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Point Comfort plant burns off built up natural gas

Jan. 7, 2014 at 11:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 7, 2014 at 7:08 p.m.


A bright flame burned above Formosa Plastics plant in Point Comfort on Tuesday morning as natural gas was burned off from a flare stack.

"There has not been an explosion, and no personnel are in danger," said Bill Harvey, the plant spokesman.

Low overnight temperatures caused a faulty pressure reading in the system, leading to a build up in gases, which were vented through the flare, according to a reportable event notification from the plant to TCEQ.

The emissions event was reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Tuesday evening, said TCEQ spokeswoman Andrea Morrow. She said reportable emissions events must be self-reported to TCEQ within 24 hours.

According to the report, the Point Comfort plant rerouted built-up gases to the vent gas system to be burned off and reset the equipment that gave the faulty pressure reading.

Though capturing natural gas is the most environmentally friendly option, flaring is considered by scientists to be a better option than allowing the gas to escape into the atmosphere. Natural gas is largely composed of methane gas, which has greater heat-trapping qualities than carbon dioxide.

Pound for pound, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is more than 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, according the Environmental Protection Agency.

Flaring at the Point Comfort plant began 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and was expected to continue until 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the report. The flames were visible from U.S. Highway 185 near Crescent Valley on Tuesday morning.

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