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Shell Chemical East (26336), Norco

LDEQ Accident Report

Accident #150876
PDF AvailablePDF
State Police #13-03968
Accident Date2013-09-08
Report Date 2013-09-12
Follow-up Date 2013-10-29
Follow-up: Yes

Pollutants Released

Pollutant Duration Point Source Greenhouse Gas Criteria Pollutant Ozone forming chemical Amount of Release
Carbon Monoxide18h 42mOL5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84) and Ground Flare (EPN 7-84)NOYESNO8,094.0 pounds
NOx19h 21mOL5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84) and Ground Flare (EPN 7-84)NONOYES1,487.6 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)18h 42mOL5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84) and Ground Flare (EPN 7-84)NONOYES3,775.1 pounds
Particulate Matter18h 42mOL5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84) and Ground Flare (EPN 7-84)NOYESNO590.7 pounds
Highly Reactive Volatile Organic Compounds (HRVOCs)18h 42mOL5 Elevated Flare (EPN 6-84) and Ground Flare (EPN 7-84)NONONO664.0 pounds

Accident Classified As: Reportable Quantity

Cause of Problem: Equipment Failure

On the night of September 8, 2013, Shell Chemical's OL-5 Unit experienced plugging of their online recycle filter located on the bottom of the pyrolysis fractionator (pyrofrac). Once plugged, the level at the bottom of the pyrofrac increased resulting in the level of the quench drum to decrease. This resulted in diversion of feed from several furnaces at OL-5. While stabilizing the OL-5 process unit, operations personnel experienced an upset in the process streams that resulted in flaring at the OL-5 Elevated Flare and OL-5 ground flare.

Discharge Preventable - No

Double filter plugging was unexpected.

Notes/Remedial Actions

To minimize impacts, OL-5 operations made various process adjustments, while taking the furnaces off line. These adjustments stabilized the unit and reduced, eventually eliminating, the flaring. These adjustments also prevented the unit from shutting down. To prevent future occurrences, additional filters will be installed to create a robust filtering system. Report states that all released materials were dispersed naturally in the atmosphere from the OL5 Ground and OL5 Elevated flare stacks. Initial report stated that no reportable quantities were exceeded. Following the investigation and calculations, Shell Chemical confirmed they exceeded the reportable quantity for highly reactive volatile organic compounds.