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Valero (1238), Meraux

Releases of Unknown Substance

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

Cause: Two process unit upsets were experienced during period of citizen complaint. The #2 FCU shut down in the early morning hours of December 10th due to issues with its waste heat steam generator, and the debutanizer on the naphtha hydrotreater was vented to the flare for just over one hour on December 13th. Gases were routed to the flare during these events.


Notes: Complaint: 12/13 Noxious odors for the last 4-5 days in the early morning hours. An odor was noted by a Valery employee near the refinery's Water Treatment Plant. The odor may have been the result of low odor threshold sulfur species in the wastewater. Odor may have been noticeable beyond the refinery fence line due to wind direction at the time. These events did not exceed permit limits or reportable quantities. LDEQ responded to citizen complaint on the following dates: 12/14/11, 12/19/11, 1/12/12, 1/30/12, 2/15/12, 3/4/12 with no responses received or unanswered phone calls. On 3/27 a meeting was conducted and Mr. Randall Browning, Director of Environmental Affairs stated he would gather the information and respond.

Cause: Odor is due to detached seal on tank. LADEQ references incident # 141523 in attached report for this specific incident, but LABB could not locate any additional documentation for incident 141523. The LADEQ report also references incident 141477 in relation to plant operations in relation to this specific instance. While no information is provided indicating what pollutants were released by the detached seal, Valero does admit that the smell reported by the citizen complaint is in relation to the detached seal.

Followup: No

Notes: Citizen complaint made on 8/9/12 in regards to observations made on 8/8. Complaint included: Noises that sounded like a helicopter drowned out the TV. A flare was noticed. Has been experiencing flu like symptoms since early in the evening of 8/8/12. This is becoming a routine as far as feeling sick when Valero is supposedly starting up units, which is quite often. Things should be improving, not reverting backwards to the old Murphy way. Survey conducted on 8/10 of the surrounding area around the facility. No odors noted on the west side of the facility in the neighborhoods. On the east side of the property an odor similar to burnt hydrocarbons was noticed near the tank area. DEQ database revealed two additional citizen complaints.

North and South Flares
Cause: Refinery experience a total loss of electrical power. A transfer switch located in the Entergy substation next to the refinery shorted out and tripped both incoming electrical feeders to the refinery. Immediately following there was significant flaring from both the North and South flares. Power was restored after about 90 minutes. The majority of units were back in stable operation by 04/14/12

Followup: No

Notes: Complaint received: On 4/11 at 5:05 am was large dark orange flaring. On 4/12 at 5:12 am was high flare bluish in color. Had been observing a substantial amount of flaring for approximately a month and all of them other than the flare observed on 4/12 have been dark orange. Flares occuring during daylight have black trails associated with them. Cannot tell in the dark if these trails are present. At 6:00-615 am the flare goes into idle mode. The last time a blue flame was observed was when Murphy was using a high jet system. Surveillance conducted in the area on 4/17/12 states that a large flare or smoke was not observed at this time. All equipment in the refinery was shut down, including the process units, steam boilers and instrument and plant air compressors. Power was restored after about 90 minutes. Once power was restored efforts were begun to restart refinery utility systems in preparation for a sequential startup of the process units. Immediately following the loss of power was significant flaring from both the North and South flares. Flaring dissipated once pressures in the unites were stabilized but some flaring did continue. Due to all boilers in the plant having to be shut down, it was not possible to provide steam to the flares so the flares did smoke even when the hydrocarbon flow rates tot he flares were moderate to minimal. Once the boilers were restarted and steam system pressures were adequate, steam flows to the flares were re-established and the smoking was eliminated. Individual unit startups occurred during the following days. On occasions during the startup period, steam relief valves did relieve to the atmosphere causing noise conditions noticeable off site. These steam relief valve events were primarily the results of the changing demands on the steam systems as they worked through the startup process.