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Valero (1238), Meraux

Releases in 2013

LDEQ Accident Number
Accident Date
Point Source/Release CauseNotes
152761

2013-12-08
Point Source(s):
flange on crude slop line

Pollutant(s):
Slop Oil - 84 gallons
Cause of Problem: Seal or Gasket

On December 8, 2013, a leak was discovered on a flange on a crude slop line in a ground level pipe rack. Valero has determined the root cause of this release to be an improperly tightened flange. Over time, the bolts securing the flange had become loose, allowing the flange faces to separate, and materials to be released. A Reportable Quantity was exceeded but no emergency condition existed. No material escaped beneath the immediate pipe rack. Due to the small size of the spill and cool temperatures, volatilization was negligible.
The leaking flange was tightened, stopping the release. Valero has since inspected the rest of this length of piping, and is working to correct any deficiencies noted in the inspection report. A vacuum truck was dispatched to remove the oil and water beneath the pipe rack. Recovered liquids were transferred within the refinery for separation and treatment and the contaminated soil was moved to a roll off bin for off-site disposal.
152726

2013-12-05
Point Source(s):
South flare

Pollutant(s):
Propane - BRQ
Butane - BRQ
Cause of Problem: No Information Given

Startup of the alky unit and depropanizer were the source of increase flaring. Propane and butane were being flared during the startup.
The event will be reported in the semi-annual Title V deviation report. Reportable quantities were not exceeded during the start up. Note: A citizen complain initiated this incident report. The caller reported large flaring, noise, and vibrations at her home.
152227

2013-11-08
Point Source(s):
Gasoline Storage Tank (200-1) Vacuum Breakers

Pollutant(s):
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) - BRQ
Cause of Problem: No Information Given

Citizen complaint filed on 11/8/2013 reporting a foul odor causing headaches. The Liquid level the the external floating roof gasoline storage tank (Tank 200-1) was lowered to a point where the vacuum breakers on the roof started to open. These vacuum breakers are designed to protect the tank when the floating roof is landed onto its legs. With the vacuum breakers open, VOC emmissions from 200-1 would increase above their normal baseline. The level in the tank was lowered, which caused the system to act in such a was as to prevent back flow from the tank into the system (the vacuum breakers opening), however, we are unsure as to how the liquid levels go to be low enough to cause this to happen.
Once this condition was discovered, the liquid level in the tank was increased until the vacuum breakers closed. This opening was logged as a Title V permit deviation, and is to be reported in the next semi-annual Title V deviation report.
151862

2013-10-25
Point Source(s):
Crude unit heat exchanger

Pollutant(s):
Crude Oil - 8,400 gallons
Benzene - 71 pounds
Cause of Problem: Equipment Design

