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Shell Chemical East (26336), Norco

LDEQ Accident Report

Accident #155267
PDF AvailablePDF
State Police #14-01665
Accident Date2014-04-15
Report Date 2014-04-22
Follow-up Date 2014-06-12
Follow-up: Yes

Pollutants Released

Pollutant Duration Point Source Greenhouse Gas Criteria Pollutant Ozone forming chemical Amount of Release
Highly Reactive Volatile Organic Compounds (HRVOCs)9h 12mOL5 Unit RVNONONO100.2 pounds
Carbon Monoxide9h 12mOL5 Unit RVNOYESNO1,419.0 pounds
NOx9h 12mOL5 Unit RVNONOYES261.0 pounds
Particulate Matter9h 12mOL5 Unit RVNOYESNO49.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)9h 12mOL5 Unit RVNONOYES100.2 pounds

Accident Classified As: Reportable Quantity

Cause of Problem: Equipment Failure

On 4/15/14, Shell Chemical's OL5 Unit flared process gas at the OL5 Ground Flare due to a relief valve (RV) on the ethylene product heater unexpectedly lifting. The pressure transmitters and gauges throughout the ethylene product system did not indicate any abnormal unit operation. It was determined that the relief valve malfunctioned by lifting prematurely.

Discharge Preventable - No

The lifting of the malfunctioned RV was unexpected.

Notes/Remedial Actions

To minimize additional unit upsets and impacts, operations personnel verified the readings from the pressure transmitters and gauges throughout the ethylene product system. Operations personnel safely removed the malfunctioning RV from services and subsequently replaced it. The malfunctioning RV was replaced on 4/22/14. Note that some reporting inconsistencies should lead to questions about the actual amounts released. For example, the refinery report suggests that total VOCs and HRVOCs are the same in the reporting documents. Further, some calculation errors seem apparent, as seen in the last row of table V.5; researcher asserts that the value in the last cell should be 0.23 rather than 100.23.