Home Search Emissions Pollutants About the Database

Motiva Enterprises (1406), Norco

Causal Factor: Maintenance/Procedures

LDEQ Accident Number
Accident Date
Point Source(s) Notes Amount of Release

Catalytic Reformer #1 Unit
Cause: During excavation activities with the construction of a new flare knockout pot at the CR-1 unit, liquid hydrocarbons were observed seeping into the excavation.

Followup: No

Notes: The area in question was previously investigated and it was determined that there was a single concentration of Benzene that exceeded the RECAP screening standard but fell below the MO-1 standard; there was a conference on 10 18 05 between Oliver Boyd and someone from the LDEQ division and it was agreed that since the area was being managed under the approved east site groundwater management program, no further assessment or action is warranted.


Sanitary sewer lift station
Wastewater treatment facility, LPDES Outfall 06
Cause: A portion of the treatment process for the released material was bypassed -- traced to maintenance work performed on 08/11/05 to install a conduit seal on the lift station; the lift station was incorrectly re-wired after the installation, which disabled the automatic start function of the lift station pump.

Followup: No

Notes: Control switch on sanitary lift station pump was switched from automatic to manual position, starting the pump and stopping overflow. A vacuum truck was used to removed the liquid from the lift station and prevent additional overflow. While a portion of the process was bypassed, Motiva noted that the material did receive treatment prior to discharg
Sanitary Sewage: 50.0 gallons


RCCU Flare (EPN #8-84), West Operations Ground Flare (WOGF- EPN 9-84)
Cause: "Maintenance was turning a blind when contents of the line began spraying from the line." Flaring occurred at the RCCU flare following the event during the RCCU unit startup. Additional downstream flaring occurred at the Shell Chemical LP GO-1 elevated flare and the Motiva West Operations Ground Flare.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Remedial actions: Vacuum trucks were deployed in attempt to capture the oil in the RCCU drainage system. Feed was immediately diverted from the unit. Flow into the main fractionator column was minimized while isolations were being made to the slurry circulation system. VSERT was activated to make positive isolation of the leak. Concerning recurrence prevention, Motiva's incident investigations group is investigation the incident and recommendations will be addressed.


Nitrogen Oxide: 218.0 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 916.0 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 1,072.0 pounds
Particulate Matter: 24.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 597.0 pounds
Hexane: 1.0 pounds

Tank A-405
Cause: Tank A-405 was being emptied for inspection. After several truck loads of solids were removed, some products/solids splashed out of the manway onto the ground. Material which had adhered to the sidewall of the tank may have fallen into residual materials in the tank bottom, causing a wave of material to splash out of the manway. The material overfilled the secondary containment which had been placed under the manway.

Followup: No

Notes: The material was released to the soil and hydrocarbon vapors dispersed to the air naturally. Pumper trucks and clean up crews were immediately called to recover the oil. Upon completion of free-product removal, all stained soils were excavated. Soils that were removed were disposed of in the Motiva on-site landfill.
Oil: 210.0 gallons
No LDEQ Reported

RCCU Flare (EPN 8-84)
Cause: Event due to the decontamination of process equipment at the RCCU.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Investigation ongoing as of 10/12/06. No follow-up report can be located due to lack of LDEQ number.


Alkylation Unit Utililty Column PV-1108
Cause: A flammable gas leak was identified in Motiva's Alkylation unit on Utility Column PV-1108. While performing sandblasting work on the vessel, a Basic Industries employee discovered a hydrocarbon leak on the vessel, and Motiva Operations was notified.

Followup: Yes

Notes: The Norco VSERT team was activated to verify that this was a hydrocarbon leak. Once this was verified, unit operators shutdown the Alkylation Unit, isolated Utility Column PV-1108, and plugged the hole in the column to stop the leak. To prevent recurrence, Motiva has made permanent repairs to the Alkylation Utility Column PV-1108 and plans to inspect it on a routine basis. Motiva now requires sandblasting contracts to have sandblasting quality control systems in place. Motiva Coordinators perform random job site audits of sandblasting work areas to assure that quality control systems are being practiced.
Flammable Gas: 6,722.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 6,722.0 pounds
Highly Reactive Volatile Organic Compounds (HRVOCs): 6,722.0 pounds


Cause: Maintenance activities caused 3 barrels of oil to spill into the conveyance system.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Spill booms were deployed and vacuum trucks picked up material from water at the booms. Incident is listed as below reportable quantity because all oil, oil/water emulsion, and water were recovered from the wastewater system.
Oil: 126.0 gallons

Tank F0458 floating roof
Cause: An air bubble was trapped in a feed line from a recent line flushing, causing material to escaped through the seal on the floating roof of tank F-458.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Lines feeding the tank were immediately shut down and the material was pumped into the tank for recovery.


plug from a line
Cause: during a maintenance operations a plug was blown from its line due to high water pressure levels. This in turn caused the plug to break free and allow the sour water (containing benzene) to be released

Followup: No

Notes: There was not an official verification of what was carried out to remediate the problem. It was noted that vacuum trucks might have been able to handle the spill and that a new valve would be inserted to close off the line and stop the leak. Because the release spilled onto the concrete containment where the PPI separator is, that unit was blocked off.


FLARE: S-2 & S-3 Sulfur units; Coker flare (FE-401), Shell Go-1 & OL-5 Flares
FLARE:Shell Go-1 & OL-5 Flares
Cause: Motiva's S-2 and S-3 sulfur plants tripped offline while analyzer FI-3677 was being calibrated. During analyzer calibration, air flow was reduced, initiating shutdown of S-2. Acid gas was diverted through to S-3 and pushed into gas knock out drum resulting in shut down of S-3. Acid gas was routed to Coker Flare and Shell's Go-1 flare. Shared incident with SHELL CHEMICAL LP. Emissions included flaring from both facilities.

