Blast leaves dozens injured at Wisconsin oil refinery, reports say
27 April, 2018, 00:31 | Author: Diane Mills
Fire crews and other emergency services in Wisconsin are responding to an explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, officials and witnesses say. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger said the fire was out by 11:20 a.m., although smoke could be seen rising from the plant.
It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion. The refinery is in an industrial area, but there's a residential neighborhood within a mile to the northeast. The corridor downwind to the south is sparsely populated.
Initial reports are at least 20 people have been transported to local hospitals. There are injuries, which are being treated at hospital and on site. Chief Panger says walking wounded on location as well.
Superior police has asked people to stay away from the area.
Essentia Health closed all of its facilities in Superior, including the entire St. Mary's Hospital out of an "abundance of caution", a spokesperson said.
About 180 people work at the refinery, built in 1950. WDIOreported that workers were being evacuated from the building.
Eric Mathews, a boilermaker for Wales, Wis. -based CTS Inc. that has contractors working inside the refinery, said he was about 200 yards away on break when the initial blast occurred, according to the Duluth Tribune. She said the windows shook.
"It felt like a truck hit the building", she said. She also wondered if a plane had crashed and feared her house might collapse.
There was no immediate evacuation order, but by lunchtime, they had to go. Large plumes of black smoke quickly became visible as the fire spread. I put the cats in my vehicle, . we grabbed our toothbrushes and just left. "We didn't know what it was".
Tudor, a scientist at a research company, said residents haven't been told much about the potential danger, what is in the smoke or why it is so black.
Though it wasn't certain what was in the tank that burned, oil smoke can contain a mix of noxious hydrocarbons and other chemicals with potential short- and long-term health effects.
Husky purchased the refinery last year from Calumet last year.
Cheryl Thielman, 58, who manages a mobile home park near the refinery, told AFP that the explosion was a "huge boom". The Superior Fire Department later updated that number to five. The violations were settled and the problems resolved by the end of that year. "We can't get people close enough to actually put the fire out". About 50,000 barrels - or 2.3 million gallons - of oil per day can be processed at the refinery, located at 2407 Stinson Ave.
The refinery processes crude oil from the Canadian and North Dakota fields.
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