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HomeNewsArchivesHOVENSA BLAMES FIRE ON FUEL-LIKE SUBSTANCE LEAK

HOVENSA BLAMES FIRE ON FUEL-LIKE SUBSTANCE LEAK

May 16, 2001 – The accidental release and ignition of a gasoline-like substance was the cause of a fire that seriously injured one worker at the Hovensa refinery on St. Croix, company officials said Wednesday.
According to Hovensa officials, the Tuesday fire, which resulted in a cutback in the refinery's capacity to produce gasoline, appears to have started when leaking "light hydrocarbon" was ignited by heat from nearby processing equipment. Officials described light hydrocarbon as being similar in composition to gasoline.
Hovensa’s fire brigade controlled the towering blaze in less than an hour, a company statement said, then, as a safety measure, allowed the light hydrocarbon flowing from the processing equipment to burn until what remained could be isolated and cleaned up.
One refinery worker was seriously injured in the blaze, with third-degree burns over 35 percent of his body. After being treated at the Juan F. Luis Hospital on Tuesday afternoon, he was airlifted that evening to the Burn Treatment Center at the University of Texas, Galveston. The unidentified man’s injuries are not life threatening, Hovensa officials said.
Four other workers were given first aid and released from the refinery’s medical unit during the emergency.
Hovensa officials are continuing to investigate the accident, particularly the source of the light hydrocarbon leak. The damaged equipment will be inspected as soon as possible so that any needed steps can be taken to resume production, officials said.
"The fire at the platformer hasn’t affected our ability to process crude oil at all," Alex Moorhead, Hovensa vice president for human resources, said. "It is only our ability to produce gasoline that has been reduced — and will be until the unit is back in operation."
Meanwhile, Dean Plaskett, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said his agency was looking into possible environmental impacts of the fire. Of concern are the smoke and fumes that drifted into neighboring communities and also runoff from the substance used to douse the blaze, he said.
"We have no conclusion at this point," Plaskett said, "and the investigation continues."

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May 16, 2001 – The accidental release and ignition of a gasoline-like substance was the cause of a fire that seriously injured one worker at the Hovensa refinery on St. Croix, company officials said Wednesday.
According to Hovensa officials, the Tuesday fire, which resulted in a cutback in the refinery's capacity to produce gasoline, appears to have started when leaking "light hydrocarbon" was ignited by heat from nearby processing equipment. Officials described light hydrocarbon as being similar in composition to gasoline.
Hovensa’s fire brigade controlled the towering blaze in less than an hour, a company statement said, then, as a safety measure, allowed the light hydrocarbon flowing from the processing equipment to burn until what remained could be isolated and cleaned up.
One refinery worker was seriously injured in the blaze, with third-degree burns over 35 percent of his body. After being treated at the Juan F. Luis Hospital on Tuesday afternoon, he was airlifted that evening to the Burn Treatment Center at the University of Texas, Galveston. The unidentified man’s injuries are not life threatening, Hovensa officials said.
Four other workers were given first aid and released from the refinery’s medical unit during the emergency.
Hovensa officials are continuing to investigate the accident, particularly the source of the light hydrocarbon leak. The damaged equipment will be inspected as soon as possible so that any needed steps can be taken to resume production, officials said.
"The fire at the platformer hasn’t affected our ability to process crude oil at all," Alex Moorhead, Hovensa vice president for human resources, said. "It is only our ability to produce gasoline that has been reduced -- and will be until the unit is back in operation."
Meanwhile, Dean Plaskett, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said his agency was looking into possible environmental impacts of the fire. Of concern are the smoke and fumes that drifted into neighboring communities and also runoff from the substance used to douse the blaze, he said.
"We have no conclusion at this point," Plaskett said, "and the investigation continues."