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Safety

U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigates Mississippi natural gas plant accident

Move marks first major probe in more than a year

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
July 8, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 28

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board launched its first major investigation in a year with a probe of a June 27 fire and explosion at a natural gas processing facility in Pascagoula, Miss.

The past year was difficult for CSB, involving a congressional investigation and the termination of the board’s former head. Last October, new CSB Chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland announced that the board would halt new investigations and reboot its organization and structure. The freeze on probes continued until the Mississippi incident.

No one was injured in the accident, but the plant has remained shuttered since it happened, says a spokesperson for Enterprise Products Partners, which owns the facility. The accident occurred in one of three process lines, or trains, as the facility handles incoming hydrocarbons and separates the material into natural gas liquids and residual gas.

The cause of this late-night accident is unclear at this time, say CSB and company officials.

A former BP facility, the Enterprise Products Partners plant processes approximately 42.5 million cubic meters per day of natural gas from offshore operations in the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of 25 similar U.S. processing plants the company operates.

Once separated, the natural gas liquids are transported from the Pascagoula plant to a facility in Louisiana through a pipeline for further refining.

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