Last Modified: Monday, March 31, 2014 5:40 PM
A pump failure inside Sasol’s ethane cracker last weekend was the cause of the large flares that could be seen for miles coming from the company’s Westlake plant.
Mike Hayes, Sasol’s public affairs manager for U.S. megaprojects, said the plant was coming out of a shutdown situation on Saturday when a pump inside the cracker lost suction, causing one of the compressors to heat up and shut down. The gas that would’ve been sent through the compressor was sent directly to the flare, which caused the big flames.
Hayes said the plant had heavy flaring for about an hour. He added that plant officials had the pump stabilized and back in its start-up position shortly thereafter.
Sasol conducts shutdowns periodically to do maintenance and repair work. Hayes said the flares released during a routine shutdown are usually not visible, especially when the process goes smoothly. He added, however, that flaring can happen anytime, day or night.
Sasol schedules full turnarounds on its ethane cracker every five years, Hayes said, adding that the plant has shutdowns for many reasons.
“There are times when you have equipment issues when you have to go in and put the plant in stand-by operation mode, clear part of it, and repair some equipment,” Hayes added. “Then you go through a full start-up.
“Ethylene is a high-value product for us,” he said. “When the ethylene plant is not operating, we’re losing money. When it’s ready to start up, we start up.”
Posted By: CPRN Calcasieu Parish Real News On: 4/12/2014
Title: What Chemicals were released when the flaring incident happened?
Why does the local press not tell the people exactly what chemicals were released and how much? Mike Hayes explaining the shut down process is not telling us anything about what we need to know as citizens breathing the pollution. We have a right to know and the American Press has an obligation to the public to inform them.