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May 1, 2008 at 12:05 pm #3656
No injuries or evacuations reported
Oil refinery explosion rocks Davis County, ruptured line blamed
By Melinda Rogers
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 05/01/2008 09:48:29 AM MDT (http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_9115952)
It sounded like a boom.
Vanner Johnson, a Woods Cross resident, thought something had fallen over in a bedroom, “something fairly large.”
His wife was pretty sure the noise came from outside.
An explosion at the Holly petroleum refinery shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday reverberated through the surrounding communities, startling residents.
From his porch, Johnson could see smoke rising from the direction of the refinery that straddles the border of Woods Cross and West Bountiful.
Then he noticed the siren.
Every Friday, the nearby refinery tests its emergency siren, Johnson said.
But it was Wednesday.
“Our first concern was: Is there going to be an evacuation?” he recounted.
Johnson grabbed a camera and ran down to the Woods Cross FrontRunner station.
“First, I could only see a lot of black smoke, then when I reached the station, the flames shot up,” he said. “I heard sirens coming from all directions.”
A ruptured pressure safety line in one of the refinery’s units caused the explosion, said Mike Astin, an environmental manager for the Holly Refining & Marketing-Woods Cross.
Astin said workers had discovered the line – which carries pressure relief to the flame passers-by can see from the highway – had a crack in it. As Holly employees were in the process of shutting down the unit to make repairs to the damaged line, it ignited, causing an explosion and fire, he said.
One minor injury was reported from the blast, after a subcontractor across the street from the refinery became startled from the explosion and fell off his truck, Astin said. The man was taken to an area hospital for evaluation.
There were no evacuations, but roads surrounding the refinery were closed off for part of the evening as crews responded to the blaze, said Officer Ryan King of the West Bountiful Police Department.
King said trains were temporarily stopped until the fire was contained.
Astin said the unit where the explosion occurred will temporarily shut down, but the company’s operations overall won’t be sidelined.
The refinery’s fire comes on the heels of a pledge to reduce pollution.
In April, Holly reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to spend millions of dollars updating its pollution controls.
Holly’s promise to make $17 million in improvements and to pay a $120,000 fine for Clean Air Act violations are part of a national effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cut air pollution industrywide.
As part of the deal, the company also will spend $130,000 to help buy new emergency equipment for the South Davis Metro Fire Agency. The Holly refinery can refine nearly 24,700 barrels of oil daily, producing gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
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