Ellwood Onshore Facility Emergency Flare Event 08/5/2009
On August 5, 2009 the EOF was experiencing plant operating difficulties, which ultimately led to plant upset conditions and emergency shutdown of the facility by the facility operators. During these upset conditions, a hydrogen sulfide (H2S) detector on the fenceline of the EOF alarmed for 55 seconds. After reviewing data from the facilities monitoring systems, Venoco determined that that tanks did not vent H2S to the atmosphere. When the facility was shutdown, pressures in equipment at the facility increased, and the pressure safety valves on this equipment opened to relieve the pressure to the flare system. This type of flaring is referred to as an “emergency flare event,” by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) and is defined as “the combustion (flaring) of gaseous fuels caused by an emergency event.” The plant remained in a shutdown condition until further investigation the next day.
The City’s Director of Planning and Environmental Services determined that the Venoco, Inc./Ellwood Pipeline, Inc. failed to properly notify the City of this incident in accordance with the Ellwood Onshore Facility’s Development Plan permit condition no. 158/Emergency Action Plan; hence, a Notice of Violation was issued (09-130-NOV).