US safety board probes acid leak at CITGO Texas refinery

07 March 2012 00:10 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Chemical Safety Board is investigating the release of hydrofluoric acid at a CITGO refinery at Corpus Christi, Texas, the agency said on Tuesday.

CITGO did not respond to a query by ICIS. According to Reuters, the company said that a small flange leak on Monday night appeared to be the cause of a shutdown of an alkylation unit, which led to the release.

No injuries were reported.

CSB investigators were expected to begin their probe at the site on Wednesday.

The CSB cited local news reports as saying detectors sensed the release of the acid and set off water cannons to contain the release of the highly corrosive and toxic acid.

The alkylation unit in the 163,000 bbl/day refinery uses hydrofluoric acid to make high-octane blending components for gasoline.

The agency said that on 19 July, 2009, the alkylation unit released hydrocarbons and 19 tonnes of hydrofluoric acid from the same unit. The hydrocarbons ignited, causing a fire that burned for several days, critically inuring one worker and leading to another being treated for possible acid exposure.

The CSB said the 2009 incident is still under investigation.

By Ken Fountain