PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

April 14, 2013

Smoke rises over PA after outage; Refinery operations, 17,000 customers affected by power loss


The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Columns of blueblack smoke from flares surrounding Port Arthur rose into steel gray overcast skies Sunday morning after a power outage cut the lights for 17,900 Entergy customers, including industrial facilities.

The main transmission line that serves the area was lost after an apparent short circuit at the Kolbs substation on 39th Street in Port Arthur, at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Debi Derrick, Entergy spokesperson, said in a telephone interview.

She said after safety considerations at the substation were taken care of, Entergy switched to other power sources and was able to begin restoring power to many of its customers. By 1 p.m. power was restored, she said.

Port Arthur police reported via Blackboard Connect that a transformer fire at 9:26 a.m. at the substation had caused the outage. Derrickk said that there was no fire. She said the arcing caused by a short circuit is often mistaken for fire. A thorough investigation into the cause of the outage is under way, she said.

Numerous flares from industries along Texas 73 could be seen producing thick smoke.

Flint Hills was the first refinery to report the power outage to the Southeast Texas Alerting Network. Its report said, "Due to an apparent loss of electricity, operations require flaring. Flares are safety devices that allow us to safely burn excess gasses. No action needed at this time." That alert was posted at 10:23 a.m. Sunday.

The Motiva Port Arthur facility reported at alert at 10:36 a.m.

Total Petrochemicals and Refining USA on FM 366 said it experienced a fire within its facility. At 11:11 a.m. Total reported that the refinery's emergency response team had responded and the fire was contained and under control. There were no reported injuries to refinery or contractor personnel nor was there any danger to the community. Total did not say if the fire was directly associated with the power outage.