PONCA CITY, Okla. (Dec. 20, 2007) — Officials at Continental Carbon Co. announced Dec. 19 that a heat exchanger failure occurred at the carbon black producer's Ponca City production line late that morning, resulting in the release of a mixture of oil vapor, steam and sulfur compounds.
As a result, a "visible yellow-blue haze" moved under the power of moderate winds from the plant, located on the southwest side of Ponca City, in a northwest direction, the company said in a news release.
The incident, which occurred at about 10:15 a.m., caused an immediate shutdown of one production unit at the plant, and steam was injected into the system to prevent any further damage or need for additional emergency response, Continental Carbon said. The steam release is a safety measure designed to protect personnel and equipment, the company said.
The initial oil vapor and subsequent steam release both passed through a bag filter complex before being released into the atmosphere. The bag filter is designed to collect carbon black and prevent its release.
While the contents, quantity and duration of the release did not create a health issue, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and local public safety officials were promptly notified, Continental Carbon said. The production unit is expected to be restarted by Dec. 22, after appropriate repairs, inspection and tests are conducted, the company said.