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Motiva Enterprises (1406), Norco

Causal Factor: Seal or Gasket

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

hydrocracker unit, HCU Flare (EPN #4-84)
Cause: A gasket on compressor K 1929's seal oil pot gauge glass was leaking, causing a loss of seal Oil level. Loss of level caused hydrocracker unit to trip out and require a shut down.

Followup: No

Notes: Remedial actions: Site supervisor was notified, unit was secured per procedures for shutdown. Gauge glass was inspected and it was found that the Jerguson valves did not contain ball checks; the ball checks were replaced.
Sulfur Dioxide: 66.4 pounds
n-Hexane: 5.5 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 88.0 pounds

Sanitary sewer discharge line
Cause: A leak developed on the sanitary sewer discharge line serving the Central Maintenance Shop due to the failure of the connecting nipple between the discharge piping and the sewer drain line. The sanitary sewage was routed to the refinery wastewater treatment system and subsequently discharged through LPDES Outfall 002, bypassing a portion of the treatment process.

Followup: Yes

Notes: A vacuum truck was stationed at the location to collect additional sanitary sewage which might be released during repair operations. Repairs to the line were completed and flow returned to normal on February 2, 2005.


sealing joint leak at sewer at berth 1 header
Cause: There was failure at the sealing joint a leak occurred to release non-contact steam water. This water which normally flows to the wastewater treatment facility was leaked onto the ground.

Followup: No

Notes: The sealing joint was repaired. Verbal report only, no report from the refinery.


water boot
Cause: There was a small leak that formed on the steam condensate water boot at the wharf's structure. This leak was caused by sealing joint material that failed on the steam condensate water boot. As a result of this leak, virgin steam condensate was discharged.

Followup: Yes

Notes: spill containment was deployed and the bypass was stopped after the containment was in place. There was no evidence of oil sheen on the released steam condensate. A metal jacket was installed to re-seal the joint on the water boot


seal leak from pump 5658
Cause: There was a seal leak on pump P-5658. This leak caused approximately 2 barrels of #6 oil to be released and enter a storm water ditch. Ground water was affected by the leak of oil from this pump.

Followup: No

Notes: The spill was contained by forming a dike and boom in the storm water ditch, and then using a vacuum truck to clean up the oil. As reported, the oil did not leave the facility property. There are conflicting statements as to what was released. The incident report states 2 barrels released from #6 oil, while another report states 2 barrels released from #6 oil residue.
#6 Oil: 84.0 gallons

gasket of filter pot between tank F-515 and Kenner line
Cause: Turbulence caused by moving gasoline from tank F-515 to the Kenner pipeline, caused the transfer line to hammer leading to a leak in the head gasket of a finished gasoline filter pot.

Followup: No

Notes: The filter pot was immediately isolated, and maintenance was called out to make repairs. The leak was contained to the concrete pad underneath the filter pot. Under investigation, final follow up report is promised. No follow-up report included in file. No LDEQ report. Refinery letter only.


UTLX 950070
Cause: The root cause of the release was faulty rail car equipment (rail car UTLX 950070). The gasket on the seat of the relief valve had deteriorated, resulting in a leak. 1,3 Butadiene was released.

Followup: No

Notes: Firewater was applied to the leaking car to suppress the vapors. The area surrounding the rail car was sampled for 1,3butadiene and hot zone was established. 5h llm after leak, The gasket on the seat of the relief valve was replaced reducing the leak by 99%. 11h and 49m later it was tightened stopping the leak. To confirm there was no more leaks, rail car UTLX 950070 was soap tested. The material was transferred out of the leaking rail car and off site. Measures were take with the rail scheduler to minimize the time that rail cars will sit on site without being shipped. No LDEQ report. Refinery letter only.
1,3-Butadiene: 49.0 pounds

DEA overhead stripper column flange at sulfur plant S-3
Cause: On 11/22/11 at 3:30 pm, maintenance personnel were in the process of replacing carbon steel bolts with stainless steel on E-6402. After changing seven of the eight bolts on the flange, a leak developed from the flange. The material released was sour water containing sulfur dioxide, and appeared to be coming from a failed gasket. Leak was on the inlet fans of the DEA stripper at sulfur plant S-3

Followup: Yes

Notes: The maintenance personnel immediately stopped work due to the safety hazard presented by the leak . A plan was developed to safely complete the repair, which was carried out the following day on 11/23/11. Final calculations confirm that no reportable quantities were exceeded during this event.


