Husky Energy Oil Refinery Explosion Injures Several in Superior, Wisconsin
At least 11 people have been hospitalized due to a series of explosions and fires that occurred from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, Wisconsin. According to Essentia Health and St. Luke’s hospital officials, at least one person has been seriously injured, and ten others are being cared for in Duluth and Superior hospitals.
Those residing within two miles north of the refinery were ordered to evacuate around 1 p.m. by the Douglas County Sherriff’s Office per the request of Superior Mayor Jim Paine. To avoid toxic smoke inhalation, those 10 miles south and three miles east and west of the refinery were also encouraged to evacuate to a safer area. The superior police chief, Nick Alexander, stated that the fire could continue burning for at least another two days.
So far there have been a total of 20 injuries, according to Douglas County Medical Examiner Paul Stein.
Contractor Eric Mathews was on break about 200 yards away at the time of the blast. According to Mathews, it was like “a big sonic boom and rattled your brain. I was running and then the debris started falling out of the air… I stopped under a pipe rack and then waited for the debris to stop falling.”
The Wisconsin refinery employs approximately 180 people and produces gasoline, asphalt, and other petroleum products. Manager of media and issues for Calgary-based Husky Energy, Mel Duvall, stated they currently have no information regarding the location of the initial explosion. “We’ll have more information as it becomes available,” stated Duvall.
Details regarding the cause of the explosion and the extent of damage to the refinery is not yet available. Air surveillance showed one of the facility’s large, white storage tanks was fractured and expelling thick black liquid onto the ground. Smells of burning rubber filled the air.
The Husky Energy oil refinery has had a history of violations. The company was fined $21,000 by OSHA in 2015 for emergency response and flammable liquids violations. Four instances of hydrogen sulfide releases due to power outages were also reported in 2012 and 2013, and the refinery was fined for hazardous waste back in 1999.
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