Process Upset Leads to MS Refinery Spill

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 @ 10:10 AM gHale

There was an oil spill at the Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula, MS, said officials at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

Around 10,000 gallons of an oil product spilled sometime before midnight last Thursday, said a MDEQ inspector. Chevron contained the hydrocarbon product in a ditch on its property, and there’s little risk to air or water exposure, he said.

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“Chevron is in the process of picking it up with vacuum trucks and putting it back into the process system,” said Ernie Shirley, MDEQ’s enforcement chief.

Shirley said Chevron reported the spill to MDEQ around midnight. Exactly what happened is under investigation. Shirley described the incident as “a process upset.”

“There was a problem with the regular refining process, and liquid material that was supposed to go one place went another place and overflowed at the flare stacks onto the ground and collected in a ditch,” Shirley said.

The ditch connects to several small retention ponds on the Chevron property which can end up used for firefighting and water treatment at the plant. Though those ponds eventually could connect to the gulf, Shirley said the risk is minimal.

“We expect them to keep this on their property,” Shirley said.

This spill is the second incident at Chevron in weeks. Last month, the roof on a storage tanker partially collapsed, spilling approximately 4 million gallons of hydrocarbon material and releasing gasoline fumes into the air prompting complaints from residents and requiring additional air monitoring outside the plant.

Chevron released this statement:

“The Chevron Pascagoula Refinery experienced an internal spill of hydrocarbons late Thursday night. Refinery teams responded and the leak was immediately contained.

“The spilled material contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Refinery safety specialists have conducted air monitoring within the refinery throughout the event response, with the results confirming there is no danger to community.”

“The Refinery has notified and will continue to coordinate with all appropriate local, state and federal agencies.”