At approximately 14:09 on 10/25/13, Valero experienced an unexpected release of crude oil when a stopple failed on a Crude Unit heat exchanger while a third party specialty contractor was working to install a bypass. A stopple is a device that isolates equipment for maintenance when a block valve is unavailable. The pressurized crude oil was released in an upward direction for approximately 15 minutes. Although most of the crude oil released remained on site, some of the resulting spray traveled offsite with the wind and was deposited on nearby East St. Bernard Highway and vehicles traveling on the highway. This spray continued in a southwesterly direction and left small spots of crude oil over the exposed sides of Valero buildings and vehicles in the nearby parking lot. Valero's dock facility and a moored ocean-going barge were also covered with a light spotting of small crude droplets. Valero also reported a sheen on the Mississippi River from this release which had largely dissipated by the time containment booms could be deployed. Light spotting has also been reported on some vehicles and structures in the Belle Chasse area. The root cause of the stopple failure was an undersized nose plate. The nose plate is a metal disc slightly smaller than the inside diameter of the pipe that is wedged into the pipe perpendicular to the flow. A gasket is attached to the nose plate that provides a seal along the inner walls of the pipe. In this case, the undersized nose plate did not provide enough support for the gasket and the gasket failed. The stopple fabrication and installation was performed by a third party specialty contractor with extensive expertise in performing this type of work. This contractor also conducted an investigation and determined that the nose plate had been modified in the field on a previous job, but no records of this modification existed. Consequently, this nose plate remained in circulation as a "standard" nose.
Valero immediately took steps to shut off the Crude charge pumps and all nearby unit heaters. The crude oil continued to leak at a much lower rate as the system depressurized, but shortly after the crude pumps were shutdown, oil was no longer spraying off site. A mixture of crude oil and water continued to leak out onto the ground at a reduced rate until all sources of pressure were isolated at 17:20. Valero quickly mobilized contractors to clean up the highway and the barge moored at the dock. The highway was re-opened at 18:21 on 10/25/13 and the barge sailed the next day. Inside the refinery, free oil has been removed by vacuum truck and recovered. Clean-up efforts are on-going in the refinery and south of St. Bernard highway. To date these activities have included: 1) Wiping up visible oil with absorbent materials, 2) Cutting grass spotted with oil and collecting the clippings for disposal, 3) Applying Micro-Blaze Emergency Liquid Spill Control bioremediation agent to affected areas on the ground, 4) Washing spotted vehicles at an offsite location. Valero has provided car washes to the public as well. Air monitoring was conducted on and off site. Valero personnel donned breathing protection (full face respirators) when working in the immediate area of the release. Benzene readings of 0.15 ppm were briefly detected offsite along Valero's property line. Valero has worked closely with the third party contractor to develop corrective actions to prevent a reoccurrence of this event. The third party contractor has committed to: 1) train all stopple set-up technicians to review the findings and reiterate procedures and best practices. 2) inspect all nose plates in use and remove from circulation those that are out of tolerance, 3) implement a receipt inspection requirement to flag field modifications and initiate repair, and 4) modify the Hot Tap Critical step checklist to require the field technician to sigh off on key stopple measurements. Note: During the time of flaring, a citizen complaint was submitted on account of sulfur odor (Incident #151864). According to the environmental engineers from Valero, the odors likely came from Valero's waste water treatment plant, which was operating normally at the time.
151215

2013-09-22
Point Source(s):
Pump at Tank 200-7

Pollutant(s):
#6 Oil - 210 gallons
Cause of Problem: Equipment Design

While collecting a sample from Tank 200-7, a laboratory technician observed 6-Oil under a pump and on the surrounding ground. He immediately notified Operations personnel who determined that the pump seal had failed. They proceeded to isolate the pump and stop the leak. It was determined that six barrels had spilled within the pump's concrete containment basin and another five barrels overflowed onto the surrounding grassy area. The root cause of this spill to be an improper pump seal flush design. Due to the improper design, variations in product density and low levels in Tank 200-7 may have reduced seal flush supply pressure and flow, allowing the seal to run dry and ultimately fail.
A vacuum truck was dispatched to remove as much of the 6-Oil as possible and shovels and a backhoe were used to remove the remaining material in the grassy area. Recovered liquids were transferred to the refinery for separation and treatment and the contaminated soil was moved to a roll off bin for off-site disposal. All soils and vegetation with visible contamination was removed for disposal at an offsite commercial landfill. Valero will modify the pump seal flush piping to allow for adequate seal flushing.
150383

2013-08-14
Point Source(s):


Pollutant(s):
Oil - 0 gallons
Cause of Problem: Under Investigation

On August 14, 2013, while assessing conditions following a heavy rainstorm, Valero personnel discovered a light sheen on the storm water within a drainage ditch located along the south side of St. Bernard Highway. Cause may be an underground pipe.
Adsorbent boom was laid in the ditch and a vacuum truck was dispatched to remove as much of the sheen from the water surface as possible. The mixture picked up by the vacuum truck was transferred to the refinery for separation and treatment. There were no known leaks or spills in the area during this period. Subsequent inspections, conducted during both dry and wet weather conditions, revealed no new sheen in the ditch. It is unknown whether the sheen originated from Valero property, other nearby properties, or the adjacent highway. Another letter from Valero was sent on August 21, 2013 wishing to rescind the notification for the incident due to none of the reporting criteria of LAC 33:I. 3915-3939 are applicable to this case.
150231

