ADN Compilation:  Southeast Texas Flooding and the Effects on Industry – Chemical, Nuclear and Oil & Gas

By Ami Tiel   8/29/17

In times of natural disasters, our citizens and our government agencies come together.  Our chemical and nuclear plants and oil & gas industries do as well.  The tremendous amount of safety considerations taken to ensure the families and communities surrounding these facilities is not taken lightly.  Safety is the priority over profits and below are several articles detailing the preparations taken.

Being a good neighbor isn’t just a motto, it is a way of life for our industries.  As conditions improve and these plants can be safely brought back online and workers can return to work, they will.  But in the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with the millions affected by Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding issues facing the great state of Texas, the cities of Houston, Baytown, League City, Deer Park, Texas City and Beaumont, the Ports and Coastline communities and all the citizens impacted.

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Updated at 11:19 a.m. Tuesday    Source – Victoria Advocate

DOW Chemical – Seadrift, Freeport, Texas City, Deer Park, Beaumont, Bayport, La Porte and Houston

The Dow Chemical Company and the Dow Chemical Company Foundation will give $1 million to support immediate relief and long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts associated with Hurricane Harvey.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire region, including our employees and the communities that we call home as the wrath of Hurricane Harvey is endured,” said Andrew Liveris, Dow’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“Our primary concern right now is the safety of our employees and communities, and we’re working closely with our Dow families and local partners to help.”

Dow is collaborating with national and local partners providing critical services to individuals immediately effected by the flood. To help meet this immediate need, Dow will donate $100,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, $100,000 to Team Rubicon, and $200,000 to other local nonprofit organizations assisting the region.
Dow is also matching employee and retiree donations up to $100,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

As recovery and rebuilding efforts begin, Dow will continue to engage community partners to assess and respond to community needs not currently identified across the region through a financial commitment of $500,000, and in-kind and volunteer support.

Texas is home to about 12,000 Dow employees and contractors. Dow has safely accounted for each of its employees, however, many are personally impacted by the storm. To support its employees through these challenges, Dow is offering interest-free loans and temporary housing as needed.

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INEOS – Green Lakes Facility

The INEOS Green Lake facility is following hurricane procedures and is temporarily shut down. INEOS Nitriles’ first and foremost priority is the safety and well-being of its employees. As conditions improve, the INEOS Green Lake facility will recommence operations as quickly and safely as possible.

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INVISTA – Victoria County

Invista’s spokeswoman Amy Hodges said: “We are assessing our site and are communicating with our employees… As always, the safety of our employees, contractors and our community is of utmost importance.”

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LyondellBasell – Chocolate Bayou, Corpus Christi, Matagorda and Victoria

LyondellBasell’s  manufacturing sites tested their power generators, communications systems and other equipment in preparation for heavy rainfall and flooding.

“Our primary concern is for the safety of our workers, their families and the surrounding community and the environment,” LyondellBasell spokesperson Chevalier Gray said.

Formosa – Point Comfort

Bill Harvey‏ @fpccomm 17h

No employee’s job or salary will be affected if you are unable to return to work because if unsafe conditions.

Bill Harvey‏ @fpccomm 17h

If it is unsafe , do not return to work until it is safe.

Source – Twitter

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Flooding Crisis At Texas Nuclear Plant Sparks ‘New Fukushima’ Fears

Experts are warning the STP Nuclear Plant in Texas is unprepared for the unprecedented level of flooding in the area and claim the troubled nuclear plant could become the “new Fukushima” and contaminate the entire south of the USA.

Before Hurricane Harvey hit the area, STP Nuclear Plant officials claimed the nuclear reactor was prepared to weather the storm, with an article published in the Bay City Tribune in Texas boasting:

The plant site is located 10 miles inland and at an elevation of 29 feet, well above the reach of even a Category 5 storm surge. The plant was designed with watertight buildings and doors to keep emergency electric power and cooling systems fully functional. All buildings housing safety equipment are flood-proof to an elevation of at least 41 feet above mean sea level.”

Source – NewsPunch

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Security of South Texas Project debated in the wake of Fukushima nuclear disaster

By:  Robert  Crowe   March 30, 2011

Back-up systems

The sobering situation in Japan raises questions about whether STP’s two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors — located in Matagorda County 10 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico — could succumb to a similar crisis if major hurricanes were to cause a storm surge. The plant’s operators and nuclear industry experts say that is unlikely…

…STP spokesman Buddy Eller said the five-foot-thick, bunker-like concrete reactor domes reinforced with steel are able to withstand hurricane Category 5 winds and a 41-foot storm surge. Also, he said, STP boasts one of the world’s few triple-redundant backup systems with multiple water pumps and six 5.5-megawatt diesel backup generators. “We’re built to withstand a worst-case scenario involving a hurricane with combined wind and a 100-year flood along that Colorado River,” Eller said. “That analysis puts the storm surge at 26 feet, and we’re located at 29 feet above sea level.”

Where the variety of back-up generators are based caused some disagreement among the parties. During an initial interview last week, Eller said backup systems were located above ground, though he was unsure how high they were situated. Hadden and others familiar with the facility said some of the generators are actually located three feet below ground. And the NRC’s Uselding said the generators “located at ground level,” were enhanced five years ago with nine-inch-thick, water-tight doors, and are routinely tested against a fire hose. However, one underground generator was damaged in April 2002 during a heavy rainstorm. At the time of the flood, the water-tight concrete walls had been moved for maintenance, Hadden said.

When asked to clarify whether the systems are indeed located below ground, Eller said: “The safety systems are located in different locations throughout each unit. They are completely independent, separate systems and are all designed to withstand flooding, storm surges, fires, and seismic events.”

