Processing Magazine

Investigation finds Citgo refinery leak ran for five months

March 20, 2012

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation found that an alkylation unit at Citgo Petroleum Corp.''s Corpus Christi refinery was leaking for five months before spilling as much as 500 pounds of the hydrofluoric acid on March 5, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Leaks from a flange on the unit occurred as early as September, the investigators found.

The release persisted after maintenance and the unit was kept online while a clamp was redesigned, lead investigator Johnnie Banks said in a statement.

Water cannons were automatically activated to contain the chemical release, Citgo said March 6.

"The facility is routinely using the water cannons as release mitigation for maintenance activities when in reality they should not be used as the last line of defense," Banks said.