Alon Texas Refinery Explosion Began in Chemical Unit (Update1)
2008-02-19 09:42 (New York)
By Christian Schmollinger and Jim Kennett
Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) — Alon USA Energy Inc. said an
explosion that shut its refinery in Big Spring, Texas, yesterday
started in a chemical-making unit and ignited fires in storage
tanks, injuring four workers.
The explosion occurred at the facility’s propylene unit,
causing fires in asphalt and slop-oil tanks, Alon said in a
filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. An
asphalt tank was still burning at the time the report was
Joseph Israel, an Alon spokesman, said in a telephone
interview that he didn’t know when the refinery, which closed
after the blast, would return to operation.
The workers’ injuries “are not believed to be life-
threatening,” Dallas-based Alon said in a statement yesterday.
The cause of the blast, which occurred at about 8:15 a.m.
central time, isn’t known, the company said.
Alon reported emissions releases as a result of the
explosion from the asphalt storage area, two different flaring
units, a gasoline-making unit and the tank farm. The refinery
office collapsed in the accident, requiring the company to file
the report from an unidentified person’s home.
The fire, which has been contained, is in the process of
being extinguished, and an investigation will begin as soon as
possible, Alon said.
“The refinery is totally offline right now,” Blake Lewis
of Richardson, Texas-based Lewis Public Relations, which
represents Alon, said in a telephone interview. “We’re not
doing anything to ration or control the supply of product. We
have product available.”
Oil supplies to the refinery have been cut, he said. The
refinery, which can process 70,000 barrels of oil a day, is
located about 290 miles (467 kilometers) west of Dallas. It
serves markets in West Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
Gasoline for March delivery today rose for a fourth day, by
4.1 percent to $2.5967 a gallon in New York at 9:24 a.m.
Alon “will make all the appropriate arrangements to keep
customers supplied,” Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morris said
in a statement.
–With reporting by Jordan Burke and Robert Tuttle in New York
and Nadja Brandt in Los Angeles. Editors: Reinie Booysen, Kim