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Tulsa refinery employee burned

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    Freddy Martinez
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    Tulsa refinery employee burned

    The accident occurred at this refinery, which the Holly Corp. bought from Sunoco last year. The refinery sits across the Arkansas River from downtown Tulsa. STEPHEN HOLMAN/Tulsa World
     

    Published: 1/14/2010  10:40 AM
    Last Modified: 1/14/2010  6:14 PM

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    A 41-year-old Holly Corp. refinery worker was burned over much of his body Thursday morning when hot water gushed out of a coke drum, plant and emergency officials said.
    Greg Horton was burned over about 70 percent of his body, according to emergency officials. The accident occurred at the Holly refinery formerly owned by Sunoco Inc. near 17th Street and Union Avenue.
    The refinery fire brigade responded to the 7:40 a.m. accident, after which Horton was taken by ambulance to Hillcrest Medical Centers burn unit in serious condition, officials said.
    Horton was later upgraded to good condition, Hillcrest spokeswoman Beth Ann Wallace said.
    Horton was a coker operator and had worked at the refinery about two years.
    Were devastated by this, said Holly plant manager Jim Resinger, who oversees both west Tulsa refineries owned by the company. Its a serious incident, and we need to get down to the root cause of what happened.
    Holly bought the plant from longtime owner Sunoco in June for $65 million. The incident Thursday was Hollys first serious accident since the acquisition.
    Hollys preliminary investigation indicates that Horton was de-heading the bottom of a coke drum, in which residual fuel is cracked or further refined into other petroleum products. He reportedly was wearing the required safety equipment and trying to finish draining any remaining condensates in the drum, Resinger said.
    They noticed that it stopped flowing, so they felt it was all drained out, the plant manager said. As they unbolted

    and broke the seal on the bottom head, a large gush of hot water came out and struck him.
    Last month, Dallas-based Holly purchased the nearby Sinclair Corp. refinery for about $128.5 million plus the inventory value, pushing the total up to about $300 million.
    Holly operates the two refineries as one unit and plans eventually to connect them by pipeline. Capable of processing 125,000 barrels per day, the refineries specialize in ultra low sulfur diesel, speciality lubricants and other products.
    More than 600 people work at the combined plants.
    In April 1999, an explosion rocked a Sunoco coker unit and its absorber tower. The blast did not injure any workers but caused a fire and produced a shock wave felt for miles.

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