Matthes said he was not aware that some systems might be located below ground…

…As Hurricanes Ike, Katrina, and Rita demonstrated, it can be impossible to transport diesel fuel for generators when roads are covered in water. And it’s when a reactor can’t pump water to cool itself — much less the pool of highly toxic spent nuclear fuel stored onsite at STP — that problems like meltdowns and radioactive fuel fires can occur. However, STP’s Eller said each of the six backup generators has seven days of fuel in reserve, so each reactor potentially has 21 days of fuel on site.

Source – SanAntonioCurrent

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Residents told to evacuate on risk of explosion at Texas chemical plant

By:  Brian Sullivan   August 29,2017

All residents within 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of a chemical plant in southeast Texas were told to evacuate as a “precautionary measure” on Tuesday because of the rising risk of an explosion, the local fire marshal’s office said in a Twitter message.

Earlier on Tuesday, the owner of the plant, Arkema SA, said in a statement the situation at its Crosby, Texas, plant “has become serious” and evacuated all of its staff from the facility after Tropical Storm Harvey knocked out power and flooding swamped its backup generators…

…The key issue is maintaining refrigeration for chemicals on site, which are stored at low temperatures. The plant lost refrigeration when backup generators were flooded and then workers transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers.

The company said some refrigeration of back-up containers has been compromised because of high-water levels and the company is monitoring temperature levels remotely.

“While we do not believe there is any imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real,” the company said.

Anglo-Swiss chemicals firm Ineos Group Holdings said it has been forced to shut down facilities in Texas — Chocolate Bayou Works and Battleground Manufacturing Complex, and INEOS Nitriles’ Green Lake facility are following hurricane procedures and are temporarily shut down, spokesman Charles Saunders said.

Huntsman said it has closed six chemical plants in Texas, along with its global headquarters and advanced technology center in Texas.

Video Source – CNBC

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Texas refiners spared at first by Harvey could be in danger

By:  Brian K. Sullivan and David Marino   August 29, 2017
A refinery is seen during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in Deer Park, Texas. Floodwaters have breached a levee south of the city of Houston, officials said Tuesday, urging residents to leave the area immediately. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SmialowskiBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES    A refinery in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on Tuesday in Deer Park, Tx.

….Motiva Enterprises LLC’s Port Arthur facility, the largest in the United States, remains open but is running at 60 percent capacity with supply issues, spokeswoman Angela Goodwin said…

Valero Corp.’s Port Arthur operation has already closed two units because of flooding, Total SA’s plant there is said to cut its output to a minimum and Exxon Mobil Corp.’s nearby Beaumont refinery is said to be shutting down because of flooding.

Source – BostonGlobe

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Hurricane Harvey could hit the Texas economy

By:    August 25, 2017

“These tanks are not designed with protections against rising water,” Blackburn said. “We could have perhaps 50 million gallons of oil and hazardous material being released in what would probably be the worst environmental disaster in United States history. It would also shut down six major refineries.”

Source – CNN Money

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Gas prices will jump thanks to Tropical Storm Harvey

By:  Julia Horowitz   August 26, 2017

The Gulf Coast accounts for 17% of total U.S. crude oil production and 45% of total U.S. petroleum refining capacity, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Source- CNN Money

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GULF OF MEXICO FACT SHEET

The Gulf of Mexico area, both onshore and offshore, is one of the most important regions for energy resources and infrastructure. Gulf of Mexico federal offshore oil production accounts for 17% of total U.S. crude oil production and federal offshore natural gas production in the Gulf accounts for 5% of total U.S. dry production. Over 45% of total U.S. petroleum refining capacity is located along the Gulf coast, as well as 51% of total U.S. natural gas processing plant capacity.

Source – US Energy Information Administration

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Families being evacuated near Crosby chemical plant

By:  KHOU Staff    August 30, 2017

CROSBY, TEXAS – A mandatory evacuation is underway in a one and a half mile radius of the Arkema Chemical plant in Crosby. Chemical refrigeration at the plant has been compromised due to high water and lack of power. Employees at the plant have been evacuated and families were being evacuated into early Wednesday morning.

“In order to ensure the safety of our ride-out team, all personnel have been evacuated from the site at this time,” company officials stated in a press release.

Video Source – KENS5 News

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WAFB Channel 9 – Wednesday August 30, 2017

Roughly one-third of the United States’ oil refining capacity is located near where the storm made landfall on Friday. Several refineries were shut down because of the hurricane. …………….

Gas prices rise ahead of Labor Day after Harvey shutters largest refinery in US

By Zach Winslett    UPDATE: 

Harvey has left behind devastating flooding and damage in the Texas Gulf Coast that have elevated nationwide gas prices.

As many as 15 refineries were shut down because of the hurricane. According to GasBuddy.com the closed refineries account for roughly 25 percent of U.S. refining capacity.

The largest refinery in the United States, located in Port Arthur, Texas, was among the shuttered. The Saudi-owned Motiva oil refinery is usually responsible for more than 600,000 barrels a day.

Source – WAFB

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Motiva in Port Arthur, Texas (one of the largest oil well refineries) — was sold by Shell Oil and Motiva to Aramco in 2016 — Saudi Arabia owns it now — lock, stock, and every barrel. ….

Saudis to take control of largest U.S. refinery

By:  Matt Egan  March 21, 2016

The crown jewel among America’s oil refiners may soon be owned by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Aramco, the state oil company of OPEC’s most powerful player, recently announced plans to take full control of the sprawling Port Arthur, Texas refinery. The Gulf Coast facility is the largest refinery in the U.S. and can process 600,000 barrels of oil a day.

 Port Arthur has great strategic value, especially given the American oil boom that has eased U.S. appetite for foreign oil.

It will give the Saudis complete control over the refinery. They could then likely bring more of their own crude oil into the U.S. for refining and selling in the North American market.

Source – CNNMoney

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