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Valero (1238), Meraux

Causal Factor: Under Investigation

LDEQ Accident Number
Accident Date
Point Source(s) Notes Amount of Release
No LDEQ Reported

Tank 200-2
Cause: under investigation some evidence suggests that it was related to a lightning strike fire on 7/3/2006.

Followup: Yes

Notes: SERC incident # 06-04245. gasoline leaked onto the external floating roof of Tank 200-2


Gasoline Tank 200-1
Cause: After heavy rainfall, personnel found gasoline accumulated on the external floating roof of Gasoline Tank 200-1. Root cause is under investigation.

Followup: No

Notes: RQ exceeded. Tanks was isolated and a fire fighting foam was applied to prevent ignition. The discharge was removed from the tank.
Volatile Organic Compounds: 31,274.0 pounds
Benzene: 616.0 pounds

Platformer Charge Heater (#17-72a, b, c)
Cause: Emergency Notification Occurrence forms states that liquid inadvertently entered the refinery fuel gas system, causing poor combustion in the heater and resulting in smoke emissions.

Followup: No

Notes: BRQ. Refinery letter states that no reportable quantities were exceeded, but also describes the release as an "unquantifiable amount of particulate matter." The heater was shut down. Automated level controls were installed on Area 2 fuel drum to expedite the removal of excess liquids from that vessel.


#3 SRU Incinerator stack
Cause: On December 14th Valero experienced excess emissions of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide at the #3 SRU Incinerator (EPN #5-00) due to automatic safety shutdown of the #3 SRU. Varying rates of emissions were released at the #3 SRU Incinerator stack while the #3 Tail Gas Treater (TGT) was bypassed as Valero worked to restart the unit.

Followup: No

Notes: Valero immediately enacted its Sulfur Shredding Plan to reduce the amount of acid gas routed to the unit, thereby reducing the emissions to the incinerator. The wind was from the NE at 5-10 mph during the incident. No allegations of impact were received from neighbors in the surrounding community. The episode occurred from approximately 12:45 pm until 6:40 pm on 12/14/11 and from 9:00 pm until 6:20 am on 12/15/11. Valero followed its operating procedures as described in MACT UUU Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction Plan in securing and restarting the unit.
Sulfur Dioxide: 3,100.0 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide: 35.0 pounds

North Flare
Cause: Valero reported excess emissions of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide at the North Flare during a start up of the Reformer unit. Valero continuously measures SO2 and H2S emissions at the North Flare. After 15 hours of Hydrogen flaring, the indicated sulfure content began to rise in an erratic, saw-toothed trend that was inconsistent with process conditions. Routine grad sample monitoring of this Hydrogen confirmed it to be essentially sulfur free. Within 1 hour of the end of Hydrogen flaring, the Total Sulfur readings returned to normal and the erratic saw-toothed trend stopped. Valero has evaluated the plant conditions and data recorded during this event and has concluded that the indicated Total Sulfure concentration was in error for the last 7 hours of flaring. Valero does not know what caused the erroneous readings, but the erratic, saw-toothed pattern trend was similar to previous episodes when the sample lines have become plugged with liquids. Valero will continue to investigate this event and work to identify and correct the cause of the erroneous readings.

Followup: No

Notes: 40 pounds of sulfur dioxide and less than 1 pound of hydrogen sulfide were released at the North Flare. Valero will work with the manufacturer to determine the cause of the Total Sulfur Analyzer malfunction and any possible corrective actions.
Sulfur Dioxide: 40.0 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide: 1.0 pounds

North Flare
Cause: An unplanned shutdown and subsequent startup of the Hydrocracker Unit (HCU) occurred. The HCU charge pump tripped after its lube oil pump failed. Possible causes offered by Valero, as of 06/15/12, include a lightning strike and an equipment malfunction. The cause is under investigation at this point, and the refinery promised a follow up letter with the results of the investigation.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Per written procedures, the refinery shut down and started up the Hydrocracker Unit.
Hydrogen Sulfide: 49.0 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 4,500.0 pounds

Floor of Tank 80-4
Cause: Oil was found to have leaked out of the floor of Tank 80-4. The cause of the leak is under investigation, as of 03/13/12.

Followup: Yes

Notes: The leak was secured, and the contents of the tank were transferred to another tank. The refinery stated that the tank would be repaired. Soil with signs of visible contamination was recovered and will be disposed of, according to pending data.
Gas Oil: 42.0 gallons


Cause: On August 14, 2013, while assessing conditions following a heavy rainstorm, Valero personnel discovered a light sheen on the storm water within a drainage ditch located along the south side of St. Bernard Highway. Cause may be an underground pipe.

