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Motiva Enterprises (1406), Norco

Releases of Butadiene

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

Wastewater treatment facility
General facility
Refinery Wastewater Treatment System (RWTS), LPDES Outfall 006;
Cause: Unanticipated bypasses of wastewater treatment facilities occurred due to Hurricane Katrina.

Followup: Yes


RCCU Flare (EPN #8-84), West Operations Ground Flare (WOGF- EPN 9-84)
Cause: "Maintenance was turning a blind when contents of the line began spraying from the line." Flaring occurred at the RCCU flare following the event during the RCCU unit startup. Additional downstream flaring occurred at the Shell Chemical LP GO-1 elevated flare and the Motiva West Operations Ground Flare.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Remedial actions: Vacuum trucks were deployed in attempt to capture the oil in the RCCU drainage system. Feed was immediately diverted from the unit. Flow into the main fractionator column was minimized while isolations were being made to the slurry circulation system. VSERT was activated to make positive isolation of the leak. Concerning recurrence prevention, Motiva's incident investigations group is investigation the incident and recommendations will be addressed.

West Ops Ground Flare (EPN #9-84)
Cause: An overhead analyzer and a differential pressure meter that normally monitor and control the propylene producing column were out of service for maintenance and inspection. Without these two indicators operations could not effectively tell if the column was operating properly. The production of unspecified product led to flaring. Flaring by GO-1 at Motiva's West Operations Ground Flare occurred due to Shell Chemical's GO-1 operations being asked to discontinue sending material to OL-5 until the process was back in control.

Followup: No

Notes: Called in by telephone on 07/25/2005 by Shell Chemical. Remedial actions: Material was flared at the West Ops Ground flare. Motiva maintains they were not in control of the incident and that a follow up letter was sent by Shell Chemical.
17.0 pounds

Coker, HCU, West Op Ground flares
Cause: Power failures due to weather (Tropical Storm Cindy) caused various releases from Motiva sources; led to total loss of electrical instrument air compressors and the loss of several steam boilers that caused the shutdown of the HCU and RCCU process units. A voltage sag caused the Coker processor to shut down which resulted in a flaring event.

Followup: No

Notes: Motiva claims that this was not preventable because of the unforeseeable weather conditions.
26.0 pounds

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 - Shell chemical, LP West Operations Elevated Flare
Cause: The crude butadiene import drum PV-2170 overfilled while crude butadiene was being imported at the facility's wharf. The flare knock out drum PV-191 filled with crude butadiene resulting in flaring from Shell Chemical West Operations Elevated Flare. FLARE.

Followup: No

Notes: Operations immediately stopped the crude butadiene import in order to stop the overfilling of PV-2170, under investigation. Refinery letter dated 10/14/10 states that follow-up letter is forthcoming, but no follow-up is included in file. No LDEQ report. File includes letters from Shell Chemical and Motiva Refinery.

Cat Cracker
Cause: While restarting the cat cracker until, materials flared


Notes: No refinery letter.

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.

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.

Cause: Motiva Enterprises LLC, Norco Refinery is providing a preliminary report for a verbal notification on August 28, 2012 at 1854 hours of a release of 1,3 butadiene, benzene, carbon dioxide, ethylene, flammable gas, hexane, methane, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, propylene and sulfur dioxide from flaring and potential releases to atmosphere from the unexpected shutdown and restart of the site before and during inclement weather due to landfall of Hurricane Isaac. On August 28, 2012, Shell Chemical Norco Site operation was adversely affected by inclement weather due to the landfall of Hurricane Isaac. Several of Shell's Units were un-expectantly shutdown due to safety concerns associated with operating in the weather conditions brought on by the landfall of Hurricane Isaac. All materials were released lo the atmosphere from the associated flare's, and dispersed naturally.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Recovery and preparations for a safe re-start of the site is ongoing (Notification on September 4th). Data gathering to perform calculations and investigation are ongoing. Motiva will provide an update within 60 days as required by LAC 33:1 3925.A.3. The updates were each a word for word copy of the original written notification letter from Motiva. There were also duplicate letters printed on the Shell Chemical letterhead that contained all of the same details from the Motiva reports. At this time (May 22 2013) LDEQ is still processing the update that they claim will have final calculations from their investigation. February 20, 2013 is the most recent follow-up that LABB was able to find (Update May 2013 - we requested the final summary report from LDEQ and received this final report that was published April 25th, 2013). The final report lists completely different pollutants than the list that was being reported in prior written notifications. These inconsistencies are not addressed in the report. Final summary report from Shell chemical 4/25/2013: Shell Chemical operations look the necessary steps to safely shut units down and minimize emissions resulting from the weather associated with Hurricane Isaac. Operations assessed damages, made repairs to equipment and safely return process units to normal operating conditions. RCCU at Motiva Enterprises (from final summary letter dated april 25 2012) On August 29, 2012, Motiva's Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit (RCCU) initiated a shutdown of the process unit due to inclement weather associated with Hurricane Isaac making landfall. During this time, the RCCU experienced an unexpected loss of flare pilot indication at the RCCU Elevated Flare, and a loss of pilot indication on the RCCU CO Heater due to hurricane force winds. An inadvertent catalyst leak developed during this time on level indicator Ll1548. Subsequently, the pH control on the circulation water for the RCCU Flue Gas Scrubber was lost at this time. The reportable quantities for volatile organic compounds and particulate matter were exceeded during this time. Additional details on reportable quantity and permit limit exceedences are listed in the following tables of this report. (also from April 25th report) Shell Chemical Venting to Motiva West Operations Ground Flare On August 29, 2012, Shell Chemical's G0-1 Process Unit flared at Motiva's West Operations Ground Flare due to shutdown and startup activities due to adverse weather conditions associated with the landfall of Hurricane Isaac. Details of the flaring by Shell Chemical are addressed in a separate letter from Shell. A total of the VOCs is given, but report states certain VOCs (carbon dioxide, ethylene, flammable gas, methane, propylene) that do not have breakdown of individual amounts released anywhere. This event did not result in an emergency condition. There were no fatalities, injuries or road closures. Planning and review meetings were held, learning's will be executed in future weather related occurrences as appropriate.
1,791.4 pounds

