New Orleans news outlets report that lightning struck Saturday at 189,000 barrels-per-day Chalmette Refining, causing a power outage that forced the ignition of safety flares.
“There were flares, and that’s a good thing,” St. Bernard Parish Fire Chief Thomas Stone told WWLTV. “That’s the safety valve.”
The power outage occurred about 4 p.m. during a major thunderstorm, a refinery spokesperson told WWLTV.
“Flaring is an essential, regulated part of a refinery’s integrated, engineered safety systems, designed to safely and effectively combust excess gases in incidents like today’s power failure,” Chalmette Refining spokesperson Elizabeth Frost said.
The company apologized for “nuisance odors” released by the flaring.
Earlier this month St. Bernard Parish was the location of a refinery explosion. The blast occurred at the 135,000-barrels-a-day Valero refinery in Meraux and was loud enough to be heard in Algiers on the opposite bank of the Mississippi River.
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