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Motiva Enterprises (1406), Norco

Causal Factor: Process Upset

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

GO-1 Elevated Flare
Cause: Flaring due to a process upset associated with the GO-1 Diethanolamine (DEA) treater tower.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Remedial actions: untreated dry gas sent to the refinery fuel gas system and flared; it is not yet known whether this was preventable because the cause is unknown.
Hydrogen Sulfide: 100.0 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 17,766.0 pounds
Hexane: 5,014.0 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 165.0 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide: 280.0 pounds
Particulate Matter: 53.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 83.0 pounds

Coker Unit
Cause: Relief valve on the coker drum opened venting pollutant to atmosphere.

Followup: No

Benzene: 27.0 pounds
Flammable Gas: 3,809.0 pounds

None Reported
Cause: Incident due to an upset at the GO-1 process unit.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Potential permit limit exceedence from the West Ops Ground Flare (EPN #9-84). Follow-up report promised as of 03/11/05; cannot be located on LDEQ database as of 07/17/13.

GO-1 Elevated Flare
OL-5 Elevated Flare
Cause: Incident began at Shell Chemical's facility. Boil #9 at Shell Chemical shut down when wet steam was supplied to the pumps from the steam header. Wet steam caused the pumps to slow down, shutting down the boiler. To prevent shutdown of the plant, a planned sequence shut certain units down, causing a larger flaring incident. The root cause of the wet steam is stated as under investigation as of 10/05/09.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Flaring continued until Boiler #9 could be returned to service and steam production returned to normal. The process units were then safely returned to normal operation conditions once steam capacity was back to normal. An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the wet steam and appropriate preventative measures will be put in place. Flaring occurred at both the Motiva Norco facility and Shell Chemical facility. Flaring was not continuous throughout the incident start and end dates.
Carbon Monoxide: 165.0 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide: 30.0 pounds
Particulate Matter: 6.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 60.0 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 3,610.0 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide: 663.0 pounds
Particulate Matter: 125.0 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 17,463.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 917.0 pounds
Hexane: 1.0 pounds

West Ops Ground Flare (EPN# 9-84)
Cause: An unexpected shutdown of two process compressors at Shell Chemical's GO-1 Process Unit caused flaring at Motiva's West Operations Ground Flare (EPN #9-84).

Followup: No

Notes: Flaring was not continuous throughout start and end dates.
Nitrogen Oxide: 34.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 80.0 pounds
Toluene: 0.1 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 5.0 pounds
Benzene: 1.3 pounds

West Ops Ground Flare (EPN# 9-84)
Cause: Shell Chemical's GO-1 Process Unit experienced an exchanger leak, which led to a process unit shutdown and startup in order to complete repairs. GO-1's DEAD treater was also upset. This led to flaring at the Motiva West Operations Ground Flare.

Followup: No

Notes: Process gases were flared at the Motiva West Ops Ground Flare until the GO-1 process unit was restarted and under control. No further remedial actions; the incident was not under the control of Motiva. Flaring was not continuous throughout the start and end dates. The West Ops Ground Flare is owned and operated by Motiva Enterprises, LLC. SCOGI Louisiana Holdings LLC and Shell Chemical LP are the owner and operator of the GO-1 process unit.
Sulfur Dioxide: 1,173.0 pounds
Benzene: 151.0 pounds
Hexane: 38.0 pounds
Toluene: 82.0 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 18,796.0 pounds
Particulate Matter: 650.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 4,240.0 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide: 3,455.0 pounds

West Ops Ground Flare (EPN# 9-84)
Cause: Incident due to an upset at Shell Chemical's GO-1 process unit.

Followup: No

Notes: Letter states that no RQ's were exceeded. Little info given regarding cause and duration.
1,3-Butadiene: 13.0 pounds
Benzene: 2.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 5.0 pounds

West Ops Ground Flare (EPN# 9-84)
Cause: Incident due to an upset at Shell Chemical's GO-1 Process Unit that led to an increase in pressure of the pyro-fract column. The increased pressure led to the opening of a relief device used to protect the column. Some of the material from the relief device was flared at the Motiva West Operations Ground Flare.

