TUSCOLA — At about 1 p.m. today, the LyondellBasell chemical plant in Tuscola experienced a power failure that resulted in significant flaring, the company said in a news release this evening.
The company said flares are a safety feature designed to securely burn excess material during an operational interruption, which cannot be recovered or recycled.
"The black smoke seen at the plant is associated with the flare, which is caused by a loss of steam in the flare system. There is no fire at the plant and there were no injuries as a result of this incident," the company said.
The company said it is working to eliminate the black smoke and flaring as quickly as possible. The products being burned in the flare are primarily ethanol and ethylene which are used in consumer products, the company said.
The Tuscola plant employs about 100 people and occupies nearly 900 acres just west of Tuscola, 625 East U.S. 36, according to the LyondellBasell website.
The site produces ethyl alcohol, diethyl ether and specialty polymers. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is used in many health care and personal product applications such as hair spray, capsule manufacturing, hand sanitizer and pharmaceutical cleaning, according to the company.
Diethyl ether finds applications as a laboratory reagent solution, usage in chemical synthesis, as an ammunition drier and starter fluid.
The specialty polymers produced in Tuscola include microfine powders used as additives in personal care products, lubricants, binding agents, water filtration systems, and moisture barriers.
With 13,000 employees, LyondellBasell is one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world. LyondellBasell has 55 manufacturing sites in 17 countries, according to the company, with global headquarters in London and U.S. headquarters in Houston.
LyondellBasell said in the news release that it would provide more information as it becomes available.