Followup: Yes

Notes: RQ. Sulfur plants were restarted, operating procedures for safely calibrating instruments will be developed and included in operations training program, training conducted for personnel. Calculations provided confirm that the reportable quantity for sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter was exceeded.
Sulfur Dioxide: 28,215.0 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 3,972.0 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide: 659.5 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 989.5 pounds
Hexane: 85.0 pounds
Benzene: 0.1 pounds

DU5 Unit
Cause: LDEQ field report states that incident involved a fire and heavy gas oil leak in the DU5 Unit. Resulted in shut down of DU5, SATS, and DIH units. FIRE. LDEQ report states that "facility failed to perform operating procedures to prevent or reduce air pollution as required by LAC 33:III:905 A.

Followup: Yes

Notes: RQ. Reportable quantity for particulate matter and CO were exceeded. LDEQ field report states that according to facility personnel perimeter air monitoring at time of fire was conducted and indicated no off-site impact. As of 1/23/10 approximately 12,000 gallons of skimmed material [oil & water] had been collected. FOLLOW-UP: Resulted in emergency condition. Fire was extinguished. Vacuum trucks and boom deployed to contain spill and firefighting fluid. Soil excavated and transported to landfill.
Oil: 42.0 gallons
Carbon Monoxide: 8,193.0 pounds
Particulate Matter: 7,832.0 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide: 120.5 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 241.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 936.0 pounds
Benzene: 5.0 pounds

Sewage Line
Cause: While flushing a sewer line with utility water for freeze precaution, a bleed off valve leaked sewerage to the river. Approximately 1 quart of sewerage entered the river. OFFSITE IMPACT.

Followup: No

Notes: No information given.
Sewage: 0.3 gallons

Residual Cat Cracking Unit (RCCU)
Cause: On 12/14/11 Motiva Enterprises' Residual Cat Cracking Unit (RCCU) inadvertently released catalyst material while performing maintenance work on a RCCU slide valve. The maintenance work was being performed as part of a maintenance plan, and the process unit was not operating at the time of the release. Data gathering to perform calculations and investigation are ongoing. Motiva said they would provide an update within 60 days are required but report shows no record of such update.

Followup: No

Notes: No Information Given.


vent knockout drum PV-134
Cause: On 12/2/11 at 7:40 pm a resident of Norco, LA phoned the Motiva Norco Site Supervisor and communicated that a strong odor was coming from the site into the community. An immediate investigation by onsite personnel determined that the odor was from Motiva's Coker Unit. While depressuring the coke drum, PV-917, sour water in the vent knockout drum, PV-134, was pressured out into the atmosphere causing a strong odor. The refinery claims the odor dissipated by 9:00 pm. A follow-up call was made to the resident describing what was found. The resident stated that the smell was gone.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Initial report says that the odor was traced to the Coker unit and that the coker unit was operating normal, but that the wind was blowing toward the neighbor's house. Further investigation shows there was a release. Weather at the time of the incident was 58 degrees and clear. The winds were out of the East/Northeast at 3mph.


Cat Cracker
Cause: While restarting the cat cracker until, materials flared


Notes: No refinery letter.


HCU Elevated Flare (EPN 4-84)
Cause: On April 28, 2011 at 0717, Motiva's Hydrogen Unit experienced a release to the atmosphere from a loss of pilot flame at HCU Elevated Flare (EPN 4-84). Prior to the release, Motiva's Hydrogen Unit was in the process of restarting the unit after a planned maintenance activity. As part of the unit re-start procedure, operators are required to purge process vessels with steam and nitrogen to the HCU flare header in order to remove any excess oxygen that may have been entrained in the process vessels and/or piping as a result of maintenance activities. Following an investigation of this incident, Motiva has determined that steam was introduced into the Hydrogen plant process too quickly, causing a spike in nitrogen to the HCU flare which extinguished the flare pilots for approximately 6 minutes.

Followup: No

Notes: Operations responded immediately to the pilot loss alarm by reducing the steam rate to the flare header and re-lighting the flare pilots. In order to prevent a similar incident in the future, a step will be added to the unit startup procedure to slowly increase the steam purge rate in 50lb increments and hold each rate constant for 30 minutes before increasing to the next flow rate.


PC2023B Valve
Cause: During starting up process unit, pressure build and pressure swing at the Deisohexanizer column caused release of several chemicals via relief valve PC2023B and RV-1144.

Followup: No

Notes: Flare.


Hydrocracking Unit
Cause: On August 8, 2014 Motiva's Hydrocracking Unit (HCU) flared process gas at the HCU Elevated Flare (FE-301) due to the shutdown and subsequent start up of the unit. HCU safely shutdown to repair a ruptured tube on a fin fan cooler. The ruptured tube caused a diesel release that remained in secondary containment. Data gathering and calculations confirm no reportable quantities were exceeded during the release. However, the permitted maximum hourly emission rate limit for benzene, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds were exceeded.

Followup: No

Notes: Operations was able to isolate the fin fan to stop the diesel release. The unit was restarted on August 14.
Carbon Monoxide: 1,244.5 pounds
NOx: 228.7 pounds
Particulate Matter: 43.1 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 605.0 pounds
Hexane: 1.8 pounds
Benzene: 0.3 pounds