St. Charles Herald-Guide

Flare incident and unsecured emissions reported at Motiva plant

By Kyle Barnett - May 9, 2012  Video Included Video Included

An incident resulting in an unsecured release of chemicals and flaring at the Motiva plant in Norco was reported Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.



A report to the National Response Center cited the flare as due to a loss of function of a CO heater during a storm, which resulted in a “shake up” in the "steam load" shed. The report stated part of the plant was shut down, but an unknown amount of chemicals including butadiene, benzene, carbon monoxide, ethylene, hydrogen sulfide, propylene and sulfur dioxide were released into the atmosphere.

  

The report cited that problem as being fixed with the flare stack still smoking at 7:09 p.m. Tuesday night.

 

Tim Beckstrom, Public Information Officer with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said the flaring occurred again on Wednesday morning.

 

“There is a 7:50 a.m. report this morning that noted it was still flaring and they were working to get the unit back up,” said Beckstrom. “It was going to be several hours.”

 

Beckstrom said Shell reported levels of emissions of hexane and catalyst exceeding an allowable level and that they are still trying to get all of the equipment involved in the incident functioning properly again.

 

Shell will now have to submit an incident report to DEQ who will investigate if allowable levels of chemical emissions were exceeded.   

 

“[T]hey are going to have to put a letter in the mail that is postmarked, which describes the event, not their opinion of the event, but what they’ve gathered from their process of the event, just letting us know what has happened,” said Beckstrom. “And then we’ll put that on file and it ultimately goes on our system which is for public view.”

 

The Motiva plant is a cooperative effort between Shell and Saudi Arabia Refining, Inc.

 

(Video shows the incident from Tuesday night.)