Experts express concern about refinery safety in wake of Irving blast

09 October, 2018, 15:30 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Explosions rock Canada’s largest oil refinery as energy company confirms ‘major incident'

An explosion and fire Monday shook the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, the largest supplier of Maine's gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil.

One Facebook user living nearby reported feeling a "bed-shaking explosion" at around 10:15 a.m.

Several photos on social media showed flames at the refinery.

At this hour, it's unknown if there are injuries.

"We're very grateful today - and being Thanksgiving, I think it's appropriate", Kevin Scott, Irving Oil's chief refining and supply officer, told reporters at an afternoon briefing after a tense day.

Scott said there had been a malfunction in the refinery's diesel treating unit, where sulphur is removed from diesel fuel, the Calgary Herald reported.

Compounding the issue is aging infrastructure, which Tucker said has led to a major fire or explosion occurring in Canada "every two years or so". "I thought my furnace had exploded", said Litsa Daeres, 34, who opened her curtains and saw the flames and thick, black smoke.

The refinery is near several residential neighborhoods on Saint John's east side.


While emergency response crews are on the scene, it is not clear how many units are there.

He added when he walked outside he saw thick black smoke billowing so he hopped in his vehicle to take a closer look. Five people with injuries from the explosion were treated at Saint John Regional Hospital, and all have been released, Horizon Health Network said in a statement.

A professor whose primary area of research is occupational health and safety says oil refineries surrounded by communities need to work harder to ensure safety.

"Our aim is to grow our community programs, so we can continuously improve this vital relationship", the website says.

According to the Irving website, the refinery produces more than 320,000 barrels of "finished energy products" every day, with more than half going the US northeast.

Nate Guimond, 36, said he was doing house repairs when he saw smoke.

Rob Beebe felt the explosion from his apartment on Martha Avenue, a few streets over from the refinery. "We will update as soon as we have more information".

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