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Shell Chemical East (26336), Norco

LDEQ Accident Report

Accident #151584
PDF AvailablePDF
State Police #13-04528
Accident Date2013-10-11
Report Date 2013-10-18
Follow-up Date 2013-11-20
Follow-up: Yes

Pollutants Released

Pollutant Duration Point Source Greenhouse Gas Criteria Pollutant Ozone forming chemical Amount of Release
Carbon Monoxide8h 1mOL-5 Ground and Elevated FlaresNOYESNO5,873.6 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide8h 1mOL-5 Ground and Elevated FlaresNOYESYES1,079.5 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)8h 1mOL-5 Ground and Elevated FlaresNONOYES3,115.3 pounds
Particulate Matter8h 1mOL-5 Ground and Elevated FlaresNOYESNO3,016.2 pounds
Highly Reactive Volatile Organic Compounds (HRVOCs)8h 1mOL-5 Ground and Elevated FlaresNONONO1,460.0 pounds

Accident Classified As: Reportable Quantity

Cause of Problem: Power Failure

On October 11, 2013, Shell Chemical's OL-5 Process Unit experienced an unexpected power failure which resulted in the shutdown of several pumps in the OL-5 Process Unit leading to a process upset and flaring at the OL-5 Ground Flare and OL-5 Elevated Flare. Several breakers in the main central control room were lost. The transformer that supplies power to these breakers tripped unexpectedly. This resulted in the shutdown of several pumps in the OL-5 Process Unit. Most of the pumps that shutdown had back-up spare pumps available and the spare pumps either automatically started or operations manually started them. The ethylene product pump did not have a back-up spare pump available. OL-5 was unable to send ethylene product to the downstream pipeline. This resulted in an inability to remove ethylene product from OL-5's C2 Splitter column and the pressure of the C2 Splitter increased. Elevated pressure in the C2 Splitter column was controlled by relieving to the OL-5 Ground Flare and OL-5 Elevated Flare.

Discharge Preventable - No

The transformer tripping was unexpected.

Notes/Remedial Actions

To minimize impacts, spared pumps automatically started and operations started spare pumps manually that do not auto start. After securing and stabilizing the unit, OL-5 operations contacted electrical engineering and maintenance to repair the tripped transformer. On the evening of October 11, 2013, repairs to the transformer were completed, the transformer was placed back in service and flaring stopped. It has been determined that there are not any measures that could be taken to prevent the recurrence of this incident or a similar incident. Report states that all released materials were dispersed naturally in the atmosphere from the OL5 Ground and OL5 Elevated flare stacks. Shell Chemical confirmed that reportable quantity for Highly Reactive Organic Compounds (ethylene and propylene) was exceeded. The maximum permitted limits were exceeded for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds.