November 24, 2009 at 8:12 pm #2861
Husky Refinery Restart Proceeding After Oil Release (Update4)
By Aaron Clark and Blake Ellis
Nov. 23, 2009 (Bloomberg) — Husky Energy Inc. is going ahead with the startup of its Lima, Ohio, refinery after a 4 million- gallon oil tank boiled over yesterday and spewed coker feedstock as far as five miles.
We are still proceeding with startup, Graham White, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview. Workers boomed off two areas in the Ottawa River as part of the cleanup process, he said.
Oil tank No. 57 boiled over splitting open the top of the fixed roof tank, according to an incident report Husky filed yesterday with Ohios Environmental Protection Agency. Company noted event was during startup event. Company noted the event is stopped and an investigation is ongoing, according to the report filed yesterday.
The 160,000-barrel-a-day plant, which accounts for about 4.2 percent of the refining capacity in the Midwest, or PADD 2 region, of the U.S., began returning from more than a month of maintenance Nov. 19, a state regulator said last week.
About 49,000 gallons of oil are estimated to have been released, according to Mick Hans, a spokesman for the U.S. Environment Protection Agency. That estimate may be revised lower as tank capacities are determined, he said.
The oil was released from the storage tank, which holds the product before its fed into a coker, said Russ Decker, director of the Allen County Emergency Management Agency, in a telephone interview. Cokers use thermal processing to convert heavy refinery streams such as vacuum bottoms into light products such as heating oil.
Up in a Cloud
When the oil released, it went up in a cloud and the air carried it, said Decker. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are investigating the release and the cleanup will take weeks, he said.
Its basically like a pressure cooker, and the pressure blew the top off the bulk tank, said Dina Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Ohio EPA. The release is estimated to have traveled about five miles downwind of the plant, she said.
More than 100 houses in the area may have been affected and Husky has set up a free carwash in the area, according to Hans.
About a couple hundred vehicles, as well as a city park and a cemetery, were also affected, Pierce said. The river is looking good right now, she said. Fallen leaves and vegetation in the area are being collected so that when the water rises and falls, the oil wont get pulled back into the water.
Maintenance at the refinery started in October and was scheduled to last 42 days and affect 72 percent of the plants units, the company said in September. Achieving normal production levels after processing units are shut down can take days or even weeks as operators return the units to normal heat and pressure levels.
The release occurred at 9:45 a.m. yesterday, Husky said in the recorded message left on a community hot line. The release isnt anticipated to be harmful to people or animals and the storage tank has been safely sealed, according to the message.
Two domesticated ducks are the only wildlife to have been affected so far, Decker said. The ducks were treated by a local veterinarian.
To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Clark in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org; Blake Ellis in New York at email@example.com Last Updated: November 23, 2009 17:35 EST
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