Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

BP Responds to Reports of Leaks at Texas City Refinery

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The BP Texas City Chemical Plant

This evening StateImpact Texas received a response from BP about reported leaks of sulfur dioxide and methyl mercaptan at their refinery in Texas City, Texas. The BP Texas City refinery is the third largest refinery in the US, according to the company, and refines three percent of the country’s gasoline.

Here is the full statement:

“BP Texas City continues to address an odor event that occurred Tuesday evening at its Texas City Refinery.

The source of the odor was mercaptan, the odor additive placed in natural gas, which is used because of its strong odor at very low concentrations.

The site dispatched and is maintaining mobile environmental monitors into the community.

While there was a mercaptan smell in parts of the community on Tuesday evening, environmental monitors have not registered any readings above detectable limits.

The site has identified a tank on the western side of the plant as the source of the odor. The tank has been isolated and site personnel are taking steps to eliminate the odor.

There have been no new odor complaints since the tank was isolated.

BP has maintained regular contact with the City of Texas City and with neighboring Dow site personnel.”

The company also says there was no leak of sulfur dioxide at the refinery on Monday as was reported to the National Response Center, a federal hub for reporting oil and chemical spills. “I understand that there was a report made to the NRC on Monday that said that,” BP spokesperson MIchael Marr wrote in an email to StateImpact Texas. “That report was not made by BP and was incorrect.”

Marr says that “multiple air monitors” were placed near the tank before the incident was reported Monday. “Those monitors contain [sulfur dioxide] monitoring capability,” he wrote to StateImpact Texas, “they remain in the same area, and no monitor has picked up a reading of [sulfur dioxide].”

The sulfur dioxide leak was initially reported by Bloomberg and the Houston Chronicle’s FuelFix. They wrote yesterday that the emergency management coordinator for Texas City had confirmed that the sulfur dioxide leak “had been halted,” but that the methyl mercaptan leak was ongoing.

StateImpact Texas wrote back to BP requesting further clarification on the matter. BP Spokesperson MIchael Marr replied: “There was no sulfur dioxide leak. The issue has been mercaptan throughout.” Marr says that “there have been no odor complaints or other signs of a “leak” since yesterday.”

The original incident report to the National Response Center:


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