Heartland Rerefinery Down for Now


Heartland Petroleum shut down its Ohio rerefinery Friday to install emissions control systems to address odor concerns and to replace a catalyst. Production is expected to begin again by Dec. 10.

Opened in 2008, the rerefinery in Columbus has 1,500 barrels per day of API Group II capacity. The plant hydrotreats used automotive oil and industrial oils.

A judges court order filed Nov. 16 in Frank County Environmental Court ordered the shutdown, the Ohio Attorney Generals office said. It required two separate measures to remedy odor emissions: a nitrogen blanket system and a closed loop vapor recovery system.

Jim Douglas, Heartland Petroleums general manager, noted the company already had scheduled a turnaround for January. The agreement we came to this week to shut down voluntarily, pending the installation of our nitrogen blanketing system and then the closed loop vapor recovery system on the load rack, is giving us enough window that were bringing the catalyst change-out scheduled for January into the time frame, Douglas told Lube Report. Were hoping to activate the catalyst on Dec. 7, which put us back into production somewhere around the 9th or 10th of December.

The catalyst replacement was a normal, scheduled change. Were at end-of-life on our current hydrotreater, Douglas said. We usually try to get between 12 to 16 months, and hopefully closer to 16 months. This one, because of the timing and with us being down now, we figured this was an opportune time to get that done.

According to Douglas, the refinerys byproduct tanks, mostly associated with its front end process, contain wastewater, a light distillate and then an asphalt flux that comes off as part of the refining process. The light distillate and asphalt are both marketable products. But the one characteristic of all three of those is there is a pretty high sulfur smell to them, he noted. The nitrogen blanket system equalizes pressure in the tanks with nitrogen as opposed to atmospheric air, Douglas explained.

In September 2010, the court issued an order requiring Heartland to study and implement engineering modifications to address emissions violations. Last month, after the attorney general filed charges in contempt, Heartland voluntarily shut down the refinery to make modifications to address recurring emissions issues involving odorous sulfur-containing compounds. The attorney generals office stated that since Heartland resumed operations on Oct. 19, additional emissions control issues have been identified at the refinery that have resulted in continued odor emissions and nuisance conditions.

We are in very much in a collaborative and a cooperative operating condition with regards to our interface with the Ohio EPA, Douglas said. The [attorney general] really only gets involved to the extent that were still operating under court order due to issues from permitting aspects from 2010. But we hope to have those settled actually between now and probably sometime in March.

The agency has been working with Heartland and will continue to work with the company so it can come into compliance with Ohio laws and regulations, be a good environmental steward and a good neighbor, said Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally.

Heartland Petroleum is unrelated to Heartland Automotive Holdings, the Jiffy Lube franchisee.

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