A major boiler failure at PBF Energy’s Delaware City Refinery triggered a release of smoke and other pollutants at 11:44 a.m. Saturday, said Delaware state environmental regulators.
Few details were included in the initial public notification by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control . Emissions listed by the agency, however, were those that routinely escape when one of the plant’s big energy recovery boilers breaks down on its coking units. Those systems salvage heat from the burning of carbon monoxide, controlling that pollutant while also generating steam for plant processes.
“I can confirm that we have an air pollution control device off line,” said Lisa Lindsey, a PBF spokeswoman. “We are taking steps to bring it back on line as soon as possible. We have conducted fence line monitoring and there are no community impacts. We have made notifications to all appropriate agencies.”
Lindsey declined to identify the unit involved. A recorded message on the refinery’s community information line noted that “you may notice a slight odor and darker plume coming from the stack.”
Listed emissions include sulfur dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia compounds and carbon monoxide.
CO boiler breakdowns have triggered extended pollution releases in the past. DNREC’s permit requires the plant to reduce flow rates in its coking unit when its CO boiler fails, but hourly emissions ranging from 3,000 to 4,400 pounds of sulfur dioxide end up permitted during repair work. PBF faces fines, however, if DNREC rules the company’s pollution control efforts insufficient.