The Chocolate Bayou Plant is a world class chemical plant located in Alvin, Texas about 40 miles south of Houston. The plant chemical processes are cooled by 3 mechanical draft-cooling towers with a combined recirculation rate of 267,000 gpm. In March, Cooling Tower 4 experienced a catastrophic failure of the #8 fan. The root caused investigation indicated serious corrosion problems with fan equipment, reliability problems with vibration detection system and ineffective routine inspection on both fan and vibration detection equipment. The root cause analysis recommended immediate investigation into the mechanical integrity of all plant cooling tower fans and vibration detection equipment. The results of the system wide investigation resulted in extensive repairs to existing mechanical fan equipment, repairs to vibration detection systems and significant changes in preventative maintenance routines.

01-05: Cooling Tower #4, Fan Failure

  • Dennis P. Shea, Shelby Sustala, Solutia, Inc.