Marathon Petroleum has completed the de-activation of the malfunctioning flare. There were no additional unexpected emissions during the process.
Marathon Petroleum continues to conduct air monitoring in nearby communities, and continues to share results with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the City of Detroit’s Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department. We plan to begin repairs to the malfunctioning flare this afternoon. As a precautionary measure, we will continue air monitoring for several hours after we de-activate the flare, in case there is any residual gas in the flare during the final de-activation process. We have notified local emergency response agencies of our plans.
Below are comments from Marathon Petroleum at the Feb. 5, 2019, Detroit City Council meeting regarding the malfunctioning flare at the company’s refinery:
On Sunday , we implemented processes that significantly reduced the amount of material flowing to the flare. By Sunday evening, we had reduced it to zero, which addressed the odor concerns that affected the area. We believe the odor was largely from mercaptan, a substance added to natural gas to give it a detectable odor. We deployed air-monitoring resources on a constant basis, and at no time did they detect dangerous levels of any substances. The U.S. EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality confirmed that there were no readings of concern. We also worked closely with the City of Detroit on this matter. This included the city’s Homeland Security office and the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department.
When we began our response to this incident, we notified the MDEQ, the Detroit Fire Department, the Dearborn Fire Department, Michigan State Police, Homeland Security and others. We worked to ensure a briefing was sent to the members of this honorable council, as well as his honor the mayor’s office. We also notified members of the community by updating our refinery website and sending text messages, phone calls and emails to those who have subscribed to receive those alerts. Throughout our response, we have kept emergency responders, regulatory agencies, and our neighbors informed of our efforts. We have made our air-monitoring data available to the regulatory and emergency response agencies.
As of yesterday evening, we finished removing the contents of various vessels that are connected to the flare. This means we can now de-activate the flare and begin making repairs.
Once we start making repairs, one of our top priorities will be to determine how this incident happened. We believe it was linked to the extreme cold that affected the area last week, but we will rely on our investigation to confirm that. Once we know the cause, we will take corrective actions so that this does not happen again.
After we make the repairs, test the flare, and confirm it is safe, we will begin the process of re-establishing normal operations at the refinery. Our highest priority is the safety of the community where we operate and those who work at our refinery. We apologize to the community for the odor and the inconvenience.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a press statement regarding their response to the release at Marathon Petroleum’s Detroit refinery. Please see the statement here: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MIDEQ/bulletins/22cc75b?fbclid=IwAR3lMODzRf9XZanRyZHV69QA0W2bWsuo9GRnUx6TvnyzHFXyJLEwYnIyv-I
Marathon Petroleum has implemented processes at its Detroit refinery to stop a release from a flare that is not functioning properly. These processes have significantly reduced the amount of material flowing to the flare since this morning. In order to conduct repairs to the flare, we are also removing the contents of various vessels connected to the flare. We are conducting this work as safely and as quickly as possible, and we anticipate completion by the end of the day tomorrow, Feb. 4. Although there has been an odor from the release, our ongoing air monitoring has not detected dangerous levels of any substances. We believe the odor is largely from mercaptan, a substance added to natural gas to give it a detectable smell. We will continue to conduct air monitoring on a constant basis in nearby communities as a precaution, and are making our air-monitoring data available to regulatory and emergency response agencies. We apologize for the inconvenience to the community, and we are conducting a thorough investigation to determine what caused this release. Once determined, will implement the necessary corrective actions so that this does not happen again.
Marathon Petroleum has determined that the source of the odor is a flare at the refinery that is not functioning properly and needs to be repaired. In order to make repairs, we must de-activate the flare. Flares are safety devices that allow us to safely combust excess materials at the refinery, and we are working on de-activating the flare as safely and quickly as possible.
We have deployed air-monitoring resources in affected areas, and although there is an odor, we have not detected dangerous levels of any substances. We are making our air-monitoring data available to emergency responders and regulatory agencies.
We apologize to the community for the odor and the inconvenience. Our highest priority is the safety of the community where we operate and those who work at our refinery. We will continue to work as safely end quickly as possible to resolve this matter. We are conducting a thorough investigation to determine what caused this release, and we will implement the necessary corrective actions so that this does not happen again.