inlet to DEA overhead fan E-6402 in sulfur plant S-3
Cause: On 11/15/11 at 2:00 am while performing unit sensory rounds in Sulfur Plant S-3, a Motiva operator discovered a small leak along a flange at the inlet to DEA overhead fan E-6402. The material released was sour water contained hydrogen sulfide and could be observed "bubbling" along the top of the gasket and dripping down the piping. The operator immediately notified his supervision and the Site Supervisor was contacted. An Emergency Work Order was created and Pressure Equipment Inspectors and pipefitters were dispatched to determine the condition of the equipment and to conduct repairs. The bolts were tightened on the flange and the leak stopped. Operations personnel continued to monitor the flange and no further leakage was observed.

Followup: Yes

Notes: LDEQ conducted an onsite inspected the morning of 11/15/11. Offsite air monitoring along the perimeter of the facility showed no elevated levels of H2S in the air.


8-84 RCCU Elevated flare
GO-1 Elevated Flare
Cause: On 9/26/11, Motiva's RCCU Process Unit identified smoke exiting the insulation on the process unit's reactor stripper overhead piping, indicating a leak of hydrocarbon. Consequently, the RCCU process unit had to divert feed causing flaring to occur at the RCCU Flare (EPN 8-89). The process unit safely diverted feed and continued to maintain catalyst circulation in order to avoid additional flaring. All operational and safety procedures were following at this time. Immediately after stabilizing the unit, insulation was removed from the overhead piping to determine the source of the leak. the leak was identified as a set of flanges on the reactor stripper overhead piping. Attempts were made to re-torque the flanges and stop the leak. However, the re-torquing efforts were unsuccessful and a decision was made to fabricate and install a blade clamp to permanently stop the leak. As of 9/28/11, the blade clamp was installed and the leak on the overhead piping had stopped. The RCCU had been restarted following all operational and safety procedures and remained at steady operation. the RGHT had not been restarted at that time. On 9/26/11 Motiva Enterprises LLC RCCU unit was shut down to do some maintenance work. Flaring occurred at the GO-1 Elevated Flare (EPN 9-84) as a result of the restart of Motiva's RCCU Unit. Untreated dry gas from the RCCU is flared during the restart of the RCCU at the GO-1 Elevated flare before the dry gas can be introduced to GO-1 as a feed.

Followup: Yes

Notes: The RCCU diverted feed and continued to maintain catalyst circulation in order to avoid additional flaring and stabilize the unit. Operations worked to identify the source of the leak and made preparations for repair. The flanges associated with the leak source were re-torqued in an attempt to stop the leak. A box clamp was fabricated and installed to encapsulate and stop the leak. Maximum lb/hr limits were exceeded for sulfur dioxide and VOC's, because the incident release was spread out across close to 3 days no reportable quantities were exceeded. Two follow up letters were received.
Carbon Monoxide: 2,874.5 pounds
Nitric Oxide: 528.3 pounds
Particulate Matter: 99.4 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 91.2 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 1,396.2 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 4,909.8 pounds
Nitric Oxide: 902.3 pounds
Particulate Matter: 169.9 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 29,547.2 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 1,328.6 pounds
Hexane: 123.3 pounds

Ball valve on Butadiene Storage Tank
Cause: At 0635 on March 17, 2011 Motiva operations was notified that there was an odor of 1,3 butadiene coming from the Butadiene Propylene Storage (BPS) area. Upon investigating, operations found that the odor was coming from the sump at the south end of the BPS area. Operations observed condensation downstream of a 3/4" isolation gate valve on the dewatering piping in the vicinity. Additionally, a ball valve downstream of the 3/4" gate valve was found to be closed past the fully closed indication. Operations checked the temperature of the piping with a temperature gun and noted a 10 deg F difference across the 3/4" gate valve indicating a slight leak from the valve.

Followup: No

Notes: At 1011 on March 17, 2011, Motiva operations used a wrench to tighten the 3/4" gate. The ball valve was also moved back to the fully closed position and the bent stop on this valve was corrected. After completing these repairs, the temperature of the piping downstream of the gate valve increased and the condensation stopped indicating that the repair was successful and the leak stopped.


Gasket (Exchanger E11B)
Cause: LDEQ states that a gasket leak occurred on an exchanger, releasing 550 lbs. of hydrogen gas per day.