OL-5 Elevated Flare, FE-101 (EPN 6-84); OL-5 Ground Flare, FG-101 (EPN 7-84)
RCCU CO Heater and Flue Gas Scrubber (EPN 2-91)
RCCU CO Heater and Flue Gas Scrubber (EPN 2-91); OL-5 Elevated Flare, FE-101 (EPN 6-84); OL-5 Ground Flare, FG-101 (EPN 7-84)
Cause: On May 8, 2012, the Motiva Enterprise's Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit (RCCU) was struck by lightning during a heavy rainstorm event resulting in an unforeseen shutdown of the RCCU CO Heater and Flue Gas Scrubber (EPN 2-91). Consequently, an Instrument Protective Function (IPF) associated with the CO Heater's force draft fans automatically tripped the system's main fuel gas burners to safely secure the heater as per design. Motiva operations then worked to stablize the RCCU process unit and assess the damages to the RCCU CO Heater resulting from the lightning strike. The causal analysis generated from the investigation of this incident revealed simultaneous alarms and IPF shutdowns for multiple pieces of equipment associated with the RCCU CO Heater during the time of the incident. A time stamp taken from the RCCU alarm summary noted that several pieces of equipment simultaneously shutdown at 5/8/2012 17:24:34. The pieces of equipment affected from this incident are listed below: CO Heater Forced Draft Fan Electric; CO Heater Forced Draft Fan Turbine; CO Heater Pilot Gas; RCCU Refrigeration Compressor Lube Oil; RCCU Main Air Blower Flow to Fluffing Rings; RCCU Cooling Water Pump Lube Oil Systems. The data proved that the signals initiating the multiple trips were not generated by the processes themselves, but by a non-process related influence. The investigation team determined that a bolt of lightning struck somewhere in close proximity of the junction boxes for the different pieces of equipment near the RCCU CO Heater. Consequently, this caused an inadvertent energy pulse to either stop current on the analog systems, or provide enough voltage to energize the trip signal and shutdown the equipment listed above. On May 8, 2012, Shell Chemical's OL-5 Process Unit experienced an unexpected shutdown of the OL-5 Process Gas Compressor (PGC) due to weather conditions which led to flaring at the OL-5 Elevated and Ground Flares. Weather conditions in the area caused issues in a Motiva Unit leading to a curtailment of the sites steam supply. As per site load shedding policies OL-5 was instructed to shut down the PGC which is a consumer of steam.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Motiva: The RCCU initiated a unit shutdown in a controlled manner following all operating and safety procedures in order to minimize excess emissions to the atmosphere. As part of the initial shutdown procedure, operating rates were reduced significantly leading up the unit showdown. Simultaneously, a maintenance work plan was developed and executed in a effort to re-establish normal operations of the RCCU CO Heater. At this time electrical inspectors were called in to visually inspect the associated junction boxes for this shutdown system. Additionally, enhanced monitoring of the shutdown system was performed to assure that no damage had occurred as a result of the lightning strike. Once the maintenance work was complete, the RCCU CO Heater was returned to service. Operations then worked to stabilize the CO Heater operations, and began to reverse the shutdown process following all operating and safety procedures. Motiva completed IPF checks to confirm that the instrument protective functions for this system are functioning as needed. Shell Chemical LP.-East: Furnaces in OL-5 were taken off feed after the PGC was shutdown to minimize flaring. The OL-5 process unit was secured until the steam supply was restored to normal conditions to allow for a safe restart of the PGC. In their original final report, Shell Chemical LP - East Site indicated that the permit level for benzene was exceeded; they sent a corrected final report on August 9, 2012 explaining that the permit level for benzene was not exceeded as indicated in the earlier report. As seen on first table Date/Time: 5/8/12 17:25 - 5/9/12 17:25 for section V.a. carbon monoxide was released about reportable quantities. In addition to carbon monoxide being above reportable quantity, benzene was as well although it was not reported as such. The reportable quantity for benzene is 10 lbs with the total amount of benzene being released from Shell Chemical LP - East Site being 967.9 lbs. The LDEQ sent out an emergency responder, Nicole Hardy, who took atmospheric samples from May 8, 2012 at 17:40 to 5/9/12 at 23:30 for a total of 1 day, 5 hours and 50 minutes; all of the samples came back as being below the Permissible Exposure Limits. Although they do not report the pollutant as exceeding reportable quantity - the facility released quantities that exceeded reportable quantities for benzene during the 2 days of this event. The initial verbal notification was made on May 8, 2012. There was an initial written notification (follow up report to verbal notification) made by both Shell chemical and Motiva on July 3, 2012. The first written notification was not made in a timely manner as per state regulations. Since the July 3rd report was their first written notification following the initial verbal notification, therefore they missed the 7 day deadline to make written notification (the deadline would have been May 15, 2013; it would be 48 days late as it was written 55 days after the accident). Another follow up report termed the "final release report" was made by both Shell chemical and Motiva on August 2, 2012. A final follow up report termed the "corrected final release report" was made by by Shell chemical on August 9, 2012 - there was no corrected final report made by Motiva.
1,032.7 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.