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Valero (1238), Meraux

Releases of Hydrocarbon

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

Facility Fugitives- #2 FCCU
Cause: Leak in the #2 FCCU Reactor manway flange.

Followup: No

Notes: RQ exceeded. Applied steam to disperse the vapors. Attempted to fix the leak by tightening the manway flange bolts, but failed. Shutdown the FCCU because the leak worsened. Placed a clamp and then sealed to stop the leak. Will inculde inspecting and repairing the manway during planned maintenance procedures.
44,000.0 pounds

stacks from #2 FCCU
Cause: #2 FCCU had an upset in the system called FCC reversal. This involved an imbalance of pressure in the system creating yellowish smoke that was released from the stacks.

Followup: No

Notes: RQ exceeded. Secured and re-started #2 FCCU.
35,000.0 pounds

Labratory Sump
Cause: LDEQ report states that hydrocarbon mixture (oil/water/hydrocarbon) discharged into ditch along Colonial Pipeline, south of Jacob drive. Release occurred due to a crack in a sump discharge pipe fitting causing the suction problems with the two pumps that drain the sump. This resulted in sump fluids leaking from the sump vent pipe and possibly the cracked fitting.

Followup: No

Notes: LDEQ report states that refinery flushed storm drain, removed contaminated water in ditch and sent to facility's waste water treatment plant, removed contaminated soil and sent to River Birch for disposal. Installed alarm system on lab sump and and extended sump vent pipe 8 feet in air to prevent reoccurrance.
10.0 gallons

#2 FCCU Reactor Vessel
Cause: Refinery letter states that a small hole developed in the #2 FCCU reactor vessel.

Followup: No

Notes: BRQ. The hole was repaired, and the unit was returned to service.
1.2 pounds

discharge piping of #2 HiJet
discharge piping of #2 HiJet and North Flare
North Flare
Cause: Valero experienced excess emissions of hydrocarbon vapors and H2S from a pin-hole leak on the discharge piping of the #2HiJet. The #2 HiJet collects low pressure sour gas from several units in the refinery, compresses it, and routes it to amine treatment for use in the refinery fuel gas system. In the final written notification dated March 11, 2013, Valero determined the root cause to be inadequate system design for corrosion prevention. The leak was caused by pitting corrosion on a piping elbow that was installed in 2010. This short service life indicates an aggressive corrosion mechanism that was not originally anticipated by Valero. Valero conducted ultrasonic and radiography surveys of this line and discovered lower than expected wall thickness in some areas and debris or sludge building obstructing flow in several locations. Low points allowing moisture and solids buildup can cause areas of aggressive corrosion in wet, hydrogen sulfide service. Valero also believes that the pipe metallurgy in this case, carbon steel, should be re-evaluated for fitness for service under these particular process conditions.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Valero quickly diverted the gases normally collected by the #2 HiJet to the flare and shut down the #2 HiJet. Valero then reduced charge rates of the affected units to minimize SO2 emissions at the flare and began the process of transferring some of the diverted gases to the #1 HiJet for recovery. The #1 HiJet has a lower capacity than the #2 HiJet and cannot take all the gases collected by the #2 HiJet. The Vacuum Unit Hotwell Offgas remained in the flare and lean amine to the Hotwell Offgas Scrubber was maximized to reduce SO2 emissions at the flare. Valero discovered that the valve separating the leaking pip and the #1 Amine Low Pressure Knock Out Pot was leaking by and sour gas continued to leak to the atmosphere. Valero installed a temporary hose upstream of the leak to allow the leaking section of the piping to be pressurized with Nitrogen and swept to the flare from a point downstream of the leak. Within minutes of starting the Nitrogen sweep, H2S was no longer detected in the area and the Total Sulfure Analyzer on the flare indicated a significant increase in the flare line. This caused SO2 emissions at the North Flare to exceed RQ. Valero installed a clamp on the leaking section of the pipe and restarted the #2 HiJet Valero issued a second and final follow up report to this incident on March 11, 2013 in which Valero determines the root cause of the release to be inadequate system design for corrosion prevention and believes pipe metallurgy should be re-evaluated.

North Flare
Cause: The flow of chilled water to the C3/C4 Splitter's overhead condensers unexpectedly decreased, causing a pressure increase within the tower. To relieve the pressure, splitter overhead material was relieved to the North Flare.

Followup: No

Notes: A citizen complaint on 7/7/12 described in the morning, the north flare had a very low flame with a black trail. In the pm, there was a high jet burn then low jet burn with black trail light. There was also an odor in the air. A surveillance conducted on 7/16 and 7/20 of the area found no large flare or black trails observed. An odor was not detected at the time of the inspections. To minimize the flaring, the FCC charge rate was reduced. The chilled water heat exchangers were backflushed. This, combined with increasing the chilled water circulation rate, reduced the pressure in the tower and stopped the flaring. While the release to the North Flare caused a temporary exceedence of Title V and Consent Decree limits, no CERCLA/EPCRA reportable quantities were released. No reportable quantities were released during the subsequent flaring to relieve pressure within the tower. Claims they will submit the appropriate periodic reports regarding the exceedences, but no such report attached.

Chemical injection line
Wastewater Treatment Plant
Cause: A citizen called in a complaint on 2/18/13 citing a "sulfur odor." The complaint is described: " Sulfur odor noticed at 10:30am and stronger at 04:12pm winds easterly. Started feeling bad and as day worn on began getting headache." LDEQ conducted surveillance of the area on 2/19/13, and noted a slight odor of burnt hydrocarbons near the entrance of the plant from St. Bernard highway. According to Valero facility rep Justin Stubbe, "a review of February 18th operations reveals no upsets or malfunctions. A daily patrol of the refinery perimeter recorded a slight odor from the refinery's wastewater treatment plant. Given the brisk wind that day (10-20 MPH with an approaching front), it is possible that this odor carried further than it normally does. We are reviewing wastewater treatment plant operations for potential opportunities to reduce odors. Two events occurred on the Crude Unit on February 19th. It is unknown whether they may be related to the odors you detected on St. Bernard Highway. A compressor suffered a mechanical failure (approximately 11:45 HRS) and a small leak occurred on a chemical injection line (approximately 16:30 HRS). No emergency condition existed and no reportable quantities were released. The compressor has been shut down for repairs and the chemical injection line was isolated."

Followup: No

Notes: Valero comments that no upsets or malfunctions occurred, but also listed three possible reasons for odors: wastewater odors recorded, a small leak occurred on a chemical injection line, and a compressor suffered a mechanical failure.