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An explosion at a Husky Energy refinery in Wisconsin yesterday injured at least 20 people before the fire was put out, media report. Residents of Superior have been encouraged to remain outside their homes after the evacuation for another couple of hours.
The explosion occurred in midmorning yesterday and prompted the immediate evacuation of the local residents. The state of emergency declared by the Superior authorities will remain in place overnight as will the evacuation order, the local police said in a tweet. Local residents are already going back to their homes, despite the order.
The injured have been taken to hospitals and, according to a statement from Husky Energy, all are in stable condition.
UPI reported, citing local Wisconsin media, that the initial blast ignited asphalt and was followed by seven or eight more explosions. The causes of the blast will likely be revealed after due investigation.
The extinguishing of the fire was initially problematic because once the asphalt ignited it produced smoke so thick and hot that the firefighters could not come near enough the fire to start putting it out.
Despite the refinery being located in an industrial area, there is a residential area about a mile from it. According to the mayor of Superior, most of the residents of the town of 27,000 were evacuated following the explosion.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the Superior refinery had been fined by federal authorities three years ago, when it was still owned by Calumet Specialty Products Partners, which Husky Energy bought it from in 2017 for US$490 million. The Occupational and Health Administration fined Calumet US$21,000 for violations of emergency response and flammable liquids regulation.
The refinery was built back in the 1950s and has a processing capacity of 50,000 barrels of crude daily, with its feedstock coming from Alberta’s oil sands and from North Dakota’s Bakken shale play. It can also store 3.6 million barrels of crude and oil products.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.