Diesel also reported that a small oil leak of five to 10 gallons occurred on the property, but was extricated by a vacuum truck and by removing affected soil.

The report states that the oil is not believed to have affected nearby groundwater.

As far as preventing such an incident from happening in the future, Diamond Green Diesel said that the incident is still under investigation and that no new procedures or preventive measures have yet been identified.

Diamond Green Diesel was constructed on the campus of the Valero refinery in Norco last year at a cost of $368 million. The refinery produces renewable diesel fuel and employs 40 full-time workers.

View other articles written Kyle Barnett

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