Wednesday, July 20, 2011

oil-water discharges

Reuters reports no flood impact on New Orleans area refineries.

Some oil refineries are allowed to make "emergency discharges" into neighborhood canals to prevent the processing plants from flooding. Instead, the oil companies should be required to increase the plant's storm water capacity.  Rain is a given in Southeast Louisiana.

The Spill, Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan and the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans could include containment berms around storm water basins, or "ponds", and additional storm water storage tank capacity, so the oil refineries do not foul the neighborhood canals and nearby Central Wetlands.

The Murphy Oil Meraux refinery is permitted under its NPDES/LPDES to store oily-water or process water in its storm water ponds during rain events. According to WWL-TV New Orleans, the nearby Chalmette High School rain gauge measured 5.34 inches of rain the morning of July 18 2011 and measured over 8 inches of rain by the 10pm newscast.

Without berms, the storm water ponds reach capacity sooner, and the Murphy Oil Meraux refinery is permitted to make an "emergency" discharge into the neighborhood canals known as the 20 arpent canal and the Meraux canal. These canals meander throughout several neighborhoods before discharging into the sensitive Central Wetlands of Lake Borgne. The refinery could avoid the situation by planning for rain with berms and additional storage tank capacity. At present, it seems the Murphy Oil Meraux refinery LPDES permit identifies only two storm water tanks, which based on compliance history, are inadequate.

NOTE:  Unable to verify through Louisiana DEQ if in fact Murphy Oil made such an emergency discharge on July 18, 2011. What has been found is a report to the National Response Center concerning an oil sheen and use of booms in the 20 arpent canal.

The weather forecast later this week:   Cloudy with a chance of oil

Murphy Oil Meraux refinery uses sandbags instead of berms around the storm water ponds, which receive oily-water or process water during rain events.  Photo December 2009

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