Yesterday, July 19 2012, The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality(DEQ) Office of Environmental Compliance served a Consolidated Compliance Order & Notice of Potential Penalty to the ExxonMobil Corporation for violations related to the multiple chemical leak that was discovered on June 14, 2012. The Consolidated Compliance Order outlines several violations at the Baton Rouge Chemical Plant and an associated violation at the Baton Rouge Refinery.
The violations include:
1. "The Respondent(ExxonMobil) failed to provide notification of a change in the nature and rate of the discharge."
2. "Each unauthorized incident of emitting pollutants not authorized by a permit..."
- Unauthorized releases were reported as follows: 28,688 lbs of Benzene; 10,882 lbs of Toluene; 1,100 lbs of Cyclohexane; 1,564 lbs of Hexane and 12,605 lbs of additional Volatile Organic Compounds(VOC).
3. "The failure to maintain an emission control facility..."
4. "The failure to maintain a seal on a valve at the end of a line containing VOCs..."
5. "Each event of unauthorized emmissions from Tank 778 (EQT 0496)..."
- The wastewater collected from the chemical leak on June 14, 2012 was collected in tank 778 at the Baton Rouge Refinery. This tank is not permitted to store or emit VOCs, such as benzene.
ExxonMobil Corporation is required to respond to the compliance order within 30 days and could face civil penalties of as much as $27,500 per day of violation.
To further understand the incident and subsequent compliance order, excerpts from this filing are compiled below.
"On or about June 14, 2012, at approximately 4:35am, the Respondent discovered a leaking bleeder plug at tank 801, which is located in the BCRP's Aromatic Production Unit. At approximately 5:04am, on June 14, 2012, the Respondent provided notification to the Louisiana State Police(LSP) of a leaking bleeder plug, which allowed an unauthorized release and/or discharge to occur."
"Additionally, the Department's Emergency Responder was informed that the release was secured at 5:06am, and the concentration of substances contained in the release, particularly Benzene, was greater that the Reportable Quantity(RQ) of ten(10) pounds. The Respondent provided subsequent notification that the RQ for Toluene of 1000 lbs was exceeded."
The Compliance order states that on June 15, 2012, "the Respondent had determined the amount of Benzene emitted from the initiation of the discharge until it was secured to be 1364 pounds(lbs)."
Finally on June 20, 2012 a report submitted to DEQ from Exxon details the "specific pollutants emitted and the amount(s) released during the June 14, 2012 unauthorized release are as follows: 28,688 lbs of Benzene; 10,882 lbs of Toluene; 1,100 lbs of Cyclohexane; 1,564 lbs of Hexane and 12,605 lbs of additional Volatile Organic Compounds(VOC)."
"The respondent failed to provide notification of a change in the nature and rate of the discharge."
"...valve (tag # 381737) was more than 50% open, causing a pressure increase that ultimately caused the failure of the bleeder plug. The failure to maintain an emission control facility is a violation..."
"...the release occurred on or about June 14, 2012, began at approximately 1:54am, when a bleeder plug dislodged from a one(1) inch bleeder valve (tag# 381737) associated with Tank 801. The failure to maintain a seal on a valve located at the end of a line containing VOCs is a violation..."
"the Respondent stated that wastewater from the June 14, 2012 release was collected in Tank 778 (EQT 0496), which is owned and operated by the Baton Rouge Refinery. However, Title V Permit No. 2795-V6, which authorizes the emmissions from Tank 778 (EQT 0496) does not authorize the storage and/or emitting of VOC, including benzene from this tank. Each event of unauthorized emmissions from Tank 778 (EQT 0496) is a violation..."