Eastman Chemical Co. just outside Longview is shut down after the icy weather that arrived in East Texas this week disrupted operations. Luminant’s Martin Lake power plant also experienced damage from the cold weather.
Eastman Chemical Co. and Luminant filed air emission event reports this week with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that referenced the unprecedented cold weather that arrived this weekend.
Eastman Chemical’s local plant is just outside the city limits, in Harrison County, off Estes Parkway. It’s Longview’s largest industrial employer with about 1,500 employees.
“A sitewide steam emergency occurred due to extremely cold temperatures that resulted in a steam shortage and plants having to be shut down,” the report to TCEQ states. The report was filed Tuesday for the incident that occurred at 6:17 a.m. Monday.
The steam shortage affected three hydrocarbon cracking plants at the facility and other equipment.
“This caused upset emissions from the HCC-3 primary flare, HCC-3A primary flare, HCC-4 flare, the EO sewer tank, and Boiler 15. As of the date and time of this report, some emissions are still ongoing,” the report states. “Eastman is uncertain of the end date. Extremely low temperatures remain a factor. Eastman must also inspect instrumentation and determine if damage exists, whether gas supplies are available and balance Governor Abbott’s request of industry to reduce electrical consumption.”
The plant remains shut down, according to company spokeswoman Kristin Parker.
“We are experiencing outages at our plant in Longview as a result of the extreme winter conditions in the area. During shutdown, flaring of off-specification material resulted in the report to the TCEQ,” Parker said in an email. “Our units were safely brought down, and we anticipate restarting when the freezing temperatures break this later this weekend. We’re also working closely with AEP to reduce our power consumption at the site to support the surrounding community’s electrical needs during this time.”
The company will “work to coordinate a safe restart once the weather, power and natural gas conditions improve in the coming days and over the weekend,” she said.
Luminant, the power generation subsidiary of Irving-based Vistra, reported two incidents at the Martin Creek power plant.
The first occurred at midnight Monday and involved a boiler at the facility.
“Suspected monitor malfunction. Technicians are unable to access the stack platform due to severe weather,” the report states.
The second incident occurred just before 1 p.m. Monday when several pieces of equipment froze and had to be thawed and repaired.
Luminant’s report to the environmental quality commission said the incidents fall under a notification the agency issued before the storms hit that allows companies to seek “enforcement discretion” from the agency in the event of electric reliability issues.
The company referred questions to a statement issued Wednesday and wouldn’t respond to specific questions about its Rusk County plant.
“Our people have worked around the clock, across the company and especially at our power plants, under difficult circumstances and continue to do so. We know that many of our fellow Texans are without electricity and are suffering through this unprecedented winter weather event. We are committed to doing everything possible to provide electricity to them with the utmost urgency,” Curt Morgan, CEO of Vistra, said in the statement.
The weather has created challenges, the company said, and of its 19,000 megawatts of capacity, about 1,000 megawatts can’t produce electricity.
“Most of the remaining 18,000 megawatts are producing electricity with the balance of the capacity constrained due to challenges with receiving a steady supply of fuel for some plants as well as challenges with handling fuel already on site given the freezing conditions,” the company’s statement said. “Luminant, Vistra’s generation subsidiary, is working with the electric utilities, natural gas pipelines and producers, and the railroad companies to obtain as much fuel supply as possible.
“Power plant teams executed a significant winter preparedness strategy to keep electricity flowing to the Texas power grid during this unprecedented, extended winter weather event. Through these efforts and dealing with the challenges with fueling, Vistra estimates that it was able to produce approximately 25-30% of the power on the grid (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) Monday and Tuesday, compared to its market share of capacity of approximately 18%.”
The company said it follows a winter preparedness checklist that includes installing windbreaks and large radiant heaters in addition to existing freeze protection and insulation, and maintaining existing freeze protection equipment, including insulation and automatic circuitry that works to keep pipes from freezing.