The problem with oil refineries, from a purely layman's point of view, is they're full of valves and fittings and all manner of other hardware that seem to leak after a certain amount of wear and tear.
And so it was at the Shell plant in Deer Park beginning at 1:44 a.m. yesterday -- Sunday, December 18.
It was a flange leak and Shell officials aren't sure yet why it leaked, but it did and it lasted a full eight hours, until 9:48 a.m.
The bulk of it, unfortunately, could not be sent to a flare to be burned up, so into the atmosphere it went:
-- 7,207 pounds of hydrocarbons
-- 202 pounds of benzene
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-- 908 pounds of butane
-- And lots of other stuff.
The good news is a lot of other contaminants that were released were sent to a flare, and the other good news, of course, is that most of us were sleeping, or about to go to sleep, when all those airborne wooly boogers were unleashed.
-- Steve Olafson