Followup: No

Notes: Process gases were flared at the West Ops Ground Flare until Shell Chemical's GO-1 Process Unit was under control. The incident was not under the control of Motiva Enterprises, LLC.
Benzene: 0.6 pounds
Toluene: 0.4 pounds

None Reported
Cause: Incident due to unit upset condition at Hydrocracker Unit; caused a potential permit limit exceedance from the HCU Flare (EPN #4-84).

Followup: Yes

Notes: No information given. Follow-up report promised in 03/23/06 report, cannot be located on LDEQ database as of 07/18/13.

West Ops Ground Flare EPN 9-84
Cause: Release was due to an upset at Shell Chemical's GO-1 process unit.

Followup: Yes

Notes: No information given regarding remedial actions.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 163.0 pounds

Hydrocracker Unit
Cause: Release of benzene, hydrogen sulfide, hexane, and VOC's due to a relief valve release to the atmospheric vent.

Followup: Yes

Notes: No information given regarding remedial actions.


RCCU Elevated Flare (EPN 8-84)
Cause: Boiler 7 tripped, causing a swing in the 1300 pound steam header to the RCCU. Motiva's RCCU Wet Gas Compressor slowed considerably, causing venting of the suction to the RCCU elevated flare.

Followup: Yes

Nitrogen Oxide: 117.2 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 1,182.4 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 637.6 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 311.1 pounds
Particulate Matter: 22.1 pounds

Cause: The chemicals Benzene, H2S, Volatile organic compounds and Nitrogen Oxides were released after two compressors tripped due to an electrical breaker trip. no information given on amounts.

Followup: No

Notes: No remedial action was provided as to how the electrical breaker was fixed and release of chemicals were stopped. Verbal report only, no written report from the refinery.


Coker Flare
Cause: There was an operational upset with the wet gas compressor at the Coker Fractionator that resulted in the opening of the unit's pressure control valve. The opening of this valve allowed emissions to be sent to the Coker Flare thus allow several compound to be released into the air.

Followup: Yes

Notes: after immediate response the problem was troubleshooted. In the end, the high level increase in the overhead accumulator of the Coke Incinerator was corrected and operations returned to normal conditions


FLARE: West Ops Ground Flare [EPN 9-84]
Cause: Refinery letter states that "Shell Chemical's GO-1 Process unit experienced an upset when the feed to the unit furnaces was unexpectantly shut off. This process led to flaring at the Motiva's West Operations Ground Flare." SHARED INCIDENT WITH SHELL CHEMICAL PLANT. Separate report will be filed for Shell LP Norco Chemical Plant-East Site will be submitted. FLARE.

Followup: Yes

Notes: BRQ. Follow-up reports states that no reportable quantities or permit limits were exceeded. No Information Given regarding remedial actions. Refinery letter states that this information will be included in the Shell Chemical incident report.


FLARE: DHT Unit; SHELL OL-5 Flare (EPN 6-84)
Cause: Motiva DHT vent gas compressor tripped due to high liquid level in compressor's overhead accumulator (PV-1987). DHT experienced a rapid increase in feed rate DU-5 unit. Shared flaring incident with SHELL CHEMICAL LP.

Followup: Yes

Notes: RQ. Letter includes emissions calculations information. Took immediate corrective actions to return unit to normal feed conditions and restarted DHT vent compressor when flaring stopped. DHT operators were given safety training.
Nitrogen Oxide: 25.3 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 855.6 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 6.7 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 137.5 pounds
Particulate Matter: 4.8 pounds

FLARE: DU-5 Unit, waste gas compressor (k1883); East UE Flare (EPN 3-84)
Cause: incident involved a "process upset at Motiva's DU-5 Unit."release of hydrogen sulfide, Nitrogen Oxide, and Sulfur Dioxide. A waste gas compressor (K1883) tripped releasing the previously stated gases to flare. Shared flaring incident with SHELL CHEMICAL LP.

Followup: No

Notes: BRQ. Feed was reduced on DU-5 unit, instrument technician called in. False level reading that cased waste gas compressor to trip was determined to be caused by sediment build-up; sediment sampled to identify composition and cause.


