Statement on Ongoing Investigation into the March 5 Release of HF at the CITGO EAST Refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas

March 12, 2012
Washington, DC, March 12, 2012 - Three CSB investigators will be returning to the CITGO East Refinery in Corpus Christi, TX, today to continue investigating the March 5 release of highly toxic hydrofluoric acid (HF) from the refinery’s alkylation unit.  A seven-person CSB team was deployed to the refinery last week following the release, which occurred at about 7 p.m. Monday, March 5.
Investigators will be returning to the facility to conduct follow up interviews with plant personnel and further examine the unit.
To date the team has determined that the incident occurred during a leak from a piping flange on a 12-inch line operating at 145 pounds per square inch gauge (psig).  The released process stream contained hydrocarbons and about 5% HF, according to refinery officials.  The release triggered the alkylation unit’s automatic water cannons, designed to capture airborne HF.
Last week the CSB designed and conducted a test on the failed flange intended to determine the leak rate.  The line was pressured up with nitrogen gas and the rate of depressurization measured.  CSB investigators are currently calculating the estimated size of the release using the test data.  Investigators will also be examining several failed bolts that were recovered from the flange, reviewing key data from the process control system, and examining records of previous releases of HF from the flange and other locations in the alkylation unit.
For further information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at (202) 446-8094.
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