Harvey sinks roof at Exxon refinery in Baytown - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Harvey sinks roof at Exxon refinery in Baytown

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ExxonMobil's massive Baytown refinery and chemical complex has suffered damages from the impacts of Harvey, causing the company to prepare for days of chemical releases as repairs are underway.

A roof at the Baytown facility "partially sank" because of heavy rain, but the company declined to offer details on the extent of the damage, CNN reported.

According to the report:

A report filed with Texas environmental regulators said Exxon expects air emissions linked to the damage will end by Friday at the facility. Exxon shut down the refining and chemical complex and said it was taking action to "minimize emissions."

Exxon had reported on Sunday that "operational issues" forced the facility to shut down its operations. A second update on Monday again acknowledged the issues but did not divulge details.

The Washington Post also reported the company's Beaumont petrochemical refinery suffered a damaged sulfur thermal oxidizer, causing the release of more than 1,300 pounds of sulfur dioxide, along with other chemicals.

According to Exxon:

ExxonMobil’s primary focus continues to be the safety of our employees, contractors and the communities in the affected areas. We are communicating with our employees and their families to ensure they remain safe.

Extreme weather and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Harvey has led to operational issues at our Texas facilities. Our Baytown complex has completed the safe shutdown of the majority of its operations, while our Beaumont refinery has reduced rates. 

ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge facilities are operating as normal.

The Baytown refinery is the second-largest in the U.S., second only to the Saudi Aramco facility in Port Arthur, Texas.

SkyTruth, which aggregates U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center reports, published a report that Exxon released more than 300 pounds of 1,3-Butadiene and 1,000 pounds of nitrous oxide through a flare. Another Exxon report states the facility also released hydrogen cyanide during the facility's controlled shutdown, which involves extra emissions releases.

A Texas court earlier this year ordered Exxon to pay about $20 million in fines for years of illegal pollution that released about 10 million pounds of pollutants into the air, CNN reported.

Other discharges and spills from the area's refineries and petrochemical facilities have been reported to the East Harris County Manufacturers Association CAER line, an emergency notification system that alerts East Harris County residents when there's an issue at the nearby plants.

Reported incidents include spills, odors, black smokes and flares and unauthorized discharges into the Houston Ship Channel.

On Tuesday, Valero reported a spill because of Harvey's impacts. The company said the spill caused some odors that should be "no cause for concern," and the the spill had been contained by Tuesday afternoon.

According to the NRC report, an unknown amount of crude oil discharged into a firewall from an external, floating roof tank. The roof of the tank caved in, the reported stated.

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