2013-08-08
Point Source(s):
#2 SRU

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 5,779 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide - 16 pounds
Cause of Problem: Equipment Failure

Valero experienced excess emissions of SO2 and H2S at the #2 Sulfur Recovery Unit (SRU) and several refinery fuel gas-fired sources due to an unexpected shutdown at the #2 SRU. Valero Maintenance personnel were in a satelite equipment building to replace a cooling fan on the Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS). When an electrician opened the cabinet to identify the cooling fan, the UPS shut down and power was lost to several key fueling-gas valves on the #2 Sulfur Recovery Unit (SRU). The valves moved to their fail safe position (shut) and the #2 SRU shutdown.
The electrician manually restored power to the #2 SRU fuel gas valves via the manual bypass switch on the UPS. After the Shutdown of the #2 SRU, Valero cut stripping to the #1 Ademine Unit to prevent acid gas flaring. This eventually resulted in increased Sulfur Dioxide emissions from heaters due to elevated hydrogen sulfide in the fuel gas system. The static switch control card was replaced and the UPS was returned to service approximately two hours after it had failed. Valero will also evaluate the following actions to further decrease the likelihood of re occurrence: 1) Replacing the UPS with a newer, more reliable model, 2) Changing out the 120 VAC fuel gas valves to 24 VDC valves that are then powered by the more reliable Distributed Control System (DCS) power supplies. Performing a test of the DCS power supply.
150026

2013-07-30
Point Source(s):
Pressure safety valve in Hydrocracker Unit

Pollutant(s):
Hydrogen Sulfide - BRQ
Hydrogen - 0
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) - BRQ
Cause of Problem: Process Upset

On 7/30/2013, SPOC received a citizen complaint of black smoke released due to flaring from Valero-Meraux. The environmental manager stated that flaring had occurred at the time of the complaint. The flaring (north flare) was a result of a mixture of primarily hydrogen and some VOC's released by a pressure safety valve on the hydrocracker unit. The flaring continued for 16 hours when processes were stabilized at the ROSE unit.
LDEQ took no further action
149430

2013-06-29
Point Source(s):


Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - BRQ
Cause of Problem: Instrument Failure

On June 29, 2013, the sulfur analyzer started reading heightened amount of SO2 releasing although all sources indicate normal SO2 levels, no units were in upset, and no flames were at flare.
Rescinded notification made for SERC incident #13-02879 on 6/29/13. The initial notification was made based on erroneous data provided by malfunctioning analyzer. No RQs exceeded. Analyzer has been fixed. Facility would like to rescind the notification made on 6/29/13.
149379

2013-06-12
Point Source(s):
KOH Treater Pressure Safety Valve, Benzene Reduction Unit

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - BRQ
Cause of Problem: Under Investigation

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)was being transferred to a crude KOH treater from a pressure vessel. The resulting pressure increase at the KOH Treater caused a pressure safety valve (PSV) to open and the LPG was directed to the north flare. The flow of LPG to the flare caused a larger than normal flare to occur, whether or not the PSV should have opened is still under investigation. During this same period and into 6/13/13 the Benzene Reduction Unit (BRU) was re-starting after being shut down for several weeks. The process also supplied gas to the north flare.
Investigation prompted by citizen complaint.
148777

2013-05-20
Point Source(s):
None Reported
Pollutant(s):
Cause of Problem: Maintenance/Procedures

Loud noise due to depressurizing the HCU due to a previous incident that occurred on 5/17/13 (LDEQ #148798). Operations directed as much material as possible to other process units. However, to complete the depressure process, gas had to be routed to the north flare. The HCU valve heading to the flare cannot be throttled, it is either 'full open' or 'full closed'. Between the high gas flows to the flare, and what they believe to be excessive assist steam, a deep, helicopter - like noise emanated from that flare.
No information given about release of chemicals
148798

