Officials: Heavy flaring at Chalmette Refinery was accident - not routine

Published: Mar. 11, 2018 at 9:05 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 12, 2018 at 8:23 PM CDT
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CHALMETTE, LA (WVUE) - The heavy flaring at the Chalmette Refinery Saturday night that lit up the sky around 11:15 p.m. was the result of an accident during a turnaround project and was not routine, according to a spokesperson with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The spokesperson adds that the project resulted in a number of flares being shut down. During the project a malfunction with a compressor caused it to trip and shut down. As a result of this, emissions were re-routed to the one large flare.

According to plant officials, the flaring came from a safety device that was designed to safely combust hydrocarbons. Personnel at the refinery said they notified the appropriate officials and agencies, but DEQ said they were not informed of the incident until after it had happened.

Refinery officials said the plant continues to operate according to plan and they apologized to surrounding residents for any inconvenience caused by the flaring.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Ellison-Frost issued the following statement:

We are aware of the community interest in the heavy flaring that occurred at the Chalmette Refinery around 11:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 10th, and are providing this statement as an update. As we are conducting a maintenance turnaround, one of our primary flares is currently out of service. During Saturday night's event, the flare that was in service safely combusted the hydrocarbon material.  Third party community monitoring was performed during the flaring, and all results were below detectable readings.  Since this unplanned event, the refinery has continued to operate according to plan.

At Chalmette Refinery, we take seriously our commitment to safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible operations.  We launched an investigation after the incident occurred, and have updated local officials and agencies.  We are truly sorry for any concerns the flaring incident may have caused our neighbors.

Earlier in the week, St. Bernard Parish Government posted the following message from Chalmette Refinery on their Facebook page:

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