SAINT-JEAN, N.-B. – A large explosion that caused a fire occurred Monday morning at the refinery, Irving Oil in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Fortunately, the incident, which has produced large flames and a massive plume of black smoke high into the sky, caused minor injuries to four people. The authorities have confessed to being relieved to not have to announce a worse balance sheet.
Irving Oil has confirmed on Twitter at 14 h local time, that all of its employees were in a safe place.
On Monday, the refinery had approximately 3 000 workers, but most of the facilities were closed for important maintenance work. The majority of the injured are contractors contractors who worked on the recovery.
At a press conference after the incident, the person in charge of supply and refining at Irving Oil, Kevin Scott, said the company was very grateful for the turn of events, and that such an outcome was appropriate on this day of thanksgiving.
Robert Duguay, spokeswoman for the emergency measures Organization of New Brunswick, told The canadian Press that the injured people had been fleeing the area.
Mr. Scott revealed that there had been a malfunction in the processing unit of the diesel, where the sulphur is extracted from the fuel.
One employee, who did not want to be identified, said to have been knocked down by the blast of the initial explosion.
“There was a shock wave when the explosion occurred”, he confided at the time of leaving the premises in the company of other colleagues a few hours after the event.
At 16 hours local time, we asked again for residents to stay indoors and the streets nearby were still closed. The district chief of the fire department, Mike Carr, has however assured that there was no danger in terms of the quality of the air, apart from the smoke.
“At this time, the incident is stabilized,” said Mr. Carr.
Gordon Dalzell, who lives in the nearby district of Chaplain Heights is concerned about the thick, black smoke, but mostly of the danger represented by the pollutants that we cannot see or feel.
President of the Coalition citizens for clean air in St. John’s, Mr. Dalzell said that the refinery was rejected already many “volatile organic compounds” into the air which could present a risk to human health.
The refinery is located near several residential areas and about five kilometres from the city centre.
A powerful detonation
Litsa Daeres, who lives near the refinery, said that he had heard a powerful explosion shortly after 10 a.m. Monday morning, while she was preparing the meal of thanksgiving.
“My entire house shook, reported the 34 year old woman. I thought my furnace had exploded.”
Another resident of Saint-Jean, Michael Steeves, said that he was driving his vehicle when he noticed the thick smoke rose above the facility, about a kilometer away.
“From where I was, I could see the flames. I would say they were about a hundred feet in the air. And there was this huge plume of black smoke,” he said, referring to the passage, the memory of an explosion, according to him, similar occurred at the same refinery in the 1990’s during which a person had lost his life.
Hundreds of witnesses watched the scene in the distance, ” said Mr. Steeves.
Nate Guimond, 36 years old, was said to have, for its part, heard a “rumble” and then felt the vibrations of what he believed to be a second explosion when it went to the refinery to board his vehicle.
On his Twitter account, the police of Saint-Jean has invited the citizens to avoid the area, where several streets were closed to traffic.
The premier of New Brunswick, Brian Gallant, said to be in contact with the mayor of Saint-Jean and the emergency measures Organization of the province.
In a message on Twitter, Mr. Gallant has written that his thoughts were with the workers affected and to the community of Saint John.
According to the web site of the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John is the largest in Canada, with a daily production of 320,000 barrels of “energy products finished”.