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ExxonMobil Chemical Plant (286), Baton Rouge

Releases of Ethylbenzene

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

Cause: As a result of Hurricane Gustav the Baton Rouge Resins Finishing Plant (BRFP) experienced significant facility damage and power interruptions that required operations to safely shutdown. Hurricane Gustav is clearly considered an "act of god." The Baton Rouge Resin Finishing Plant only had generators for electrical power to maintain a small number of instruments and critical pumps. There was no power available for the compressors that collect vent gases from storage tanks and route them to the site's flare. The seal leg on the flare seal drum prevented the relatively small breathing losses from reaching the flare for combustion. The flare pilots were extinguished during the storm but we have established the ability to relight it. However due to natural gas supply availability and the inability to route the vent streams to the flare tip we elected to allow the flare pilots to remain unlit until we restored power to the vapor recovery compressors. Power was restored to BRFP at 230 pm on 9/6/08 and the flare pilots were relit. All tanks that were venting to the atmosphere were routed to the flare.

Followup: No

Notes: BRFP was safely and systematically shutdown due to hurricane Gustav. Learning from this event will be incorporated into future hurricane preparations. BRFP was unable to complete some of the timing obligations due to Hurricane Gustav. It has prevented from meeting all the timing obligations of the required September monitoring. At the time the primary focus of mechanical resources was on storm related repairs to enable safe startup of unit operations. The plant was to accomplish the LDAR monitoring within the next 60 days. In addition, the availability of parts is also a difficult logistics problem so the focus was on their resources toward startup. BRFP was safely and systematically shutdown due to Hurricane Gustav. Learnings from this event will be incorporated into future hurricane preparations. .
1.0 pounds


H furnace
Cause: Three events occurred within 24 hours of one another at the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Chemical Plant. Two are reported in this report (LDEQ #107433), the other is reported separately (LDEQ #107421). In this incident (107433), a furnace tube leaked into convection section of H-furnace and caught fire. The tube leak occurred as a result of the incident described in report #107421. At approximately 5:56 PM on July 21, 2008, the charge gas compressor at the Olefins unit shut down when several processing cards in the gas turbine control system failed. When the compressor shut down, four furnaces automatically shut down and the gas in the furnaces was evacuated to the flare system. One of the remaining three furnaces was subsequently shut down while the remaining two furnaces continued to operated at 50% rates in order to maintain stable unit operations, which resulted in additional flaring for the duration of the event. The high rate of gas to the flare system resulted in the #25 flare smoking for 2 hours and 17 minutes. When the Olefins unit shut down, steam was introduced into the furnaces to displace the hydrocarbon feed to reduce flaring emissions. At 12:20 PM on July 22, 2008, while the H furnace was in the process of starting up, a leak was discovered in the convection section of the furnace. To stop the leak, water was introduced into the leaking pass of the furnace to displace the hydrocarbon feed. It is believed that the leak developed when steam was introduced into the furnace. Tube leaked into convection section of H-furnace and caught fire.

Followup: Yes

Notes: This incident is the result of the incident #107421 (see comments under that incident). Immediately after the incident began, five of the seven furnaces at the Olefins unit were shut down. Excess gas was sent to flare system. Water was introduced into the leaking furnace pass to displace the feed and prevent uncombusted hydrocarbons from leaking into the atmosphere. Concerning subsequent preventative actions, the failed processing cards were replaced. The H furnace was taken out of service to be inspected for leak location and repairs will be completed as necessary. Used water in the tube to eliminate the burning material. Flammable gass consisted of mainly Butane.

Cause: Styrene monomer tank experienced a roof failure, cause undetermined. The tank was in the process of being de-inventoried and transfer to another tank remains underway. During transfer of crude styrene from one storage tank to another the roof of storage tank MV-816 failed.


Notes: They have begun an air monitoring plan, testing for Styrene and LEL. Slight odor at the tank but nothing detected outside fence line. They do not believe any RQ were exceeded.
250.0 pounds

line leak at flange
Cause: They had a line that has leaked at a flange and is causing the release. They are isolating the line to stop the leak.

Followup: no

Notes: Benzene was released at .67 lbs/hr. Butadiene was released at .11 lbs/hr. Hydrocarbon gas was released at 18.77 lbs/hr. Styrene Monomer was released at 50.41 lbs/hr. Ethylbenzene was released at 30.16 lbs/hr. Toluene was released at 120.66 lbs/hr.

control valve of HCE compressor
WILA tanks #8 and 9
Cause: The release was caused by the failure of a control valve downstream of the HCE compressor. The control valve downstream of the HCE compressor failed to close which caused the HCE compressor to trip off.


Notes: Since there was no outlet for the vapor in the HCE system, the pressure built in the tanks until the pressure vents lifted, released hydrocarbon to the atmosphere. The back up hydrocarbon emissions control system which uses vacuum jets to recover the excess vapors was comissioned. Proper operation of the vacuum jets was confirmed shortly thereafter. The control valve and instrumentation will be repaired and inspected before being returned to servvice.
0.1 pounds

Tank 21 and Rain Basin 1
Cause: A failed bleeder plug was found at Tank 801 in the BRCP's Aromatics Tankfield. Approximately 411 barrels of steam cracked naptha reached the sewer system via this bleeder. All material was retained in waste water treatment facility. While the naphtha was being pumped to tanks #778, #26, #22 and #21, a rain event occurred, which overwhelmed the facility's ability to pump the liquid to the tanks. Therefore, the material was diverted to the Rain Basin I surface impoundment. Of the water pumped into the basin, there were 1,712 lbs of benzene and 419 lbs of toluene.

Followup: Yes

Notes: The water was to be pumped to the waste water treatment plant for treatment before being discharged to outfall 001. Firefighting foam was placed on top to reduce volatilized chemicals. Half the materials spilled were recovered. All values are based on the vaporized material and represents a very small amount of loss. The material is being pumped and moved to onsite storage to facilitate recovery and treatment of the material. All recovered liquid material is being placed in tanks 778, 21, 22, and 26, all of which are properly configured and permitted to store this material. On June 14, 2012, the site began the process of understanding the constituents of the steam cracked naptha that may have been released to the air by performing material balance calculations. During the first 24-48 hours of the incident response, the intial assumptions were that a majority of the material was being contained with minimal evaporative losses. Emissions reporting was based on the initial vaporization of material from the leak duration. Sample of the stored and liquid material were collected from multiple areas and storage facilities to help develop a more definitive material balance of the total steam cracked naptha released. As a precaution, at 1230pm on Jun 14, 2012, approximately 400 employees and contractors in the impacted areas of the complex were tested for potential exposure. ExxonMobil believes that none of these individuals will have any adverse impacts. The site conducted regular monitoring at the fence line every four hours and in three unit areas on an hourly basis during the incident response activites. All fence line readings remain below detection. ExxonMobil Industrial Hygiene personel continue to conduct air monitoring and are verifying safe conditions for areas were personnel are working. Fenceline monitoring will be conducted until the steam cracked naptha material in tank 21 and RB-1 have been treated through the Refinery Wastewater Treatment facilities. Firefighting foam was added to the sewer system every 1-2 hours to minimize the amount of evaporative losses. This foam did not impact wastewater treatment operations or capabilities in the quantities utilized during this incident.
27.0 pounds