Public Lab Research note


monitoring industrial H2S sources in new orleans area

by eustatic | August 06, 2012 19:53 | 2,364 views | 1 comments | #3151 | 2,364 views | 1 comments | #3151 06 Aug 19:53

Read more: stable.publiclab.org/n/3151


In an effort to develop a protocol for 'rapid-response' H2S monitoring for human use, we have been putting strips out in wetlands.

Degraded wetlands are often sources of "Rotten Egg" smell, which indicates H2S, often mixed with other sulfuric compounds --SOx and VOSCs. So the perennially mis-managed and ecologically confused Spanish Lake, halfway to Baton Rouge, may be a better candidate for H2S detection trials than Bayou Sauvage.

But the eventual use of these strips / Draeger tubes should be industrial sources.

Recently, there have been more reports of large flares. last week. Earlier this year, NORCO had large flares (ATV picture), as well as the DOW chemical plant in Plaquemine (second picture, Jeffrey Dubinsky)

From Jay Collingham, LA Bucket Brigade, on the most recent NORCO flare:

"Flares continued consistently for twelve days without any community notification. On several days, citizens reported flaring while the refinery did not report accidents to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality or National Response Center. Some reports stated that the flare fluctuated between 20 and 100 feet in height. While these violations are reprehensible by themselves, the duration of flaring exceeds the permissible time in a month under the refineries permit. The quantity of chemical exposure that is experienced by fence line neighbors and downwind residents increases the chances of disease.

A week earlier, residents reported enormous flares at this refinery beginning on June 15th and continuing on the 17th. Some observations were made from nearly twenty miles away and flames were distinctly visible from eight miles north. The NRC was not provided with reports of flaring, accident, or upset for these events.

Two local residents have stated by email that they witnessed flares on the four days with no reports of flaring but do not have photographs of the flare on those days."

----------One thing to attempt to figure out, is how typical these events are of our gulf coast rusting refineries. Should we get ready before storm events? Should we budget and plan around neglected maintenance schedules?

As such, there are a number of approaches to preparing to deploy an "artifical nose" like the one we are developing.

I can think of two off the bat:

1) monitor skytruth alerts, an RSS feed of National Response Center

Scott has an email alert via this system, as well as a backlog of all events in a Gulf Area, via RSS here: http://alerts.skytruth.org/rss?l=25.3341:-94.5813:31.6066:-86.8909

a search of this feed for "Hydrogen Sulfide" yielded 15 hits since November 2011, 5 are from NORCO in 9 months, and one from Chalmette Refinery. Reports of these events are slim, and downplayed. The official, self- reported numbers are untrustworthy.

Here are examples: http://www.nrc.uscg.mil/reports/rwservlet?standard_web+inc_seq=996303

http://www.nrc.uscg.mil/reports/rwservlet?standard_web+inc_seq=1007713

Note that Wind direction and speed are supposed to be reported, but rarely are.

2) Work with local groups in the line of fire with the sensor. such as local groups in NORCO, Ironton, or Murphy oil (now Valero). Some people already work with LA bucket brigade, others would be independent, all would require organizing work above what is currently conducted.

But even the second option could benefit from increased reporting and use of the National Response Center. Not only for notification reasons, but for legal reasons.

Here are weather stations close to NORCO and Chalmette Refineries:

KLA NORCO 2 http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KLANORCO2&day=06&month=08&year=2012

4 years of data here

KLA BELLE is the closest station to Chalmette. There is a need for a location weather station.

http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KLABELLE5&day=06&month=08&year=2012

There is not a long history of data in this location, but there is an online sensor for H2S that Valero recently installed...


1 Comments

NORCO events:

link: http://alerts.skytruth.org/subscribe?l=30.058373953619%2C-90.362345326402%2C29.958373953619%2C-90.482345326402

Report Details NRC Report ID: 1019866 Incident Time: 2012-08-03 08:39:00 Nearest City: Norco, LA Location: NORCO, LA 15536 RIVER ROAD Incident Type: FIXED Material: HYDROGEN SULFIDE Medium Affected: LAND Suspected Responsible Party: SHELL CHEMICAL SkyTruth Analysis Lat/Long: 30.017524, -90.417505 (Approximated from ZIP) Report Description WHILE PERFORMING A MAINTENANCE ACTIVITY ON A PUMP, APPROXIMATELY 2 BARRELS OF BLENDED PYROLYSIS PITCH WAS RELEASED TO A CONCRETE FLOOR.

NRC Report ID: 996303 Incident Time: 2011-11-22 20:30:00 Nearest City: Norco, LA Incident Type: FIXED Material: HYDROGEN SULFIDE Medium Affected: AIR Suspected Responsible Party: MOTIVA ENTERPRISES SkyTruth Analysis Lat/Long: 30.008374, -90.422345 (Approximated from ZIP) Report Description THE CALLER STATED THAT A FLANGE STARTED LEAKING WHICH RESULTED IN MATERIAL TO BE VENTED TO THE ATMOSPHERE.

NRC Report ID: 996033 Incident Time: 2011-11-20 07:27:00 Nearest City: Norco, LA Incident Type: FIXED Material: PROPANE Medium Affected: AIR Suspected Responsible Party: SHELL CHEMICAL MOTIVA SkyTruth Analysis Lat/Long: 30.007370, -90.423394 (Approximated from ZIP) Report Description CALLER IS REPORTING A RELEASE OF BENZENE,1.3 BUTADIENE, NITROGEN OXIDE, CARBON MONOXIDE, ETHANE, ETHYLENE, HYDROGEN, 1-PENTENE, TOLUENE, HYDROGEN SULFIDE, VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS, PROPYLENE, PROPANE, AND METHANE INTO THE ATMOSPHERE. CALLER STATED THAT A COMPRESSOR TRIPPED ON A UNIT AND CAUSED A FLARING EVENT. CALLER STATED THAT THE COMPRESSOR TRIPPED DUE TO REACHING HIGHER LEVELS.

NRC Report ID: 995976 Incident Time: 2011-11-19 07:00:00 Nearest City: Norco, LA Incident Type: STORAGE TANK Material: BENZENE Medium Affected: AIR Suspected Responsible Party: VALERO ST. CHARLES REFINERY SkyTruth Analysis Lat/Long: 30.010526, -90.423784 (Approximated from ZIP) Report Description CALLER IS REPORTING THAT HYDROGEN SULFIDE, VOC'S AND BENZENE ARE RELEASING FROM A TANK SEAL ON A STORAGE TANK. THIS IS POSSIBLY DUE TO THE SEAL BEING DAMAGED WHILE CONDUCTING A UNIT START UP.

NRC Report ID: 994480 Incident Time: 2011-11-03 21:05:00 Nearest City: Norco, LA Incident Type: FIXED Material: BENZENE Medium Affected: AIR Suspected Responsible Party: SHELL CHEMICAL MOTIVA SkyTruth Analysis Lat/Long: 30.011656, -90.415294 (Approximated from ZIP) Report Description INCOMING FEED FROM A DISTANT FACILITY IS HIGH IN HYDROGEN SULFIDE. THIS REQUIRES THE MATERIAL TO BE FLARED BECAUSE IT IS OFF-SPEC.

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