FLARE: HCU relief valve(RV-1191); flow control valve (FC-0735); HCU Flare (4-84)
Cause: LDEQ report states that a release of propylene and propane due to an upset in the hydrocracker unit. The facility reported that a relief valve relieved to flare for approximately one minute.

Followup: Yes

Notes: BRQ. HCU relief valve was repaired and put back in service. No reportable quantities were exceeded as a result of this release.


FLARE: HCU elevated Flare (EPN-4-84)
Cause: "Motiva CR-2 recycle gas compressor (K-2057) tripped due to an expected high level in the CR-2 product separator vessel, which subsequently tripped the CR-2 process unit. A sudden increase in the level in the CR-2 product separator occurred while Motiva operators were placing exchangers (E-1243/44/45) back in service." This subsequently caused the HCU elevated Flare (EPN-4-84) to release naphtha-cyclohexane, ethylbenzene, napthalene,hydrotreated heavy naphtha, hexane, toluene, xylene. FLARE.

Followup: Yes

Notes: BRQ. The refinery letter states that no reportable quantities were exceeded during this incident.


FLARE - HCU Elevated Flare [EPN4-84], Relief Valve [RV1178 & RV1204]
Cause: Loss of electrical breaker powering most of the large motors in the hydrocracking unit caused two columns to "release to atmosphere;" RV-1178 on the Rectified Absorber Column for 30secs, RV-1204 on the Caustic Water Wash column "momentarily." FLARE.

Followup: Yes

Notes: BRQ. Refinery Follow-up Letter states "final calculations confirm that no reportable quantities were exceeded as a result of this release." Breaker loss discovered & repaired, operations returned to normal.


Hydrocracker Flare (FE-301)
Cause: On 10/6/11 at 1:42 am, while preparing the unit for a planned shutdown, the 2nd stage reactors of Motiva's Hydrocracking (HCU) Unit experienced an unexpected sixty-degree temperature rise resulting in a unit trip. During the time of the event, HCU Operators were following unit shutdown procedures in preparation of an upcoming turnaround. The sudden increase in temperature on the reactor bed was caused when oil was swept out of the oil passes on furnace F-43 to the reactors. Per procedure, oil must be de-inventoried from the associated piping, the furnace outlet temperatures rose rapidly. Consequently the instrument protective function (IPF) on the reaction system was activated for high temperature, and tripped the process unit as per design. Immediately upon activation of the trip mechanism, the unit was secured and stabilized. Shortly after stabilization, HCU shutdown activities continued following all operational and safety procedures.

Followup: Yes

Notes: For some reason this report contains an incident report for a previous incident from 2010 with the incident ID:128080 from Marathon's Refinery.


GO-1 Process Unit to West Ops Ground Flare (EPN 9-84)
Cause: The GO-1 Process Unit experienced a unit upset due to the over-pressuring of a column. This process upset led to flaring at Motiva's West Operations Ground Flare.

Followup: No

Notes: There were no remedial actions listed in the report.


9-84 (West Operations Ground Flare, FG-201)
Cause: On July 8, 2011 Shell Chemical's GO-1 Process Unit experienced a unit upset due to issues with re-boilers. This process upset led to flaring at the Motiva's West Operations Ground Flare (EPN 9-84).

Followup: No

Notes: The Go-1 Process unit was safely returned to normal operating conditions. Corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence will be addressed in a separate letter from Shell Chemical.
1,3-Butadiene: 140.2 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 1,079.3 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide: 198.4 pounds
Particulate Matter: 37.3 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 716.1 pounds
Benzene: 31.6 pounds
Toluene: 2.0 pounds
Hexane: 22.5 pounds

Flare: EPN 3-84
Cause: A leak occurred at HIC-84, along the downstream block valves, allowing nitrogen to enter the column causing a rapid pressure increase. The distilling unit upper crude column became overpressured, and PCV-195 opened the flare to relieve pressure in the column. EPN 3-84 Flare at Shell was used because the Motiva flare was upset and the pilot light was out. Original upset occurred at Motiva DU-5 Crude Unit with a notrogen leak into the Upper Crude Column.

