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Shell Deer Park refinery set to implement environmental mandates

The Pasadena Citizen: Shell Deer Park refinery set to implement environmental mandates

“Officials at Shell DP had no comment on the pending county lawsuit.”

By HEATHER L. NICHOLSON, Citizen reporter

Posted 21 Sept 04

In an effort to meet federal environmental mandates and recover from a less than flattering pollution report, the Shell Deer Park Refinery is planning several upgrades in the plant’s production unit estimated to exceed $250 million.

Soon after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced earlier in the year that Houston-area plants caused some of the worst ground-level ozone pollution in the country, Harris County hit Shell DP with a lawsuit seeking fines for pollution violations.

The suit, which is still pending, alleges the Deer Park plant “emitted substances into the air in such concentration and duration as to adversely affect human health and welfare,” the lawsuit says.

The refinery ranked fourth out of 121 plants in eight counties surrounding Houston for illegal pollution releases in 2003. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports Shell DP had 27 accidental releases last year including instances when surrounding highways had to be shut down and nearby communities were asked to shelter-in-place.

The first of several projects Shell DP has in its planning stages is to obtain an ultra-low sulfur diesel production unit, costing approximately $103 million.

“While the project will meet governmental targets to reduce sulfur in diesel gasoline, it also will potentially offer a good payout to the refinery,” said Shell’s Manager of Major Projects, Barry Day, to the Deer Park Broadcaster.

The ultra-low sulfur diesel project, now in the engineering and design stage, will take several years to complete.

Officials at Shell DP had no comment on the pending county lawsuit. Each alleged violation, that includes opening burnings, exceeding emission limitations and impeding nearby residents of enjoying their property, could cost $25,000 each. Shell DP and other area refineries are making changes to their facilities to meet certain standards developed by the EPA to protect the public from exposure to harmful amounts of pollutants.

A major project the refinery is planning is to develop a Refinery Reinstrumentation Program at $135 million.

The program allows the instrumentation and controls on half of the units in the refinery will be upgraded, making Shell Deer Park the first refinery in the Shell system and one of the first U.S. refineries to use new, state-of-the-art Fieldbus technology on major refining units, Shell DP reports. Fieldbus allows the refinery to implement predictive maintenance, which focuses on maintenance where it is needed most.

“By making these infrastructure improvements, we will reduce off-spec incidents and the occasional flaring of material due to the previous out-of-date controls causing unit upsets or shutdowns,” Day said.

The Deer Park plant is also installing an additional pollution control device at $15 million that will monitor nitrogen oxide emissions which is one of the most prevalent smog-producing byproducts and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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