NW Indiana - Refinery explosion at BP Amoco in Whiting; largest inland refinery in USA

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No one hurt in refinery fire

March 2, 2000


Dragisa Pajic never heard the blast that erupted at BP Amoco's Whiting, Ind., refinery before dawn today, but he awoke to find his apartment bathed in yellow light.

``The whole room, the walls and everything, were glowing,'' he said.

``It was the freakiest thing. I put my head out the window, and you could feel the heat.''

Fire broke out about 5:05 a.m. in a device that removes sulfur from gas oil, said Thomas P. Keilman, a BP Amoco spokesman. Sulfur removal is a necessary step in refining oil. The fire was contained by 6 a.m.; Amoco firefighters remained at the scene throughout the day waiting for the gas oil inside to burn out. Workers tried to get the fire under control, but had to abandon their efforts. Several small explosions occurred, Keilman said.

``There were no injuries and no threat or danger to the surrounding community,'' he said. Indianapolis Boulevard, a major north-south road through the Northwest Indiana community, was closed for about 90 minutes while company firefighters worked to bring the fire under control.

Hygienists were sent into the community to monitor air quality and ensure no health threat developed, Keilman said. Strong winds early this morning blew much of the thick smoke over the lake.

The fire is not expected to interrupt production at the 1,400-acre site, the nation's largest inland refinery. The unit that caught fire is one of two at the site.

Source: Chicago Sun Times, Illinois


-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), March 09, 2000

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