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Shell Chemical East (26336), Norco

LDEQ Accident Report

Accident #145352
State Police #12-07869
Accident Date2012-12-13
Report Date 2012-12-20
Follow-up Date 0000-00-00
Follow-up: No

Pollutants Released

Pollutant Duration Point Source Greenhouse Gas Criteria Pollutant Ozone forming chemical Amount of Release
1,3-Butadiene3HOL-5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84)NONOYES117.1 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide3HOL-5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84)NOYESYES69.5 pounds
Carbon Monoxide3HOL-5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84)NOYESNO378.1 pounds
Particulate Matter3HOL-5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84)NOYESNO13.1 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)3HOL-5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84)NONOYES272.3 pounds

Accident Classified As: Reportable Quantity

Cause of Problem: Maintenance/Procedures

Shell Chemical's OL-5 Process Unit experienced an unexpected unit upset which led to flaring at the OL-5 Elevated Flare. This process upset was caused by the production of off specification debutanizer overhead product. The off specification debutanizer overhead product was caused by temperature control issues while OL-5 operations was in the process of swapping heat exchangers.

Discharge Preventable - No

This incident was not preventable by Shell. The fouling of the exchanger was not expected.

Notes/Remedial Actions

OL-5 Operations left both exchangers in service to regain temperature control and recover from the unit upset and stop the flaring. OL-5 Operations will return to single exchanger operation as soon as practical and clean the fouled exchanger. The cause of the exchanger fouling is attributred o the breaking off of polymer produced in the process. The polymer was believed to have been broken off and moved into the exchanger causing it to be fouled during a recent, unexpected process upset. A further investigation into the cause of this incident will be conducted and any preventative actions discovered will be implemented.