Category Archives: Refinery safety

“It sounded like a bomb went off”: Residents react after White Lake refinery explosion

[Note from BenIndy: Another day, another refinery explosion. Take  a minute to review the drone footage available below. Particularly striking in this article was the resident quoted as admitting that she and many of her neighbors were unaware that they lived in close proximity to a refinery. This is not uncommon in refinery towns, including Benicia. What if there had been an urgent need to evacuate nearby residential neighborhoods? Situations like this demonstrate just how important clear, timely, and accurate communication between industrial/corporate interests, local government, local media, and the general public is to protecting the health and safety of refinery-town residents. An informed and engaged community is a safer and healthier community.]

CBS Detroit, by Luke Laster, November 26, 2023

WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – White Lake police and township fire officials are working to discover the cause of an explosion at a refinery plant in White Lake Friday night.

It happened shortly before 10:30 p.m. in the area of Young Road and Bogie Lake Road.

It took a few hours before crews put it out, and White Lake Township’s fire chief, John Holland, says they don’t yet know what caused the flames.

“Everything shook. I was afraid. I didn’t know what the heck was happening,” says White Lake resident Chelsea Vanhorn.

Vanhorn lives in Cedarbrook Estates, a mobile home park just over a mile away from the fossil fuel recovery plant owned and operated by Hound Resources.

“My plants fell off my shelves. I thought we got bombed,” Vanhorn said.

Following what Vanhorn said was the explosion that shook her home, other residents of the mobile home park found themselves outside with their phones rolling around 10:30 p.m. Friday. It was then that she caught a second explosion on camera.

She says she didn’t even know a refinery was nearby. Many of her neighbors didn’t know either.

“We all go down by the clubhouse, you know. Try to follow it to see what it is, and it was a huge fire. The biggest fire I’ve seen. It was huge and the blackest smoke. It was so black. It was very scary,” Vanhorn said.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Ohio firefighters battle massive flames in containing oil refinery fire

[Note from BenIndy: Once again, from one refinery town another, Benicia surely empathizes and sympathizes with those impacted by this large refinery fire in Ohio that took 75 firefighters to contain. Impacts to nearby soil and waterways are currently under investigation. Remember, according to the WSJ, there ‘hasn’t been a major new oil refinery built in the U.S. since the 1970s, and many plants are more than 100 years old.’ That same article linked above also notes that, according to the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, ‘2021 was the worst year for serious incidents at U.S. refineries since 2015, measured by hours worked, with the rate of so-called process-safety events 25% higher than in 2019 and 2020.’  As refineries continue to deteriorate, the rate of serious incidents seems likely to increase.]

November 22, 2023 

COLUMBUS — Ohio firefighters battled an oil refinery fire for several hours Tuesday night.

Columbus firefighters were dispatched just after 8 p.m. to GFL Columbus Refinery across from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and were put out after 10 p.m., according to our news partner WBNS in Columbus.

It is also located near John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Firefighters had to deal with massive flames when they arrived at the scene.

Whitehall Division of Fire provided mutual aid and posted videos and photos of the fire on its social media page.

Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Jeffrey Geitter told WBNS crews worked to keep other surrounding tanks cool to keep the fire from spreading.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Massive Fire & Explosion Today at Texas Petroleum Processing Plant: ‘Effects of the Chemical in the Air Are Unknown’

[Note from BenIndy: It is fascinating how hard it is to find and pin down good coverage of industrial accidents – especially refinery fires, plant explosions, and so on – when they occur in Texas. We have Common Dreams and ABC13/KTRK in Texas to thank for their coverage today. Perhaps more information about the source of the fire, the danger the toxic smoke and particles in the air in Shepherd may pose, and any additional impacts will be made more available tomorrow. From one refinery town to another, Benicia surely sends Shepherd its heartfelt hopes for a speedy recovery for the town, a thorough investigation of the root causes for this absolutely heinous disaster, and the creation of additional protections for the safety and health of its residents.]

Aerial view of chemical fire in Shepherd, Texas on November 8, 2023. | Fox News 26 / Screenshot.

The explosion resulted in a massive fire as residents in and around the town of Shepherd were ordered to stay inside and turn off their HVAC systems to avoid contact with the toxic smoke and particles in the air.

Common Dreams, by Common Dreams Staff, November 8, 2023

At least one worker was reported injured and the surrounding community placed under a shelter-in-place order after an explosion at a chemical plant in the town of Shepherd, Texas on Wednesday resulted in a monstrous and toxic fire.

Roughly 60 miles north of Houston in Jacinto County, the explosion and subsequent chemical blaze took place at the Sound Resource Solutions facility, a petroleum processing plant. A source told ABC 13 News that a 1,000-gallon propane tank sits in the middle of the fire while various highly flammable toxic chemicals and materials are used at the plant.

“Polk County Emergency Management recommends that residents along US Hwy 59 from Goodrich to Leggett shelter-in-place and turn off HVAC systems in homes and businesses immediately,” said a local emergency response from officials in neighboring Polk County. “At this time, the effects of the chemical in the air are unknown.”

According to the Sound Resource Solutions website, the chemical products and solvents used or generated at the processing plant include: xylene, toluene, acetone, methy ethyl ketone, phosphoric acid, acetic acid, sulfuric acid 93, various isoproply alcohols, hexan, and others.

Local affiliate Fox 26 was providing live coverage:

There is no confirmed information about the cause of the fire, though some local outlets reported talking with workers who said a forklift accident may have been the initial cause that set off a larger chain reaction.

Residents concerned about smoke; officials ‘let it burn’

March 19, 2019, 3:15pm Pacific Time

2 Updates on petrochemical plant fire in Texas…

40 mins ago

… are concerned about the air quality and possible negative effects of the smoke plume moving across the city …


No timetable for end to fire at Texas chemical facility – CBS7

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