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April 21st, 2010

Texas City BP Plant Power Loss Can Cause Chemical Backup, Injuries

There was a temporary shutdown in operations at the British Petroleum (BP) 455,790 barrel-per-day plant refinery in Texas City, Texas today, according to the Texas City Emergency Management .  According to officials, the electricity in a steam generating facility was tripped and the plant lost the capability to export steam to its various units.  This electricity loss resulted in a shutdown of three units and reduced production in other units.

When a plant like this one loses power, chemicals start to back up.  To counteract this, plant workers should flare off the chemicals, burning off excess chemicals in the lines.  In power plants, steam generation refers to furnaces that burn the fuel to boil water to generate steam.  In some industrial settings, steam-producing heat exchangers called heat recovery steam generators(HRSG) use heat from some industrial process.  The steam generating boiler produces steam at the high purity, pressure and temperature required for the steam turbine that drives the electrical generator.

The plant has since resumed steam power, but things must be brought back online slowly for safety reasons.

No injuries were reported during the incident, but non-essential workers were removed from the site as a precaution.   Officials said the community was not in any immediate danger of leaks or fires.  Factory worker can be overcome by fumes from an industrial-strength chemical spill, or be constantly exposured to supposedly safe chemicals found in the products manufactured in their plants.  Chemical exposure injury can result in a debilitating conditions such as chronic chemical sensitivity or other chemical environmental illness.  It is estimated that 390,000 new cases of occupational disease occur each year and that 100,000 Americans die from occupationally caused illness and disease every year.

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