Followup: No

Notes: BRQ. Leak was contained after five days. LDEQ included. No Refinery Letter.
Hydrogen: 2,750.0 pounds

Isolation valves on the Finished Butadiene pipeline from sphere S-416 to the Finished Butadiene metering skid
Cause: At 11:40 on November 9, 2012 Logistics operations was inventorying the Finished Butadiene pipeline from sphere S-416 to the Finished Butadiene metering skid. The operator noticed that the two isolation valves were leaking vapor from the upper portion of the valves. No liquid or ice formation occurred as a result of the leak.

Followup: Yes

Notes: The system was isolated and depressured. Nitrogen was introduced and the piping was decontaminated. The Butadiene leak stopped at 13:00 hours on November 9, 2012. The valves were rebuilt and re installed. The system was pressure tested then returned to full service on November 11, 2012. No mention of any pounds or gallons.


Valve packing on 10" Finished BD wharf/Tank Car loading line
Cause: At 04:35 on October 22, 2012 Motiva BPS Operators discovered the inlet block valve to RV-2960 iced over during his surveillance rounds. Motiva Site Supervisor was notified, the EST group was activated and the area was isolated. The 3/4" thermal RV protects a 10" Finished BD wharf/Tank Car loading line. The line was under 45 psig and not being used to load BD at this time. The source of the leak was the valve packing.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Once the line was depressured to 25 psig, the response team, under SCBA, used fire water to remove the ice and determine the exact source of the leak. The valve packing was tightened, and the leak was stopped at 07:22. No reportable quantities were exceeded. No mention of any pounds or gallons.


Flange on 3" takeoff of the 10" Crude Booster line
Cause: The leak was a result of a small leak in a gasket in the flange of the crude booster line to the DU-5 Process Unit.

Followup: No

Notes: Motiva operations found a leaking flange on a 3" takeoff of the 10" Crude Booster line used to supply crude to DU-5 Operations Unit. The leak was identified after starting the crude pumps. Approximately 30 gallons of crude oil leaked to the ground. This amount is below reportable quantity. Immediately upon discovery, operations shutdown the crude pumps and isolated the 10" Crude Booster line. Repairs to the line and cleanup of the leaked crude have been completed. SPOC report states 1 bbl of crude oil released.
Crude Oil: 30.0 gallons

RCCU Elevated Flare
Cause: On December 23, 2013, the Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit (RCCU) Elevated Flare exceeded its 162 ppm three-hour rolling average limit for hydrogen sulfide. The monitoring capabilities of the hydrogen sulfide analyzer at the RCCU Elevated Flare were exceeded as the hydrogen sulfide to the flare continued to increase. Several contributing factors were identified. One of these factors was that the cold weather was affecting some of the valve bodies by allowing small quantities of H2S to leak through a closed valve during lower ambient temperatures. In addition, it was found that the RCCU flare knock out drum and the maintenance drop out drum were contaminated with H2S as a result of recent shutdown activities. This event did not result in an emergency condition. There were no fatalities, injuries, or road closures.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Immediately, Operations began a systematic search for the sources of H2S routed to the flare. This search identifies all potential H2S intrusion points with the RCCU and RGHT Units, and prioritized those most likely contributing to the elevated H2S in the Flare system. Flushes the RCCU Elevated flare knock out drum and the maintenance drop out drum. Upgraded valves HV4346 a IV one-piece metal seats to class VI three-piece metal Teflon seats. Unit rate increases were delayed and unit feed rates were maintained during the duration of the incident. To prevent recurrences, the refinery will (1) evaluate the need to upgrade/replace additional RV and HIC valves that are routed to the RCCU Elevated Flare header in order to prevent leakage during cold weather; and (2) evaluate the need to apply weather shields and/or steam lances to valves affect by cold weather. The report does not mention when the refinery will implement these preventative measures.

Carbon Monoxide: 10.1 pounds
Nitric Oxide: 1.9 pounds
Particulate Matter: 0.4 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 2.1 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 0.9 pounds

Flange leak on caustic line
Cause: On December 16, 2013, a flange leak was discovered on a caustic line that supplies several units across the Norco complex. Immediately the caustic transfer was stopped and the leak slowed down. One barrel of caustic was estimated to be released within the Norco complex property.

Followup: No

Notes: A gasket was replaced on the flange and the pipeline was placed back into service without any additional issue. The soil and gravel in the area were remediated. Final observations and calculations confirm that no permit limits and no reportable quantities were exceeded during the event.


