Refinery Upsets Rage for Second Day

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 @ 03:02 PM gHale


The Delaware City Refinery suffered a second day of major refining unit upsets Monday, with releases of sulfur dioxide gas from emergency-disposal flare burnoffs estimated at 28,000 pounds.

Monday’s troubles affected the plant’s catalytic cracking unit, a more than 80,000-barrel-per-day system that produces gasoline from partially refined crude oil.

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Electrical systems for pumps associated with the unit failed during maintenance preparations, said refinery owner PBF Energy spokeswoman Lisa Lindsey. Both were back in service shortly after 4 p.m. Monday, and Lindsey said workers were returning the plant to normal service.

On Sunday, troubles in the plant’s 54,500-barrel-per-day coking unit and a related pollution-control system sent odors, soot and other pollutants blowing across Delaware City, prompting a large number of complaints.

Sulfur dioxide is a respiratory irritant often found in urban smog. It can tie into forming acid rain and toxic soot. Federal regulators have tightly controlled releases of the pollutant from refinery flares in recent years. State and federal regulators also required the plant’s previous owners to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on sulfur emission-control systems, after determining the Delaware City plant’s biggest units were among the largest refinery emitters of sulfur dioxide nationwide.

The single-day releases by the plant on Monday exceeded 50 percent of the total annual sulfur-dioxide emissions that can trigger a factory’s ranking as a major source of the pollutant under federal rules.

PBF Energy purchased the shuttered Delaware City operation in 2010 and resumed full production last year. The plant can process 210,000 barrels of oil daily.



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