WHITING BP officials said a Tuesday morning breach in a seal on a unit compressor caused it to leak hydrogen sulphide, leading to the evacuation of hundreds of outside contractors. No one was hurt, officials said.
BP spokesman Brad Etlin said workers were repairing the seal and hoped to have it fixed soon.
Etlin said sulfur is naturally occurring in raw crude oil and hydrogen is added during processing, creating H2S. H2S is then converted to elemental sulfur which is sold for agricultural and other uses.
Tony Williams, a laborer for Superior Construction, had just arrived at the plant about 5:30 a.m.
We got off the bus and put our gear on and a horn went off. They said we had to go home, said Williams, of Gary. Buses came outside the gates and picked us up. Etlin said a monitor showing increased levels of hydrogen sulphide at the refinery brought about the evacuation.
Etlin said elevated levels of the chemical were detected by a single fixed monitor within the refinery at about 5 a.m.. At that point, he said non-essential contractors near the monitor were dismissed. He did not indicate how many workers were evacuated. There is no indication of elevated hydrogen sulphide levels outside of refinery, he said.