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Valero (26003), Norco

LDEQ Accident Report

Accident #134352
State Police #11-06236
Accident Date2011-10-04
Report Date 2011-10-12
Follow-up Date 2011-12-05
Follow-up: Yes

Pollutants Released

Pollutant Duration Point Source Greenhouse Gas Criteria Pollutant Ozone forming chemical Amount of Release
Benzene55 hCooling Tower 800NONOYES1,027.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)55 hCooling Tower 800NONOYES37,495.0 pounds

Accident Classified As: Reportable Quantity

Cause of Problem: Corrosion

While conducting routine El Paso Method cooling tower monitoring on 10/4/11, Valero detected elevated hydrocarbon levels at Cooling Tower-800 (CT-800) but these were not above reportable quantity. They began manually sampling coolers and heat exchangers serviced by CT-800 in an attempt to identify the source. On 10/6/11 a Gasoline Desulfurization Unit (GDU) exchanger showed indications of a leak and it was isolated and removed from service. However, conditions did not improve and continued sampling revealed a leaking exchanger in the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU). Once removed from service on 10/6/11 conditions in CT-800 returned to normal. Valero estimated that the RQ's for benzene and VOC's were exceeded on 10/6/11 based upon El Paso monitoring results collected that day. The leading exchanger bundle was inspected and results suggest the leak was due to low cooling water velocity and under deposit corrosion.

Discharge Preventable - Yes

The incident was reasonably preventable.

Notes/Remedial Actions

VOCs were released from CT-800 and dispersed. The heat exchangers believed to be leaking were isolated from service. Sampling was conducted at the cooling tower and at exchangers until emission rates returned to normal. The following corrective actions were identified to prevent recurrence of this event: (1) Re-analyze past exchanger inspection results and confirm recommendations. (2)Increase the frequency of calibration of residual chlorine analyzers on all cooling towers. (3) Improve exchanger leak identification training and internal reporting. The weather during this incident was a sunny, 81 degrees, with a wind speed of 7 mph.