2013-05-17
Point Source(s):
North Flare, #2 and #3 SRU, Heaters, Reboilers

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 2,708 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide - 10 pounds
Cause of Problem: Maintenance/Procedures

On May 17, 2013 at approximately 15:43, Valero experienced excess emissions of Sulfur Dioxide at the North Flare, the #2 and #3 Sulfur Recovery Units, and several refinery fuel gas-fired sources due to an unexpected shutdown of the #3 SRU. The #3 SRU shut down on high burner pressure caused by a plugged condenser seal leg. After several unsuccessful attempts to unplug and restart the #3 SRU, Valero determined that the unit could not be restarted and completely shut down the unit. The Gas-Oil Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater was also shut down and refinery charge rates were reduced accordingly. Valero opened up the unit for inspection and discovered that catalyst from one of the reactor beds had migrated into the condenser and caused the plugging in the seal legs. Valero could not definitively identify the exact cause of the catalyst migration, but believes that it was most likely due to improper catalyst loading during the last catalyst replacement in 2010.
Valero immediately initiated its sulfur shedding procedure and attempted to unplug the #3 SRU condenser and restart the #3 SRU. Valero transferred as much of the remaining sulfur load to the #2 SRU as the unit's capacity would allow. Before the sulfur shedding procedure reduced the sulfur load to within the capacity of the #2 SRU, hydrogen sulfide entered the refinery fuel gas system and was combusted to sulfur dioxide in the refinery heaters and boilers. Hydrogen sulfide concentrations in the refinery fuel gas system returned to less than the 162 ppm NSPS Subpart J limit at approximately 05:14 on May 18, 2013. To prevent recurrence, Valero reloaded the #3 SRU with new catalyst and ensured that the catalyst was properly loaded and supported with additional support media. Valero plans to install a smaller mesh screen on top of the existing quarter inch screen that currently supports the catalyst bed and support media.
148704

2013-05-12
Point Source(s):


Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 230 pounds
Cause of Problem: Equipment Failure

On May 12, 2013, the net gas compressor was shut down due to a control valve malfunction. The shutdown caused a release of sulfur dioxide to the flare.
Maintenance was called to repair valve. Site was secured at 1600 hours on May 12, 2013. A separate ongoing event, SERC incident #13-01918, continued before, during, and after the Net Gas Compressor shutdown. An incident report for #13-01918 was submitted on 5/10/13. LABB cannot locate the incident report for the aforementioned SERC number.
No LDEQ Number Available

2013-05-03
Point Source(s):
North Flare

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 7,063 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide - 77 pounds
Cause of Problem: Under Investigation

On May 3, 2013 starting at approximately 02;00, Valero experienced excess emissions of Sulfur Dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfide at the North Flare during startup of the Gas Oil Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater Unit (HCU) following a planned maintenance outage and catalyst replacement. Because the catalyst was new, this particular startup include a procedure for sulfiding the catalyst prior to resuming normal operations. Sulfiding consists of circulating the feed in the reactors with an additive chemical to produce H2S, which is then maintained at a high concentration in the Recycle Gas for a period of time to allow the sulfides to deposit on the catalyst. Based on an initial assessment of the available data, excess emissions during the HCU startup are associated with the following: 1. The pressure safety valve (PSV) on the fractionator tower opened to flare. 2. The PSV on the Cold Separator was found to be leaking by the flare. 3. The Recycle Gas Compressor tripped and activated an automatic unit depressurization to flare. 4. The PSV on the Cold Separator opened to the flare. 5. The PSV on the Fractionator Tower opened to flare a second time. This incident is currently under investigation and Valero will submit additional information upon completion.
While the PDF of the attached document bears the LDEQ # 147895, this number is also linked to an incident of a different date (April 5, 2013). Valero reduced pressure to reseat PSV's that had lifted and attempted to stop the leakage on the Cold Separator PSV. Sulfur dioxide estimated at 3131 pounds and hydrogen sulfide estimated at 34 pounds were released during the "start up period" 5/3 02:00 to 5/4/13 22:00. Sulfur dioxide emissions associated with the leaking Cold Separator PSV have continued at approximately 20-30 pounds/hour. As of 08:00 on 5/10/13, an additional 3932 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 43 pounds of hydrogen sulfide are estimated to have been released.
148510

