August 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm #2152
CHS responsible for Billings’ bad smell Wednesday morning
By CLAIR JOHNSON and ROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff
The Billings Gazette | Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 11:22 am
The release of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere early Wednesday morning by the CHS Inc. refinery in Laurel was not enough to cause health problems, said Duane Winslow, director of Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services.
The heavy stench hanging in the air around the Billings area was caused by an accidental release of sulfur dioxide “during a unit start-up following a maintenance procedure,” CHS spokeswoman Lani Jordan said in a statement.
“As a result, the refinery exceeded its permitted limit for sulfur dioxide emissions during this time,” the statement read. “The issue has been corrected, and all appropriate regulatory agencies have been notified.”
Sulfur dioxide is a colorless gas that can have a pungent odor. The gas is produced by burning fossil fuels, like oil, and can make breathing difficult for asthmatics and other health problems.
Air monitors at both RiverStone Health in Billings and CHS in Laurel showed sulfur dioxide levels in the area did not reach dangerous levels, Winslow said.
He also said he had been in contact with Billings’ two hospitals and neither reported checking in patients with health concerns related to sulfur dioxide.
Because there was relatively little wind Wednesday morning, “it just kind of lingered over the valley,” Winslow said.
Bob Gallagher, of the Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Resources Management Bureau, said CHS reported the release as required.
CHS said it exceeded its hourly sulfur dioxide emissions limit while starting up a crude unit. A flame in an incinerator stack went out from lack of enough air, releasing the pollutant, Gallagher said.
The refinery did not quantify how much sulfur dioxide pollution got released or for how long, Gallagher said. CHS reported that the release began sometime after dark.
CHS has one week to file a written report, he said.
Gallagher said he did not receive any complaints, but that others in the department may have received calls
August 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm #4962
Seems to be lot sulfur release going on at coking refineries like the SO2 @ CHS Laurel Refinery & H2S @ BP Whiting Refinery.
August 30, 2011 at 9:25 am #4959
The release at the CHS plant was in the Crude unit. It had nothing to do with the coker.
August 30, 2011 at 10:16 am #4958
If the flare went out, they released hydrogen sulfide, not sulfur dioxide, why are they talking about SO2?
August 31, 2011 at 12:25 am #4955
Guest – RE reference to coking refineries.
Neither I nor news item suggested the sluphur release was in coker unit. I Merely pointed out that the refineries reporting most of these sulfur release issues were coking refineries.
Since coking refineries often process heavier crude with higher sulfur levels it is logical to assume they would have higher loading on sulfur units than cracking or simple refineries of same crude capacity.
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