Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Wetter living through chemistry

by Tom Sullivan

Port Arthur, TX refinery.

As the water rises in Houston and human casualties mount, just what is happening at the many chemical plants and refineries in the Houston area? Not much good, you can bet.

Amidst the rolling disaster, the Houston Chronicle is still managing to glug out some news:

Flood waters from Hurricane Harvey created an emergency situation that could trigger explosions at the Arkema chemical plant northeast of Houston in Crosby.

Late Monday night, the facility lost power from both its primary supply and its backup generators due to flooding. Employees moved highly volatile organic peroxides into back-up containers to keep them cool. If this class of chemical gets too hot, it can cause fires or explosions.

"At this time, while we do not believe there is any imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion withing[sic] the site confines is real," Arkema spokeswoman Janet Smith said on Tuesday.
The New Republic reported on Monday:
“Unbearable” petrochemical smells are reportedly drifting into Houston. As historic rainfall and flooding continue to pound America’s fourth-most populated city, residents of Houston’s industrial fence-line communities are reporting strong gas- and chemical-like smells coming from the many refineries and chemical plants nearby. “I’ve been smelling them all night and off and on this morning,” said Bryan Parras, an activist at the grassroots environmental justice group TEJAS. Parras, who lives and works in Houston’s East End, on Sunday said some residents are experiencing “headaches, sore throat, scratchy throat and itchy eyes.”

I've spent enough time in chemical plants that my damaged sense of smell might not even pick it up.

The online magazine ChemInfo has a brief report on the wider impact:
According to a report in ICIS, the plants that decided to take precautionary measures and close included ExxonMobil’s Baytown refinery and chemicals plant, Celanese’s methanol operations in Pasadena, American Acryl Bayport’s acrylic acid plant along with refineries owned by Phillips 66, Shell, Petrobras and others.

Chevron has also shut down its petrochemical complex in Cedar Bayou, which is one of the country’s biggest chemical production sites. According to the Houston Chronicle, Chevron plans to keep the complex, which is in the midst of a $6 billion expansion, closed until Sept. 6.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the plant closures have impacted 37 percent of the country's production capacity for chlorine and caustic soda. Analysts also estimate that about 40 percent of the U.S.'s ethylne [sic] production has also been disrupted by Harvey.
Gas prices here spiked 16 cents overnight yesterday, so you'd better run out and stock up on chlorine and ethylene before those prices go through the roof too. If plants like Arkema don't shut down properly, they could have no roofs to go through.

Acrylonitrile (ACN), hydrogen cyanide (HCN), ethylene oxide (EtO)? All made in the Houston area. Most are chemical processing intermediates, although hospitals use ethylene oxide gas to sterilize surgical instruments that cannot take the heat from an autoclave — because EtO kills pretty much everything. And it's rather explosive.

Reuters reports that in Port Arthur, Texas, the largest refinery in the country is shutting down:
The refinery’s owner, Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL], said the refinery was operating at 40 percent capacity on Tuesday evening. Earlier in the day, the refinery was operating at 60 percent of its capacity, the company said.

Energy industry intelligence service Genscape said the refinery was using its safety flare system on Tuesday night. Flares can be a signal of the shutdown of a unit or units at a refinery.

The flaring triggered messages on social media of a fire at the refinery.
Motiva reports no fires on Tuesday.

I've always said if work dried up here (no pun intended), I could always find some in Houston and environs. But I've managed to stay away, thank you. A colleague tells a tale of doing field work at a plant near Houston when a pressure safety device blew on a vessel nearby. A cloud of orange gas shot into the air and drifted into an adjacent open structure. Men working inside rushed to the handrails and puked their guts out.

Too much information?

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.