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Valero (26003), Norco

Releases of Ethane

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

outlet line of the C3C4 KOH Dryers (V-17-05A/B)
Cause: A hole was found in the LPG line that feeds the T-17 bullets. The hole was 1/4 inch.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Valero responded to the leak found by submerging the line with fire water to suppress vapors, isolating the leak, and depressuring the line/vessel to flare. The failed section of the pipe was replaced and the line returned back to service. The isolationand depressurization lasted approximately 1h 15m.
156.0 pounds

Coker "A" drum
Cause: Process vapors were released through a crack in the Coker "A" drum, the integrity of which is included as part of the preventative maintenance program. Therefore, this event qualifies as a reasonably unforeseeable upset. The crack occurred at an elevated altitude, and process vapors were completely dispersed near the vicinity of the Coker structure where the release occurred. The refinery estimated that 85% of the release was steam, since the product was well into the quenching portion of the process.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Emissions from the drum crack escaped to the atmosphere and were dispersed. The refinery shifted from 4-drum to 3-drum operation and reduced charge rates as appropriate. As of 10/14/11, the cracked drum has been repaired and returned to service. New engineering data indicates that designs that include a thicker sidewall will provide superior performance and minimize any vessel cracking. The refinery has purchased these drums, and they are on schedule for installation (replacing the old drums) in the first quarter of 2012. The refinery also has a program of routine non-destructive testing that attempts to predict potential problem areas in these drums.
454.0 pounds

Coker LPG line
Cause: Valero had blinded and de-inventoried the Coke LPG line as part of a project to elevate the Prospect Road pipe bridge that connects their East Plant and West Plant. The blinds were removed several days prior to the incident but valves in the pipe system remained closed. Valero believes that gas leaked by one of the valves and accumulated in a section of pipe after the blind had been removed on the West Plant side of the project area thus trapping gas between two closed valves. On the day of the incident, the project operator opened the downstream valve in the pipe bridge that was closest to the FCCU in order to commission a new section of pipe; the upstream valve remained. When the valve was cracked open, gas that had accumulated in the pipe leaked out into the FCCU which was undergoing construction at the time of the incident.

Followup: Yes

Notes: Coker liquified petroleum gas (LPG) which is composed mainly of butenes and propenes was released from pipe openings in the FCCU area and dispersed. Emissions were minimized by isolating the coker LPG line. Valero identified the following corrective actions and target completion dates were identified as a result of the root cause failure analysis of this incident: (1) Issue safety alert on this incident to all personnel (2) Review incident with operators and discuss need for good communications when lining up piping to units (3) Develop a battery limits blind list for the FCCU for use during future turnarounds (4) Develop a battery limits list for Complex III (Crude-Vacuum-Coker units) for use during future turnarounds
146.6 pounds