Followup: No

Notes: Adsorbent boom was laid in the ditch and a vacuum truck was dispatched to remove as much of the sheen from the water surface as possible. The mixture picked up by the vacuum truck was transferred to the refinery for separation and treatment. There were no known leaks or spills in the area during this period. Subsequent inspections, conducted during both dry and wet weather conditions, revealed no new sheen in the ditch. It is unknown whether the sheen originated from Valero property, other nearby properties, or the adjacent highway. Another letter from Valero was sent on August 21, 2013 wishing to rescind the notification for the incident due to none of the reporting criteria of LAC 33:I. 3915-3939 are applicable to this case.
Oil: 0.1 gallons

KOH Treater Pressure Safety Valve, Benzene Reduction Unit
Cause: Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)was being transferred to a crude KOH treater from a pressure vessel. The resulting pressure increase at the KOH Treater caused a pressure safety valve (PSV) to open and the LPG was directed to the north flare. The flow of LPG to the flare caused a larger than normal flare to occur, whether or not the PSV should have opened is still under investigation. During this same period and into 6/13/13 the Benzene Reduction Unit (BRU) was re-starting after being shut down for several weeks. The process also supplied gas to the north flare.

Followup: No

Notes: Investigation prompted by citizen complaint.

No LDEQ Reported

North Flare
Cause: On May 3, 2013 starting at approximately 02;00, Valero experienced excess emissions of Sulfur Dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfide at the North Flare during startup of the Gas Oil Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater Unit (HCU) following a planned maintenance outage and catalyst replacement. Because the catalyst was new, this particular startup include a procedure for sulfiding the catalyst prior to resuming normal operations. Sulfiding consists of circulating the feed in the reactors with an additive chemical to produce H2S, which is then maintained at a high concentration in the Recycle Gas for a period of time to allow the sulfides to deposit on the catalyst. Based on an initial assessment of the available data, excess emissions during the HCU startup are associated with the following: 1. The pressure safety valve (PSV) on the fractionator tower opened to flare. 2. The PSV on the Cold Separator was found to be leaking by the flare. 3. The Recycle Gas Compressor tripped and activated an automatic unit depressurization to flare. 4. The PSV on the Cold Separator opened to the flare. 5. The PSV on the Fractionator Tower opened to flare a second time. This incident is currently under investigation and Valero will submit additional information upon completion.

Followup: No

Notes: While the PDF of the attached document bears the LDEQ # 147895, this number is also linked to an incident of a different date (April 5, 2013). Valero reduced pressure to reseat PSV's that had lifted and attempted to stop the leakage on the Cold Separator PSV. Sulfur dioxide estimated at 3131 pounds and hydrogen sulfide estimated at 34 pounds were released during the "start up period" 5/3 02:00 to 5/4/13 22:00. Sulfur dioxide emissions associated with the leaking Cold Separator PSV have continued at approximately 20-30 pounds/hour. As of 08:00 on 5/10/13, an additional 3932 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 43 pounds of hydrogen sulfide are estimated to have been released.
Sulfur Dioxide: 7,063.0 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide: 77.0 pounds

None Reported
Cause: Letter is a followup for an unidentified air event occurring on 4/21/14. LABB researcher hypothesizes that LDEQ incident #155422 and #155425 are both related to this followup letter. However, a search of the EDMS database failed to yield information about LDEQ #155371. Thus, we are missing the LDEQ report and the documentation of verbal notification to the state police. Incident is described as a BRU Heater Detonation.

Followup: No


#2, #3 SRU
Cause: On February 10, 2014 Valero Refining-Meraux experienced excess emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) from all in-service refinery heaters and boilers, and the #3 Sulfur Recovery Unit (SRU) Incinerator Stack and the North Flare due to an unexpected shutdown of the #3 SRU. Later the #2 SRU tripped offline as well, resulting in excess emissions from that unit. The #3 and #2 SRUs generated excess emissions due to these shutdowns and the subsequent start ups. Additionally, the Amine units became saturated with H2S and were no longer capable of removing H2S from gaseous refinery process streams. Increased H2S concentrations in the refinery fuel gas and hydrotreater recycle gas systems resulted in excess emissions in the refinery's heater and boilers, and in the North Flare.

Followup: No

Notes: There seems to be a major equipment malfunction that occurred causing the incident however there is no mention of the cause or how it will be prevented in the future. All emissions point sources involved in the accident: No 1 Crude Heather, NTH Charge Heather, NHT Debut Reboiler, NHT Depent Reboiler, Platformer Charge Heater, Platformer Debut Reboiler, Vacuum Heaters, No 2 Alky Reboiler, Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater/Fractionator Charge Heaters, Boiler B-5, Boiler B-6, North Flare Stack, SRU #2 Incinerator, SRU #3 Incinerator
Sulfur Dioxide: 23,734.0 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide: 72.0 pounds