According to news reports, Continental Carbon’s carbon black plant in Ponca City, Oklahoma experienced an equipment failure yesterday morning (Wednesday, December 19, 2007), forcing an emergency shut down and leading to the release of steam, oil vapor and sulfur compounds. There were no injuries or health hazards associated with the incident, and no surrounding homes or businesses needed to be evacuated. The incident was triggered by the failure of a heat exchanger — when plant instruments detected the failure, steam was pumped through the heated carbon black feedstock to prevent it from igniting, thus leading to the release. Continental Carbon reported the incident as an excess emission event to the Department of Environmental Quality, and the DEQ is investigating. More information on the incident here and here.
No word yet on how long the plant will be shut down. More later.
Update: The failure occurred in the oil preheater for one of the plant’s tread units. The unit will be back up on Saturday (12/22). Concarb reports it has adequate inventory to handle the shut down.