Refinery’s Hydrogen Cyanide Leak Fixed

Thursday, October 27, 2011 @ 07:10 PM gHale

The leak causing higher than usual hydrogen cyanide emissions at the Delaware City, DE, refinery since Oct. 2 is now repaired, said PBF Energy spokesperson Mike Gayda.

The refinery began filing reports with the National Response Center earlier this month when one of their boilers cracked and had to shut down for repair. This caused up to 200 pounds of the chemical to release each day.

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“It is unusual for us to emit anything but trace levels,” Gayda said.

Since the refinery does not have permits to emit this much hydrogen cyanide, they have to file the reports, Gayda said.

“Based on an analysis of the emissions, DNREC does not consider there to be a threat to public health,” said Michael Globetti, a spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “Even at its source within the refinery, the HCN now being released is exponentially less than the permissible threshold for exposure allowed under federal law.”

In a report filed Oct. 23, an unidentified caller told the National Response Center a CO Boiler on the FCC unit blew a hole in the line causing a release of hydrogen cyanide and the unit shut down for repair.

A low level concentration that is about 10 parts per million emitted into the air, Gayda said.

He compared this to a drop of soy sauce in a pot of water.

“The highest concentration of HCN was projected to occur approximately three-fourths of a mile from the source at a concentration of 3 parts per billion,” Globetti said. “By comparison, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s permissible exposure level to HCN without adverse effects is 10 parts per million.”

On Oct. 2, the first report submitted to the NRC said the “CO Boiler on the FCC unit blew a hole in the line causing a release of carbon sulfide and hydrogen cyanide into the air,” emitting only a trace amount of the chemicals.

Gayda said there was no “high level” and a person can work all day in the area without feeling the affect.

He said other facilities emit much greater levels of hydrogen cyanide on a routine basis.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act requires refineries have to notify the National Response Center if they release hazardous substances in excess of reportable amounts.

DNREC expects a carbon monoxide boiler whose outage at the refinery led to the HCN release to be back in operation within days, following repairs, Globetti said. They will investigate the boiler outage in accordance with DNREC’s standard practices.

The Delaware City refinery reopened Oct. 7 after shutting down for nearly two years.

The refinery is a high conversion heavy crude oil refinery, with capabilities of processing 190,000 barrels per day. It is on 5,000 acres of land near the Delaware River.

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