Flare necessities: What flames mean.
You may have noticed the flame stacks over at the SABIC plant at Wilton were going 10 to the dozen for nine hours yesterday.
But there's nothing to worry about - they're just flaring.
Well, what is flaring? Flares are a safety measure undertaken by many industries such as the petrochemical and oil industries in order to maintain high levels of safety during plant operation.
Flares safely burn off excess hydrocarbon gases, which cannot be recycled or recovered by the plants' processes.
During flaring, excess gases are combined with steam and/or air, and burnt off to produce water vapour and carbon. Right, but I've been hearing a lot of loud noises coming from over there - is that normal? Yes, unfortunately. Noises from flaring are a result of the turbulence created by the mixing of gases in the flare stack.
This may sound like thunder but is completely normal. What about the smoke - you don't usually see that do you? You may not notice smoke if the flaring is going on during the night.
But even during the daytime, smoke from flaring may not be visible.
If black smoke appears, this indicates a lack of steam in the flare system and often occurs during unplanned flaring.
When do plants need to flare? Flaring is more likely to happen during start-ups and shutdowns of plants but can also be caused by a lack of steam or a plant/ machine trip.
In a statement sent to The Gazette, SABIC said: "SABIC uses flaring as a safety precaution but aims to minimise where at all possible to avoid disruption to residents and because it is very costly.
"Flaring ensures a greater level of safety for those working on the plant areas and for the wider community in which SABIC operates."
The Cracker in full burn on the Wilton site at Redcar PETER REIMANN