Occasionally, our operations give rise to complaints by the general public.
As our manufacturing sites are located in the close vicinity of surrounding housing, neighbors are the first to experience any process irregularity. Typical causes for complaints include noise, odor, and soot.
Two special categories of nuisance complaints include:
Most of our sites are equipped with one or more flares, both at ground level and at tower level. Essentially, a flare is a safety device to guarantee that a process irregularity can be dealt with in a controlled way. The effect however is that hydrocarbons are burnt in open air, a process that is accompanied by visual effects and noise.
During flaring, high pressure steam is injected to induce a turbulent, efficient flame in order to have a smokeless flame. Unfortunately, a lot of noise is inherent to this process. Depending on weather conditions, this noise may lead to complaints. In case steam supply is low or impaired, the flare will burn less efficiently, leading to black smoke being emitted. This in its turn can lead to complaints about soot.
Decomps and safety valves
Our low density polyethylene plants can contain high pressure in its reactor (up to 3,000 atm.). On rare occasions, the pressure builds up too quickly, exceeding tolerable limits. In such a case, excess pressure is relieved through either a safety valve or a rupture disk. This leads to noise which – depending on weather conditions – may be followed by fall out of soot and/or LDPE powder.
Needless to say, incidents involving flaring or decomps are not only unfortunate in terms of neighborhood relations, but can also have an economic impact. We therefore endeavor to minimize their occurrence.