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Motiva Enterprises (1406), Norco

Releases of Ethylene

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

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.
604.0 pounds

Coker Flare FE-401 (EPN 2-84)
No iCoker Flare FE-401 (EPN 2-84)nformation given
Cause: Flaring resulted from the 3/4" drain line on the case of pump P-1983 breaking off while decon piping was being installed, causing the Coker Unit to be shutdown. Flushing oil was released from the pump casing to secondary containment but there was no release outside of the containment or to soil or water.

Followup: Yes

Notes: The Coker Unit was shut down and PV-901 depressured to reduce leaking while pump was isolated. Further corrective actions are being reviewed by Motiva Enterprises' legal department.
0.1 pounds

FLARE - HCU elevated flare
Cause: FLARE. FIRE. Power failure caused rapid shutdown of Hydrocracking Unit due to a valve failure. Moisture had accumulated causing corrosion on the wiring and connections. During troubleshooting, hydroprocessing exchanger E-1057 bottom head caught fire. Fire extinguished with water, no injuries.

Followup: No

Notes: BRQ. No RQs exceeded but did exceed max lb per hour permit limit for SO2. Process unit restarted and conditions returned to normal. Wiring, connector block, and seal repaired to prevent moisture from causing further corrosion.

Cause: Refinery letter states that "the main air blower for Motiva's RCCU unit tripped unexpectedly which..resulted in an emergency shut down of the RCCU and RGHT units." Upon start up of RCCU, it is suspected the RCCU flare pilot was unlit causing release to air of Ethylene, Propylene, 1,3=Butadiene, VOC, Flammable Gas, HRVOC. HEAVY FLARING ALSO OCCURRED AT SHELL CHEMICAL LP but will be included in a separate report (GO-1 flare). Follow-up report states that "Motiva WAS NOT ABLE TO DETERMINE THE ULTIMATE CAUSE of the loss of the pilot flame, but that gas pressure being set above the design pressure or severe weather conditions may have contributed to the loss of pilot flame. FLARE.

Followup: Yes

Notes: RQ. Reportable quantities were exceeded during this incident. "All released materials were dispersed naturally in the atmosphere from the RCCU flare stack." Release was stopped by the re-lighting of the flare. Also flare pilot flame-out alarm was placed back into service and refresher training provided to all operations personnel on the importance of maintaining flare pilot flames. LDEQ report states that according to "LDEQ Enforcement Division, this incident is being included in an Enforcement Action being drafted by the LDEQ Enforcement Division."
1,417.3 pounds

Coker Flare FE-401
Cause: While starting the Coker Jet Pump on 9/29/11 at 6:45pm, the electrical breaker at Motiva's Coking Unit tripped de-energizing the Motor Control Center. Consequently, the Coker Wet Gas Compressor tripped offline therefore resulting in unit flaring and operating in hot circulation mode. Hot circulation mode is an operating mode in which the unit recycles feed at high temperatures. This mode of operation lessens the amount of flaring in comparison to a complete unit shutdown. The initial inspection of the Jet Pump revealed that the auto-transformer serving as a soft start for this pump had failed causing the electrical breaker to trip open. Once repairs were completed, the Coker Unit was safely re-started and flaring stopped.

Followup: No

Notes: Immediately, Operations placed the furnace F-125 in hot steam standby and brought the Coker Unit into hot circulation mode to prevent additional flaring of non treated gas. Norco maintenance personnel were called out to troubleshoot the trip of the Coker Wet Gas Compressor and related equipment. The auto-transformer was removed from the circuit. Relay coordination was modified in order to protect the new circuit. After troubleshooting, maintenance personnel determined that operations could safely re-start the Coker Process Unit. During this time the Coker Wet Gas Compressor was restarted and flaring stopped. By 12/31/11 a study will be completed to determine whether the auto-transformer can be permanently removed from the system. After this study is completed, a strategy will be created to address the required changes. This action will be completed by 3/31/12. Calculations confirm that the reportable quantity for sulfur dioxide was exceeded as well as the permitted maximum pound per hour emission limits for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, VOC's, 1,3 butadiene, and benzene as a result of the release.
7.1 pounds

Flare: EPN 3-84
Cause: A leak occurred at HIC-84, along the downstream block valves, allowing nitrogen to enter the column causing a rapid pressure increase. The distilling unit upper crude column became overpressured, and PCV-195 opened the flare to relieve pressure in the column. EPN 3-84 Flare at Shell was used because the Motiva flare was upset and the pilot light was out. Original upset occurred at Motiva DU-5 Crude Unit with a notrogen leak into the Upper Crude Column.

Followup: No

Notes: The Shell report for the motiva release was dated May 5th, 2010 instead of 2011.

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.

RCCU Flare (FE-201)
Cause: Motiva's Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit (RCCU) experienced a perceived flame outage on its elevated flare (FE-201) during planned shutdown and decontamination activities. Alarms on the RCCU Elevated Flare indicated that a flame was not present. Operations personnel went in the field and verified that a flame was actually present and the alarm was incorrect. As a precautionary measure, decontamination efforts stopped. Once flame verification was complete, decontamination efforts were restarted.

Followup: No


Cause: On 2/27/2014, an unexpected leak occured on Motiva's Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit (RCCU) second cyclone dip leg. Due to the location of the leak, the catalyst leak cound not be safely repaired while the unit was fully operations. A partial shutdown of the RCCU was conducted to stop the leak and complete repairs. While the unit was partially shut down, flaring occured intermittently at the RCCU Elevated Flare (EPN FE201) to safely stabilize equipment that was still operational. During the start up of RCCU, untreated dry gas was flared at the GO1 Elevated Flare.

Followup: Yes

Notes: To minimize additional unit upset and to safely repair the catalyst leak , the RCCU Unit was partially shut down in a safe manner. The catalyst leak was stopped and the second cyclone dip leg was repaired. The original report and the first follow up report included in the event description that untreated dry gas was flared at the GO1 Elevated Flare during the start-up of RCCU. This was not included in the final follow up report. Additionally, two follow up reports were sent by Motiva, the first dated 4/24/2014 to provide a 60 day follow up. In this correspondence it is stated that they will provide a second update within 60 days, as data gathering and investigation was ongoing. The final follow up report was received on 6/24/2014.
9.5 pounds

1300# steam system at Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit
Cause: "Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit's Elevated Flare as a result of a swing in the steam system." "Motiva's RCCU unit flared processed gas due to a swing in the 1300# steam system"

Followup: No

Notes: The report filed on 1/13/14 indicated that Shell will release an updated report within 60 days as of 9/5/14 the report has yet to be made.