Oregon - Refinery fire, explosions at Sunoco's MidAmerica Marketing & Refining; fourth fire since Aug '99

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Refinery fire cause sought

March 8, 2000


Officials of Sunoco MidAmerica Marketing & Refining and U.S. Filter continued an investigation yesterday into a fire and explosions that occurred Monday at Sunoco's Oregon refinery but released few new details.

Olivia Summons, the public affairs director for Sunoco MidAmerica, said the accident occurred in a vessel known as an "API separator" that is the first stage in recovering petroleum from wastewater at the refinery. While commonly referred to as an "oil pit," the vessel has a fiberglass cover and is completely sealed during normal operations, she said.

Investigators are trying to determine the source of ignition in the separator, which is about the size of a municipal swimming pool, Ms. Summons said.

Sunoco sold the wastewater treatment systems at the refinery to U.S. Filter two years ago.

Ms. Summons said duplicate facilities exist so the accident at one of them does not impede refinery operations.

Scott Edwards, a U.S. Filter spokesman, agreed and said the accident had not caused any illegal waste discharges.

An assessment of damage from the accident likely will take at least several days to complete, Mr. Edwards said.

The Oregon fire department is not participating in the investigation but will receive a report when it is finished, Assistant Fire Chief Bill Flanagan said. While the blaze was the fourth fire at the Sunoco refinery since August, Chief Flanagan said he isn't concerned.

"It's just the nature of the beast - the type of industry," he said, observing that refineries work with highly flammable materials under extreme temperatures and pressures.

Source: The Toledo Blade


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


Fire Chief Flanagan must be one brave man to say he was not concerned about this fire and explosions. Obviously, he wasn't standing nearby when a steel catwalk was tossed 30 yards and other metal blew 65 to 70 feet in the air! Excuse my cynicism, but cavalier attitudes during serious situations really bug me. Maybe we need a new category on theis board named "Duh Awards" heh heh. Here's the earlier story.....

Fire, explosions damage refinery in Oregon

March 7, 2000


A fire punctuated by several explosions at the Sunoco refinery in Oregon sent acrid black smoke billowing into the East Toledo sky yesterday but caused no injuries.

The accident occurred in an oil recovery system at the refinery's wastewater treatment plant, said Olivia Summons, director of public affairs for Sunoco MidAmerica Marketing & Refining.

The wastewater plant is owned and operated by U.S. Filter Corp., which bought that part of the refinery from Sunoco two years ago.

Oregon firefighters stand by as employees of Sunoco battle a blaze at the refinery. (Toledo Blade photo by Rachel Rice)

U.S. Filter managers were en route to the refinery last night to assess the damage and investigate the accident's cause.

The flames were under control within an hour of the 4:45 p.m. alarm, although firefighters were fighting the blaze until 8:30 p.m. when an all-clear was issued. Ms. Summons said the accident is not expected to have any impact on refinery production or on maintenance at the plant.

Dave Wetzel, who was loading yard debris into his truck at his home across Navarre Avenue from the scene, said he first heard a loud hiss that turned into a rumble, then two explosions, the second louder than the first.

"Metal was flying 65 to 70 feet in the air,'' he said.

Dale Etts, who heard the first blast from his mother-in-law's house on Hurd Street, said he saw the second explosion toss a steel catwalk about 30 yards.

Several more explosions occurred after firefighters arrived, with at least one of them strong enough to shake the ground. The refinery's fire brigade was assisted by the Oregon Fire Department.

The wastewater plant was built in 1950 and rebuilt in 1993, Ms. Summons said. One of its functions is to separate oil from wastewater and return that oil for use in refining. A mixture of oil and water was in the system involved in the explosions and fire.

The accident is the fourth in the refinery complex since late August; the other three were all in areas Sunoco operates. A plant worker was injured in a Jan. 19 flash fire at a crude-oil heating unit, while a pair of fires last summer cost the company $3.4 million in repairs and lost production.

http://search.excite.com/relo cate/sr=news|ss=;http://www.toledoblade.com:80/editorial/news/0c07refi .htm

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

Moderation questions? read the FAQ