Monday, November 16, 2015
surface water and storage tank issues
Troubles in the tank farm were mentioned again in a recent report noting leaked oil from piping in the former footprint of storage tank, Tank 250-3. This oil spill affected at least two egrets, according to Valero Energy’s report to Louisiana DEQ in a public document (EDMS 9962291).
Tank 250-3 was demolished by Valero Energy in 2012. However on September 29 2015 a sheen, stained soil, and two oiled egrets were reportedly observed around the section of pipe once connected to the tank. Clearing nearby vegetation revealed an intermittent leak that exceeded “Reportable Quantity”. It is unclear how long the pipe was leaking; however, residents have repeatedly reported to LDEQ strong and distinct fuel and diesel odors during rain events.
This is not the first time overgrown vegetation was noted as presumably concealing problems that perhaps should have otherwise been detected during required inspections. In May 2015 adjacent neighbors reported the refinery flooding their backyards. Upon inspection, after “clearing significant vegetation”, a breach was found on the east side of the refinery pond and the damage was attributed to burrowing nutria (EDMS 9778750).
Valero Energy’s Meraux refinery was recently cited by LDEQ for not performing required monthly tank inspections from April 2014 through June 2015 (EDMS 9963957). A 2014 LDEQ inspection at the adjacent terminal and dock found Valero Energy failed for three years to conduct annual interior float roof inspections (EDMS 9845166).
During a rain event in June 2015, Valero reported discharging nearly 7,000 gallons waste water into the neighborhood canal due to a power outage (EDMS 9811488). This neighborhood canal, known as the 40 arpent canal, is frequently fished by residents, and is slated in the new master land use plan for recreational use, including kayaking and canoes, and fishing piers. Other unauthorized discharges and reports from more recent rain events in late Summer and early Fall 2015 --- if any --- along with water samplings have not yet posted to LDEQ EDMS. Heavy rains are expected again this week.
Valero’s predecessor, Murphy Oil, agreed in August 2015 to a settlement with the State of Louisiana for just under $23,000 in fines for the December 9 2009 release of oily water into the same neighborhood canal, the 40 arpent. The 40 arpent is pumped into the adjacent Central Wetlands, which is home to sensitive estuaries and marsh. The $22,988 amount is said to represent the DEQ’s enforcement costs; nothing was proposed to improve neither the water quality nor the quality of life in the surrounding community. Lessons learned or business as usual ??
Valero Energy’s report for the Sept 29 2015 spill zone states that six days after the initial discover, during the evening of October 4th, a small cofferdam was completed around the leak, containing the release. A clamp was also installed, greatly reducing flow. A larger, engineered clamp was being fabricated with expected installation mid October. It is unclear how long the pipe was leaking; however, residents have repeatedly reported to LDEQ strong and distinct fuel and diesel odors during rain events.
From the LDEQ EDMS document: The pipe in question was partially submerged by rainwater that had accumulated in the footprint of the former Tank 250-3. Solid boom was deployed to prevent the oil from spreading. Fire fighting foam and hydrocarbon metabolizing enzymes were applied to stained areas to minimize volatilization and odor. Oil was removed from the water with skimmer and vacuum trucks.
The pond was pumped down and the water transferred to the Refinery’s wastewater treatment plant. A small cofferdam was constructed to isolate the leaking pipe from the larger pond. Once the pipe was fully exposed a clamp was installed over the leak. This greatly reduced the rate of the leak. A larger, engineered clamp was being fabricated. Installation expected later that week (mid October 2015).
Oil staining was observed on two egrets that had landed in the affected spill zone. Bird deterrent flashing posts were installed to prevent further contact. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was contacted and two bird specialists were sent to the refinery. They recommended that one of the birds be captured and cleaned. As of October 6 2015 attempts to capture the bird have been unsuccessful.
There were no notifications made to the nearby neighborhood. Valero reported there were no offsite impacts.
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