Followup: No

Notes: The Shell report for the motiva release was dated May 5th, 2010 instead of 2011.


Coker Blowdown Vent
Cause: The facility reported the Coker unit was water quenching the coke material in Cooke Drum PV-918 and encountered a problem with an automated water quench sequence.

Followup: Yes

Notes: The facility took the problematic water quench sequence out of automatic mode and and manually closed off on the water control valve. Once the pressure was reduced to normal operation, the quench cycle was completed. The sequence has been adjusted, and additional orders have been given to the Coker operators so that this activity is consistent on each work shift.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 13.9 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 1.3 pounds


Motiva's Coking Unit
Cause: Release of coke dust to the atmosphere from de-coking activity at Motiva's Coker Unit while Motiva's Coker unit was in the process of drilling coke material out of Coke Drum PV-918 and encountered a 3lb pressure increase "hot spot" releasing coke dust to the atmosphere.

Followup: No

Notes: BRQ


HCU relief valve (RV-1178)
Cause: Release caused by a loss of separation in the High Pressure Separator which caused a relief valve to release. HCU relief valve (RV-1178) relieved to atmosphere due to a loss of product separation in PV-816 (HCU High Pressure Seperator). Rectified Absorber Column (PV-822) pressure built and was relieved by opening to the atmosphere.


Notes: BRQ. Letter is predated by several months and appears to be a form. Data is accurate to the event and signed on the 17th of february.



Cause: On December 30, 2012, Motiva's Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit (RCCU) experienced a process upset. The upset led to the opening of a pressure relief valve and flaring at the RCCU Flare.

Followup: No

Notes: The pressure transmitter that caused the problem last night has been repaired. Butene and Nitrogen Oxides are reported as being flared; quantities currently unknown. Motiva will release the quantities in their 60 day letter.


Olefins Flare (EPN 6-84)
Cause: On November 13, 2012 at 08:45 hours, Motiva's Diesel Hydrotreater (DHT) flared vent gas to Shell Chemical's OL-5 elevated flare. This flaring was due to the DHT vent gas compressor (K-5337) tripping as a result of a high liquid level in the stripper's overhead accumulator (PV-1987) and in the compressor's interstage knock out pot (PV-1988). In addition, the DHT's recycle compressor (K5339) tripped due to high level in the recycle gas compressor knock out pot (PV-2028).

Followup: Yes

Notes: No remedial actions were given. The flaring occurred at Shell Chemical East, but was caused by a compressor tripping at Motiva Enterprises Norco Refinery's Diesel Hydrotreater (DHT) unit. No reportable quantities were exceeded; however the permitted limits for sulfur dioxide were exceeded as a result of this release. Only gives the total VOCs released in the Permitted Source Emissions table; no breakdown per chemical even though they stated some of the released VOCs in their written notification (ethane, hydrogen sulfide, isobutane, methane, n-butane, and propane). SPOC states that 6000-7000 lbs per hour were sent to the elevated flare, and with a 99% flare efficiency it only resulted in 32 lbs of hydrocarbons being released per hour.
Carbon Monoxide: 11.4 pounds
Nitrogen Dioxide: 2.1 pounds
Particulate Matter: 0.4 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 149.7 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 4.7 pounds

FLARE: HCU flare (EPN-4-84)
Cause: The HIC on the low pressure separator (PV-817) was opened to the HCU flare (EPN-4-84) because an atmospheric relief valve (RV-4297) on the rectified absorber column (PV-822) at the Hydrocracking Unit relieved prior to its set point. Hydrocracker Flaring

Followup: No

Notes: RV-4297 was isolated and repaired. Flaring stopped once the unit was stabilized.


S3 Incinerator (EPN 2-90)
Cause: ON December 11, 2013, the hydrogen sulfide analyzer at Motiva's S3 Incinerator exceeded the NSPS Subpart J hydrogen sulfide twelve-hour rolling average of 250 ppm. Investigation findings suggest that on December 11, 2013 iron sulfide in the S3 sulfur pit was exposed to oxygen, resulting in pyrophoric iron oxidation that ignited a small smoldering fire in the vapor space of the S3 sulfur pit. The small fire generated sulfur dioxide that was pulled into the stack of the incinerator via the vapor line. The fire was extinguished when the steam to the eductor was reduced on December 14, 2013 at 1701 hours.