2013-05-03
Point Source(s):
Cold Separator PSV in the Gas Oil Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater Unit

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 10,007 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide - 109 pounds
Cause of Problem: Maintenance/Procedures

On May 3rd 2013, starting at approximately 2:00, Valero experienced excess emissions of sulfur dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfide at the north flare during startup of the gas oil Hyrdocracker/ Hrydrotreater Unit (HCU) following a planned maintenance outage and catalyst replacement. Excess emissions during the HCU startup were associated with the following events: 1. The Pressure Safety Valve (PSV) on the Fractionator Tower opened to the flare 2. The PSV on the cold seperator was found to be opened to the flare 3. The Recycle Gas Compressor (RGC) tripped and activated an automatic unit depressurization to the flare. 4. The PSV on the Cold Seperator Opened to the Flare 5. The PSV on the Fractionator Tower opened to the flare a second time Valero determined the root cause of the PSV actuations to be inadequate startup procedure. Valero determined the root cause of the RGC trip to be an instrument technician lifting the instrument wires for a thermocouple that provided a shutdown interlock. Contributing factors to this root cause were: 1. Neither the operator nor the instrument technician was aware that this thermocouple provided a shutdown interlock 2. The instrument technician did not reference any documentation to verify that this transmitter was a possible Safety Critical Instrument 3. The reference documentation was inadequate 4. The instrument was not labeled in the field as a Safety Critical Instrument contrary to Valero standard procedure 7/2/2013 report states that written notification was submitted on 5/10/2013. This documentation is not available on the LDEQ document database.
Valero reduced pressure to reseat PSVs that had lifted and attempted to stop the leakage on the Cold Separator PSV. Valero shut down the HCU on 5/13/13 and replaced the Cold Separator PSV. Valero will revise HCU startup procedure to include a maximum charge rate limit and maximum Cold Separator pressure limit during sulfiding and also to ensure that the Cold Separator pressure control valve is initially lined up for feed introduction into the unit. Valero repaired the thermocouple and corrected the documentation to reflect that it is a Safety Critical Instrument. Valero has also labeled this instrument in the field. Valero will also finalize a Safety Critical Instrument List in the HCU to provide a reference document for all critical instruments and to label these instruments in the field.
147895

2013-04-05
Point Source(s):
South Flare; #3 SRU; Area 1 Fuel Drum: Boiler B-7, Boiler TB-01, MDH Heaters; Area 2 Fuel Drum: Reformer Charge Heater; Hydrocracker Boilers Fuel Drum: Boiler B-5, Boiler B-6
South Flare; #3 SRU; Area 2 Fuel Drum: Reformer Charge Heater

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 2,417 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide - 10 pounds
Cause of Problem: Power Failure

On April 5, 2013 at approximately 08:47, Valero experienced excess emissions of Sulfur Dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfide at the South Flare, the #3 Sulfur Recovery Unit (SRU), and several refinery fuel gas fired sources due to a loss of power to the refinery's Distributed Control System (DCS). The DCS is a computerized system used to monitor and control the refinery process units. At the time of the incident, the most refinery units were shutdown for planned maintenance, only the Reformer, Naptha Hydrotreater (NHT), MiddleDistillate Hydrotreater (MDH), #3 SRU, and the four boilers remained in service. In order to perform work on the electrical distribution system, a temporary generator was installed to power vital loads, including the DCS. Additionally, the DCS Uniterruptible Power Supplies (UPSs) were bypassed for protection so that battery backup was not available. This temporary power generator dropped offline due to loss of communications between the generator and the engine driving the generator. The root cause of the loss of communications was a loose termination connection on a communications cable. The loss of the DCS caused the immediate shutdown of the remaining refinery units. Upon shutdown of the #3 SRU, field operators cut stripping steam to the #2 Amine unit to prevent acid gas flaring. This allowed some H2S to enter the refinery fuel gas system which was then combusted to SO2 as the fired sources were returned to service. The bulk of the SO2 emissions came from the actuation of a Pressure Safety Valve in the MDH that vented H2S containing material to the South Flare.
The DCS was restored in less that 25 minutes. Valero restarted all four boilers, the #3 SRU, and the MDH. The Reformer Charge Heater was re-lit as part of a controlled shutdown and the NHT was shutdown. SO2 emissions from the North Flare occurred on 4/5/13 from 08:47 to 4/5/13 22:51 for a duration of 14.1 hours (14 hours and 6 minutes). An estimated 2417 pounds of SO2 and 10 pounds of H2S were released. Power to the DCS was quickly restored and the affected units were shutdown in a controlled manner. The rental company technician for the generator quickly identified the loose termination connection as the issue, corrected the loose termination, and placed the generator back online in approximately ten to fifteen minutes. Power to the DCS was quickly restored and the affected units were shutdown in a controlled manner. Valero requested a backup generator from the rental company as a spare for the one that had tripped, which arrived later that day.
147349

