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Canada refinery suffers major explosion and fire during turnaround

09 October 2018

An explosion at the Irving Oil Refinery in St John, New Brunswick, started a major fire on October 8. Local sources said 3,000 people were at the site when the incident happened, mostly contractors working on a turnaround at the facility. The company confirmed that all its workers and contractors were accounted for. 

St John Refinery - Image: Irving Oil
St John Refinery - Image: Irving Oil

A local hospital said five people working on the site had been admitted with non-life threatening injuries and were later discharged.

A company official told reporters there had been a malfunction in the refinery’s diesel treating unit, where sulphur is removed from diesel fuel.

The Irving Oil facility is Canada’s largest refinery, producing – according to the company’s website – more than 320,000 barrels of finished energy products a day. It employs 1,400 workers when fully operational. Much of the plant had been shut down for the turnaround.

St John Mayor Don Darling said the city is working with Irving Oil and the province’s Emergency Measures Organization (EMO), which co-ordinates responses to such events, to assess the situation. Work Safe New Brunswick has launched an investigation, and the EMO is working with the province’s Ministry of Environment to monitor air quality.

He said no evacuation is planned for the area, but initially encouraged people to stay in their homes and away from the site. He said the refinery has been shut down, and regulators will decide when it is ready to resume operations.

 


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