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Shell Chemical East (26336), Norco

Causal Factor: Power Failure

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

Cause: On December 6, 2012, Shell Chemical's GO-1 flared at the GO-1 Elevated Flare (EPN 1-90). The flaring was a result of an unexpected loss of power due to the trip of an Entergy breaker supplying the GO-1 unit. The GO-1 Unit trip caused a release to the atmosphere from the GO-1 Propylene Splitter Column.

Followup: Yes

Notes: GO-1 operations took the necessary steps to minimize flaring and safely return the unit to normal operating conditions and the flaring stopped. Data gathering to perform calculations and investigation are ongoing. Shell provided an amended final follow up notification on June 27, 2013. Reportable quantities for VOCs were exceeded. On December 9, 2012 the reportable quantities for Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxide, Particulate Matter, and 1,3-Butadiene were exceeded. On December 8, 2012 reportable quantities for particulate matter were exceeded. On a report dated June 27, 2013, the emissions of propylene and propane were amended.
1,3-Butadiene: 2,737.4 pounds
Benzene: 585.9 pounds

Nitrogen Oxide: 16,325.9 pounds
Propylene: 34,384.0 pounds
Sulfur Dioxide: 1,249.5 pounds
Propane: 2,588.0 pounds
Xylene: 18.4 pounds
Toluene: 40.9 pounds
Hexane: 733.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 40,725.3 pounds
Particulate Matter: 28,811.0 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 88,833.9 pounds
Styrene: 8.2 pounds

OL-5 Ground and Elevated Flares
Cause: On October 11, 2013, Shell Chemical's OL-5 Process Unit experienced an unexpected power failure which resulted in the shutdown of several pumps in the OL-5 Process Unit leading to a process upset and flaring at the OL-5 Ground Flare and OL-5 Elevated Flare. Several breakers in the main central control room were lost. The transformer that supplies power to these breakers tripped unexpectedly. This resulted in the shutdown of several pumps in the OL-5 Process Unit. Most of the pumps that shutdown had back-up spare pumps available and the spare pumps either automatically started or operations manually started them. The ethylene product pump did not have a back-up spare pump available. OL-5 was unable to send ethylene product to the downstream pipeline. This resulted in an inability to remove ethylene product from OL-5's C2 Splitter column and the pressure of the C2 Splitter increased. Elevated pressure in the C2 Splitter column was controlled by relieving to the OL-5 Ground Flare and OL-5 Elevated Flare.

Followup: Yes

Notes: To minimize impacts, spared pumps automatically started and operations started spare pumps manually that do not auto start. After securing and stabilizing the unit, OL-5 operations contacted electrical engineering and maintenance to repair the tripped transformer. On the evening of October 11, 2013, repairs to the transformer were completed, the transformer was placed back in service and flaring stopped. It has been determined that there are not any measures that could be taken to prevent the recurrence of this incident or a similar incident. Report states that all released materials were dispersed naturally in the atmosphere from the OL5 Ground and OL5 Elevated flare stacks. Shell Chemical confirmed that reportable quantity for Highly Reactive Organic Compounds (ethylene and propylene) was exceeded. The maximum permitted limits were exceeded for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds.
Carbon Monoxide: 5,873.6 pounds
Nitrogen Oxide: 1,079.5 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 3,115.3 pounds
Particulate Matter: 3,016.2 pounds
Highly Reactive Volatile Organic Compounds (HRVOCs): 1,460.0 pounds