2013-03-15
Point Source(s):
North Flare

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 1,057 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide - 12 pounds
Cause of Problem: Equipment Design

On March 15, 2013 at approximately 08:40, Valero experienced excess emissions of Sulfur Dioxide at the North Flare during a planned shutdown of the Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater Unit. Valero was conducting a normal shutdown for a planned maintenance turnaround. During start ups and shut downs, H2S containing gases can pass through the Pre-fractionator stripper and accumulate in the Fractionator Overhead Receiver. The Fractionator Overhead Recveiver has no means of removing this gas, so Valero must vent it to the flare to prevent the pressure safety valve from lifting. The root cause of excess sulfur dioxide emissions from the Hydrocracker/hydrotreater during start ups and shutdowns has been identified from previous incidents to be inherent to the original design of the unit.
As a corrective action for previous incidents, Valero designed a vent line that will direct the gases vented from the Fractionator Overhead Receiver to the refinery's HiJet so that these gases will no longer need to be flared during startups and shutdowns. Valero will install this vent line during this maintenance turnaround. SO2 emissions from the North Flare occurred on 3/15/13 from 08:40 to 3/16/13 00:00 for a duration of 15.34 hours (15 hours and 20 minutes). Valero completed the shutdown of the Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater Unit according to procedure. Valero will install the vent line designed to prevent the Fractionator Overhead Receiver from being flared.
147265-147182-147183-147185

2013-03-09
Point Source(s):
NIG

Pollutant(s):
Sulfides - BRQ
Cause of Problem: Maintenance/Procedures

On March 9, 2013, a caller complained of a sulfur like odor. A fire company and a chief reponded ot the area and confirmed the odor, sulfur like and source unknown. The area is right outside of a refinery (Valero) the strongest odors were at Judge Perez and Jacob Dr. Additionally, 3 other complaints were made: 9:55pm on 3/9, 8:09pm on 3/10, 4:30pm at 3/10. All three complaints report an odor. One complaint mentions flaring. On March 9th and 10th, the Meraux Refinery prepared several process units for a planned maintenance turnaround. Process equipment on the Merox Unit was de-inventoried, water-washed, and steamed in preparation for entry. When the wash water and steam condensate was drained to the refinery sewer system, some residual process material (including malodorous reduced-sulfur compounds) volatilized to the atmosphere. This is believed to be the source of the odor complaints received by LDEQ and the refinery. When this drained material reached the refinery's waste water treatment plant, it may have also generated odors from that location. Both flares were operating during this period. The Valero Environmental Manager stated that the flow rate and sulfur content of the flare gas were within normal ranges. No reportable quantity exceedences or emergency conditions resulted from this activity. An LDEQ inspector conducted surveillance of the area on 3/14/13 and did detect an odor at the time of the inspection.
During the cleaning of the equipment on the Meraux Unit in a preparation for entry, the wash water was sent to the treatment plant. Agitation of the water released sulfur containing fumes to the atmosphere. The draining of the wash water was slowed down to prevent the agitation of the fumes. Four separate LDEQ numbers were assigned to this incident and complaints: 147265, 147182, 147183, 147185. When the odors became apparent, draining activity was suspended. Draining was resumed on March 11 at a reduced rate and no further odor complaints were received. Valero will review its turnaround plans to ensure that future drainage events are less likely to contribute to off-site odors.
147203

