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Motiva Enterprises (1406), Norco

Releases of Highly Reactive Volatile Organic Compounds (HRVOCs)

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.
8,212.0 pounds

West Ops Ground Flare (EPN# 9-84)
Cause: Flaring at West Ops Ground Flare (EPN #9-84) occurred due to a shut down and start up of GO-1 Process Unit to repair a leaking heat exchanger.

Followup: No

Notes: Letter states that emissions were BRQ. Emission point was from Motiva Norco's flares. However, the root cause of the accident occurred in Shell Chemical Plant.

DU-5 Unit
Cause: An atmospheric leak of light naphtha gasoline material was identified in Motiva's Distilling unit due to a piping failure on the crude column overhead line. Initially, operations personnel identified the line dripping in two locations, and vaporizing before reaching grade.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Operations developed a plan to safely remove insulation so that the leak could be stopped. Operations installed barricade tape around affected area and monitored the leak for benzene. A catch tray was fabricated and mounted directly to the crude overhead piping to contain atmospheric emissions while the associated insulation was removed from the crude overhead line. Once the insulation was removed, a pipe clamp was installed to permanently stoped the leak. The overhead piping will be replaced during the next unit turnaround in October 2006.
1,885.0 pounds

Alkylation Unit Utililty Column PV-1108
Cause: A flammable gas leak was identified in Motiva's Alkylation unit on Utility Column PV-1108. While performing sandblasting work on the vessel, a Basic Industries employee discovered a hydrocarbon leak on the vessel, and Motiva Operations was notified.

Followup: Yes

Notes: The Norco VSERT team was activated to verify that this was a hydrocarbon leak. Once this was verified, unit operators shutdown the Alkylation Unit, isolated Utility Column PV-1108, and plugged the hole in the column to stop the leak. To prevent recurrence, Motiva has made permanent repairs to the Alkylation Utility Column PV-1108 and plans to inspect it on a routine basis. Motiva now requires sandblasting contracts to have sandblasting quality control systems in place. Motiva Coordinators perform random job site audits of sandblasting work areas to assure that quality control systems are being practiced.
6,722.0 pounds


relief valve at RCCU
Cause: Depropanizer column relief valve (RV-7207) failed at the Residual Catalytic Cracking Unit, prematurely relieving below its set pressure.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Valve was isolated to stop release, "employed proper mitigation steps for alternate relief protection to prevent further environmental impact," valve removed, sent off for repair and reinstalled. It was noted that there was a noise associated with the RV piping at the time of the release--one complaint received.

FLARE: Coker WGC (K-2178), Coker Flare (EPN 2-84)
Cause: Refinery letter states that Motiva experienced a flaring release caused by an unexpected shutdown of the Coker Wet Gas compressor due to power loss. Power loss is attributed to fault in MCC breaker and 4160V buss.

Followup: No

Notes: RQ. Coker Unit shutdown and restarted when flaring stopped. Re-evaluated relay settings and adjusted as needed to reduce potential for future trips.
15.0 pounds

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."
11,768.7 pounds

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.

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.

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