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Shell Chemical East (26336), Norco

Causal Factor: Weather

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

Cause: State police officer called Shell chemical and found out that the bad weather that passed through Norco caused their CO heater to shut down. Once this happened Shell Chemical had to shut down units including the PGC Compressor for the OL-5 unit, because without the CO heater, there was not enough steam to operate the refinery. Shell Chemical has not confirmed definitely what cause the CO heater to shut down, but they believe either lighting struck the heater, or a temperature change caused problems.

Followup: No

Notes: This was a citizen complaint concerning black smoke coming off of a flare located in Norco, La. The facility has not reported any quantities being exceeded.


BD5 Unit
Cause: On 2/6/14, a vent heater from Shell Chemical's Butadiene 5 (BD5) Unit to the OL5 process gas compressor (PGC) unexpectedly froze during inclement weather, resulting in flaring at the OL5 ground flare. Once the header thawed, the unit was safely returned to normal operating conditions on 2/7/14, and the flaring stopped.

Followup: Yes

Notes: To minimize additional unit upset conditions and impacts, the vent stream from BD5 was routed to the flare until the header thawed. Once thawed, the vent stream was returned to its normal routing and BD5 was safely returned to normal operating conditions. To prevent the reoccurrence of this incident, the use of heat tracing and the development of a procedure to mitigate the frozen header are being evaluated. Both the reportable quantity and permit limit for 1,3 butadiene were exceeded.
1,3-Butadiene: 58.0 pounds
Carbon Monoxide: 197.0 pounds
NOx: 36.0 pounds
Particulate Matter: 7.0 pounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): 126.0 pounds