2013-03-08
Point Source(s):
North Flare

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 564 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide - 6 pounds
Cause of Problem: Maintenance/Procedures

On March 8, 2013, at approximately 01:34, Valero experienced excess emissions of Sulfur Dioxide at the North Flare during the start up of the Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater Unit. On March 5, 2013, Valero discovered an oil leak on an electrical transformer in the Reformer Unit. In order to de-energize and repair the transformer, Valero conducted a controlled shutdown of the refinery. The root cause of excess SO2 emissions from the Hydrocracker/ Hydrotreater during start up has been identified from previous incidents to be inherent to the original design of the unit. The most recent previous incident, SERC Incident # 12-05963, occurred on 9/3/12. As a corrective action for the 9/3/12 incident, Valero designed a vent line that will direct the gases vented from the Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater Fractionator Overhead Receiver to the refinery's HiJet so that these gases will no longer need to be flared during startup. Valero was planning to shutdown the Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater on 3/15/13 and install this vent line prioer to this unplanned shutdown to repair the transformer.
Valero completed the start up of the Hydrocracker according to procedure. Valero will shut down the Hydrocracker/Hydrotreater on 3/15/13 as originally planned and install the vent line designed to prevent the start up gases from being flared.
147091

2013-03-01
Point Source(s):
North Flare

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 746 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide - 8 pounds
Cause of Problem: Equipment Failure

On March 1, 2013 at approximately 16:15, Valero experienced excess emissions of Sulfur Dioxide at the North Flare due to an over-current trip of the East Crude Overhead Compressor. The West Crude Compressor was down for repairs and unavailable. The East Crude Overhead Compressor tripped offline at 15:23 and was started at 16:36. Valero was unable to immediately re-start the East Crude Overhead Compressor due to a 1 hour lockout timer that prevents re-start after tripping on over-current. When the trip occurred, Valero was in the process of shutting down another refinery unit for a planned maintenance outage. Normally, crude off-gas is lined up to this unit. The compressor tripped offline on over-current while Valero was redirecting the crude off-gas to an alternate destination. The pressure at this alternate destination was approximately 60psig higher than the compressor discharge prior to the switch. Valero determined the root cause of the trip to be that the electric motor on the East Crude Compressor was undersized and not capable of routing the crude off-gas to the higher pressure destination when fully loaded. Contributing factors include: 1. The West Crude Compressor was down for repairs and unavailable. 2. The crude tower was operating at elevated pressures due to degradation of the internal structures. This increased the work load (horsepower) on the off-gas compressor. 3. Approximately 40 minutes elapsed between the compressor trip and the reduction in Crude Unit charge rate.
Flaring from the Crude Overhead occurred from 15;23 to 16:38 and the Total Sulfur concentration in the North Flare returned to normal by 17:20. Valero immediately put all available crude overhead fin-fans in service to reduce crude overhead pressure and minimize flaring. Valero later cut crude charge rate to reduce the production of off-gas. Valero re-started the East Crude Overhead Compressor as soon as the lockout timer expired. To prevent recurrence: 1. Valero will upgrade both of the curde compressors with higher horsepower electric motors. 2. Valero will modify the "Loss of Crude Compressor" procedure to specify a more prompt reduction in crude charge rate. 3. Valero will modify the operations procedure for lining up crude off-gas stream to include unloading the compressor to control motor amps also to include running both compressors in parallel (if available). 4. Valero will bring the motor amp indications into the DCS for both compressors.
146706

2013-02-18
Point Source(s):
Chemical injection line
Wastewater Treatment Plant

Pollutant(s):
Wastewater - BRQ
Hydrocarbon - BRQ
Cause of Problem: No Information Given

