By Juliet Linderman, December 3, 2012. Source: The Times-Picayune
For more than 30 hours, Shell Chemical, located on the Motiva Enterprises campus in Norco, has been experiencing elevated flares, shooting flames and leaking thick black smoke into the air above St. Charles Parish. According to a report submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center, the plant is releasing unknown amounts of hydrogen sulfide, butadiene and benzene, a known carcinogen.
Shell Chemical reported the incident to the NRC at approximately 8 am on Sunday, Dec. 2, citing no deaths or injuries associated with the accident.
According to Department of Environmental Quality Press Secretary Rodney Mallet, an unknown unit within the plant sustained damages, and Motiva has opted to send the chemicals typically routed to the damaged unit to a flare to be burned, rather than shutting the unit down altogether and rebooting it. The quantity of chemicals being funneled to the flare, as well as anticipated emissions, are unknown at this time. Neither DEQ nor NRC has specified whether the material is coming from Shell Chemical or Motiva.