Friday, November 16, 2012

Power Outages at Valero Energy

2012 power outages


Valero's Meraux refinery has reported several power outages in 2012 that resulted in emergency flaring releases to-date of over 23,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide over the permitted amounts.

On May 2, 2012, although Valero reported a release of only 2,100 pounds of sulfur dioxide, Valero's air monitor on Ventura Drive in Chalmette measured sulfur dioxide levels in the neighborhood's air at 120 parts per billion SO2, well over the EPA sulfur health standard of 75 ppb SO2. No alerts were sent forth to residents.

Incident 139318 EDMS 8431647

In the July 21, 2012 startup from a downed electrical transformer, Valero's air monitor on Ventura Drive measured hydrogen sulfide at 78 ppb H2S. Valero has reported an estimated pollution release of 1,830 pounds SO2 and 19 pounds hydrogen sulfide. Louisiana doesnot have a health standard for hydrogen sulfide; the State of California limits air quality to 30 ppb H2S.Incident 141430 EDMS 8482465



April 10, 2012 Valero reported a faulty transfer switch at the power company's substation resulted in total refinery-wide power interruption. The refinery lost all power, didnot have radios or telephones to communicate and had only emergency backup lights. The "emergency" pollution releases continued for over 94 hours . Valero's initial sulfur emission estimates of 4,000 pounds were later revised to 15,199 pounds SO2 and 135 pounds hydrogen sulfide.  The DEQ 'Meraux' Site monitor measured sulfur dioxide levels at 21 ppb.   Incident 138647 EDMS 8469365

( Initial estimate EDMS 8459094 )

April 2, 2012 Valero reported a lightning strike tripped the charge pump on the hydrocracker unit, causing the safety shutdown of the unit and subsequent startup. Estimated pollution releases were reported as: 4,500 pounds sulfur dioxide and 49 pounds of hydrogen sulfide. Incident 13850 EDMS 8424052


Link to Valero's Ventura Drive monitor:
Link to DEQ's Site Data monitors, select "Meraux"


Link to Valero's Ventura Drive air toxin sample results


Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

So, I would tell everyone in NY and NJ to keep the faith.

"We are holding you up in prayer in your darkest moments. We have walked in your shoes. Keep your chin up. Take it day by day. And, don’t ever forget NOLA loves y’all!”
The photos are moving and the project is ongoing. Here are some of those that have been collected so far:


Believe in your neighborhood!
From Heather:

“I am a 5th generation New Orleanian. My family has weathered many floods and even yellow fever. But, Katrina took every ounce of strength for us to rebuild. I was living back at my child hood home at the time the storm hit trying to get my fledging business off the ground. It is located in Metairie, a suburb about 20 minutes outside of New Orleans. My parent’s home was flooded with over a foot of water from Katrina. I ended up being evacuated to Tulsa, Oklahoma to stay with my sister’s family. One of my dogs that had evacuated with me died in Oklahoma within a week of the hurricane hitting. It was a devastating loss which still lives with me today. I cried tears so hard while evacuated that sometimes I couldn’t breathe. And, a deep depression settled over me until I was able to return home. My business is my very own love letter to New Orleans. It is based upon my NOLA photography. So, I knew my body of work was more relevant than ever after Katrina. I had to get back HOME. I was gone from my beloved New Orleans for over 3 months. When I returned it was encouragement from friends, family and customers that held me together emotionally. And, my photography became my Post Katrina therapy. So, I would tell everyone in NY and NJ to keep the faith. Try to be patient with yourself and those around you. Please remember your recovery is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Change will not come overnight. Be ready for twists and turns as the recovery unfolds. And, if you need to talk to someone, do it! Don’t bottle your emotions up. If you want to fall to your knees and cry, do it! Your loss is palpable and it’s okay to cry your eyes out till they are red and bloodshot. Not only does your neighborhood have to recover, YOU will have to heal from this tragic loss. Lastly, remember this: When you think the nation has moved on in the days of 24 hour cable news, think again. New Orleans intimately knows your pain and we are thinking of each of you in the long term. We are holding you up in prayer in your darkest moments. We have walked in your shoes. Keep your chin up. Take it day by day. And, don’t ever forget NOLA loves y’all!”
Photo courtesy of Heather


Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Air Quality St Bernard Parish

The EPA recommended daily exposure to hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is 1.4 parts per billion (ppb) (0.0014 ppm)  and was exceeded throughout the month.…..inhaling more than this concentration on a daily basis poses an appreciable risk of deleterious effects. . "Exposure to lower concentrations can result in eye irritation, a sore throat and cough, nausea, shortness of breath, and fluid in the lungs." "Long-term, low-level exposure may result in fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory, and dizziness."

The State of California air quality standard limits ambient levels of hydrogen sulfide to 30 ppb H2S. The State of Louisiana has does not have such a standard. Hydrogen sulfide levels in Chalmette Vista exceeded 30 ppb H2S in October 2012, with the highest reading at 53 ppb H2S. 

Other States have lower hydrogen sulfide air quality limits.
Other states

The EPA health standard for sulfur dioxide is 75 ppb SO2. The Louisiana DEQ has stated Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) at the 12 ppb SO2 level triggers headaches and other adverse effects.

The health standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is 35 ug/m3. This standard was exceeded already in October 2012, according to the three community monitors.
Air Quality in October in St Bernard Parish


St Bernard Parish three ambient air monitors shown above

Above graph of location of the three community ambient air monitors along with the former monitor locations on the west bank of the river and the local High School.  The former locations were used for a LDEQ air quality study when the sulfur limit was 140 ppb SO2.  Now it is 75 ppb SO2.

In addition to the three community monitors, other air sample results are available at the Valero Ventura Drive site, under documents .  Some of these Valero air sample results are linked below.
Some refineries post real-time fenceline data, like here at a Phillips refinery.  Notice the larger "green belt" buffer in the photo.  

Valero Ventura Drive Sample date -- analyzed date

10/07/2012 sample analyzed 10/12/2012
10/01/2012 sample analyzed 10/11/2012
9/25/2012 sample analyzed 10/3/2012
9/19/2012 sample analyzed 9/24/2012
9/13/2012 sample analyzed 9/20/2012
9/07/2012 sample analyzed 9/18/2012
9/01/2012 sample analyzed 9/13/2012

Excess emissions 2012 2nd Quarter

Excess emissions 2012 1st Quarter

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