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."
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.
146616

2013-02-10
Point Source(s):
North Flare, South Flare, Area 1 Fuel Drum, Area 2 Fuel Drum, Area 4 Fuel Drum, HC Heaters Fuel Drum, HC Boilers Fuel Drum, #2 SRU, #3 SRU

Pollutant(s):
Sulfur Dioxide - 93,347 pounds
Hydrogen Sulfide - 304 pounds
Cause of Problem: Power Failure

On February 10, 2013, Valero Refining - Meraux LLC (Valero) experienced excess emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) from all in service refinery heaters and boilers, the #2 and #3 Sulfur Recovery Unit (SRU) Incinerator Stacks, and the North and South Flares due to an unexpected shutdown of the #3 SRU. Shortly after the #3 SRU shut down the #2 SRU tripped offline as well. The #2 and #3 SRUs generated excess emissions due to these shutdowns and the subsequent start ups. Additionally, with both SRUs shutdown, the Amine units became saturated with H2S and were no longer capable of removing H2S from gaseous refinery process streams. As a result, the H2S concentrations in the refinery fuel gas and hydrotreater recycle gas systems began to increase. Elevated concentrations of H2S were then combusted in the refinery's heaters and boilers and in the North and South Flares. Root Causes: 1. Loss of 4160 Volt power to the #3 SRU Main Air Blower and #2 Lean Amine Pump. The investigation identified a 30 second power loss but was unable to identify the exact root cause because the plant power monitoring system was not running at the time. 2. The #2 SRU trip was caused by the failure to switch the acid gas interconnect line control scheme from flow control to pressure control. The episode occurred from approximately 06:42 on 2/10/13 to 01:13 on 2/13/13 for a duration of 66.5 hours.
Valero initiated the Sulfur Shedding Procedure and followed the MACT UUU SSM Plan to recover the #2 and #3 SRUs. Valero received reports of multiple citizen complaints called into the St. Bernard Fire Department. The wind direction of 2/10/13 placed the Valero Community Ambient Monitoring Site downwind of the refinery during the period of highest emissions and mobile ambient monitoring was performed by Valero and a third party. The highest single monitoring reading was 2.8ppm SO2; odors may be detected at this level.
146530

2013-02-08
Point Source(s):
Marine Vapor Recovery (MVR) flare

Pollutant(s):
Natural Gas - BRQ
Cause of Problem: Equipment Failure

A citizen complaint was made citing "flare at the Valero dock very large, visible from Paris Road," on February 8, 2013. LDEQ conducted surveillance of the area on 2/18/13. A large flare was not observed at the time of the inspection. Mr. Justin Stubbe, Manager Environmental Engineering at Valero Refining- Meraux, about events at the facility on 2/8/13. According to the follow-up email attached to the pdf, there was a larger than average flame on the Marine Vapor Recovery (MVR) flare on 2/8/13. A valve positioner malfunctioned, increasing the amount of sweet natural gas that is burned alongside vapors displaced during marine loading. There were no RQ exceedances or emergency conditions. Marine loading was halted and the valve positioner was repaired later that same day. There was no damage to the MVR and loading later resumed.
Marine loading was halted and the valve positioner was repaired later that same day. There was no damage to the MVR and loading later resumed.
146017

2013-01-19
Point Source(s):
None Reported
Pollutant(s):
Cause of Problem: Instrument Failure

A control valve needed adjusting. The problem was made known due to citizen complaint. Two days later, the same valve required adjusting upon notification of complaint.
After being notified of citizen complaint, a facility crew investigated the plant and identified a control valve in the Alky unit as the source of the loud sound being complained of. Adjustments were made to the process to reduce the sound coming from that valve. Another complaint was issued two days later on January 21, 2013 about a high pitched sound currently occurring. The same valve was identified as the source and was adjusted again. Operations personnel were subsequently instructed to keep the flow rate through the valve in a range that should minimize sound being produced by the valve. Investigation as to engineering changes that can be made to the valve to address this issue are underway.