Followup: Yes

Notes: As a corrective action, Motive will monitor the sulfur dioxide analyzer and unit operation in order to troubleshoot any potential issues. Also during this same time, Motiva's RCCU Elevated Flare was experiencing elevated Hydrogen Sulfide concentrations from hydrocarbon flaring. The RCCU hydrocarbon flaring is the subject of a final follow-up letter issued February 3, 2014. Note: The contemporaneous incident with RCCU flaring is LDEQ incident 152855, the 60-day report of which does not claim there is a causal connection.


RCCU Flare (EPN 8-84)
Cause: On December 5, 2013, the three-hour rolling average for teh amount of hydrogen sulfide to the RCCU Flare exceeded its 162 ppm limit and teh 500 pound reportable quantity was exceeded on December 6, 2013 at 15:00 hours. The hydrogen sulfide to the RCCU FLare exceeded teh monitoring capabilities of teh flare's hydrogen sulfide analyzer. As a result, Operations monitored the hydrogen sulfide concentrations by sampling the flare header while trying to identify the source/sources of the elevated hydrogen sulfide. On December 6, 2013 it was discovered that the dry gas specific gravity analyzer, AT-3812 was incorrectly routed to the flare. By correcting this line up, the hydrogen sulfide in the flare header was reduced and no further hydrogen sulfide reportable quantities were exceeded as a result of this incident.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Immediately, Operations began a search for the source of hydrogen sulfide routing to the flare. Operations found that the sample return from the dry gas specific gravity analyzer, AT-3812, was incorrectly routed to the flare. On December 6, this stream was rerouted to the RCCU wet gas compressor. Operations flushed the RCCU Elevated flare knock drum and the maintenance drop out drum (which were suspected to be contaminated with hydrogen sulfide as a result of the recent shutdown activities). Unit rate increases were delayed and unit feed rates were maintained during the duration of this incident. To prevent re-occurrence of this incident, routing AI3812 correctly has been included in a Job Aid that Operations developed for troubleshooting situations in which there are high hydrogen sulfide concentrations at the RCCU Flare. Report states that releases of sulfur dioxide exceeded Reportable Quantity only on December 5 and 6. Sulfur Dioxide also exceeded reportable quantity limits on the December 7.
Hydrogen Sulfide: 1,723.9 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 592.1 pounds
NOx: 108.8 pounds
Particulate Matter: 20.5 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 835.4 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 64.6 pounds

Hydrocracker Flare (EPN 4-84)
Cause: On January 26, 2013 at 17:15 hours, the first stage of the Hydrocracking Unit (HCU) shutdown. This shutdown was due to the occurrence of a ground fault on one of the main electrical feeders to the charge pump at the first stage of the HCU. The loss of the first stage charge pump resulted in the flaring of excess hydrogen that would normally be consumed by the process. Operations was able to maintain the operation of the second stage of the HCU.

Followup: No

Notes: Final observations and calculations confirm that no permit limits and no reportable quantities (RQ's) were exceeded during this event.


RWTS Emergency Spillway Structure
Cause: On 6/15/2014, Motiva Norco experience a rainfall event. At the time, the site was was working to control pH swings in the Refinery Wastewater Treatment System (RWTS). Due to the pH upset conditions in the Aeration Basin of the RWTS, the site shut down Outfall 002 pumps to the river to prevent polluting the river with pH upsets. As a result of the backup of wastewater and the addition of stormwater the RWTS reached maximum capacity levels. In accordance with their LPDES permit application, the RWTS emergency spillway structure was opened to prevent flooding of the refinery and damage to the retaining levee. The water was discharged to Engineer's Canal and then to Lake Ponchartrain.

Followup: No

Notes: Monitoring was conducted through sample collection and analysis of discharged water and pH monitoring of the water leaving the spillway to ensure the water leaving the site remained between pH 6.0 and 9.0. Report indicates that Motiva is investigating the cause of the initial pH upset and will submit a follow up report. This report has not been received.