February 11, 2008 at 3:10 pm #3797
DELAWARE: Refinery power outage, fires cause pollution problems
By Jeff Montgomery The News Journal Feb 10, 2008
DELAWARE CITY — High winds triggered a power failure and two small fires at Valero’s Delaware City refinery late Sunday, triggering refinery-wide disruptions and shutdowns today across much of the 210,000 barrel-per-day complex.
Valero said in a prepared statement that none of its workers were injured during the fire and subsequent problems.
The shutdowns led to intermittent use of open-air incinerators, or flares, to burn off excess hydrocarbon and acid gases. Flaring can release thousands of pounds of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants each hour.
Valero also was forced to divert some gases directly to the atmosphere from a petroleum coke refining unit, producing noticeable smoke and odors as late as mid-day.
One Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control official described the shutdowns and emissions releases as a “huge incident” early this afternoon. Both Valero and state officials said they were investigating.
“We are still evaluating the emissions contained in the flare,” Valero said in a statement released this morning. “What was most visible coming from the refinery was steam due to the cold weather.”
February 11, 2008 at 3:18 pm #7050
Valero had a power failure & 2 small fires connected to plant & the fluid coker. (It appears from comments the large amounts of visible steam was being called “pollution” by some of the observers – a common problem with public/reporters.)
But the power failure, fires, fluid coker & incident may say that GE isn’t doing much better job than Texaco had in getting the Delaware “Texaco Gasification” power unit to perform as designed. The problems around this unit led to fines for Motiva even after the refinery was sold to Valero & “exposure” led to Texaco selling its Gasification technology to GE who had been providing the turbines in their Gasification projects & had experience with other non-petcoke gasification applications.
This kind of repeated on-going trouble could put Delaware on the same auction block as current Aruba, Memphis, Krotz Springs, Houston, and Ardmore refineries are. The relationship between Motiva, and the collective – stale & local officials and public, prior to their sale to Valero ,had become almost as toxic as the emissions. And all have made it clear that Valero gets no grace period correcting the problems.
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