Pump seal
Cause: On May 29, operations personnel discovered a pump seal was leaking.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Operations stopped and isolated the pump to reduce material escaping from containment. Foam was placed on top of the spill to reduce vapors. The material was removed from containment by vacuum truck. To prevent recurrence, the mechanical department is assessing the pump to provide recommendations for changes to the seal to prevent reoccurrences. Recommendations will be implemented as appropriate. The LDEQ report mentions that this incident report number (148925) is linked to incident numbers 149187, 149203, and 149223.
Oil: 125.6 gallons


pump seal
Cause: On May 29, 2013, a pump seal leak was discovered.

Followup: No

Notes: Immediately the pump was secured, leak stopped, spill cleanup and pump repairs started. The event did not result in an emergency condition but the neighborhood was notified. A citizen complaint was submitted. Citizen complained of a chemical smell for 3-4 days. Another complained of a bad small and a burning sensation in the eyes. Another described a strong petroleum odor in the air around the neighborhood. A fourth citizen complained of a strong odor that caused choking and gagging, and stated that the entire family was sick. The LDEQ report mentions that this incident is also linked with incident numbers 148925, 149193, 149203, and 149223.
Naphtha: 125.6 gallons


charge pump, Hydrocracking Unit
Cause: Motiva's Hydrocracking Unit (HCU) flared process gas at the HCU Elevated Flare (FE 301) due to the partial shutdown of the HCU. A seal leak was discovered on the charge pump on the second stage of the HCU. Due to the location of the leak, the unit had to partially shut down to complete repairs. Flaring of hydrogen will continue intermittently to stabilize the remaining operating equipment. Flaring ceased once the charge pump was repaired and the unit returned to stable operating conditions. Flaring occurred on June 1 (367 minutes) and June 7 (1069 minutes).

Followup: Yes

Notes: After the unit was shut down and secured, maintenance and engineering investigated and identified that a seal failure occurred. A repair plan was promptly developed and executed. Due to this incident being a repeat issue in a short period of time, Motiva chartered a full investigation. Findings from this investigation resulted in the installation of additional check valves to control pressure swings and to help manage the integrity of pump seals.
Benzene: 1.7 pounds
Ethane: 36.7 pounds
Hydrogen: 66.8 pounds
Isobutane: 32.6 pounds
Isopentane: 23.8 pounds
Methane: 70.1 pounds
Nitrogen: 2.0 pounds
n-Butane: 27.1 pounds
Hexane: 10.9 pounds
n-Pentane: 4.6 pounds
Propylene: 0.2 pounds
Propane: 46.7 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 324.9 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide: 1.7 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 702.6 pounds
NOx: 129.1 pounds
Particulate Matter: 24.3 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 119.2 pounds

Propylene Pipeline Pump 2548
Cause: On 5/16/2014, operations personnel in Motiva Enterprises' Logistics area discovered a leak to the atmosphere from a filter pot gasket on a propylene pipeline pump 2548. The pump was immediately shutdown, blocked in and secured stopping the leak.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Pump was immediately shutdown, blocked in, and secured stopping the leak. The pump was repaired and returned to service on 5/22/2014. Neither report include release amount or whether the release was below reportable quantities.
No information given

Alkylation Unit
Cause: On 4/25/2014 the operators at Motiva's Alkylation Unit discovered the check valve of a transfer pump leaking sulfuric acid into the secondary containment.

Followup: Yes

Notes: The pump was immediately shut down to stop the leak.


4-84 Hydrocracker Flare (Fe-301)
Cause: On 3/12/2014 Motiva's Hydrocracking Unit (HCU) flared process gas at the HCU Elevated Flare (FE 301) due to the partial shutdown of the HCU. An unexpected seal leak was discovered on the charge pump on the second stage of the HCU. Due to the location of the leak, the unit had to partially shut down to complete repairs. Flaring continued intermittently to stabilize the remaining operating equipment. On 3/29/14 the Hydrocracker Unit began a startup of the unit. Flaring ceased once the charge pump was repaired and the unit restarted. Emitted 0.32 pounds more of Benzene than permitted for.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Immediately after the unit was safely shut down, the problem was investigated and identified. To prevent the reoccurrence of the incident, a new seal was installed on 3/24/14. The seal oil system was checked prior to start up for deficiencies and none were found.
Carbon Monoxide: 6,874.6 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide: 1,263.4 pounds
Particulate Matter: 237.8 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 34.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 3,337.3 pounds
Hexane: 11.9 pounds
Benzene: 0.6 pounds