Refinery fire isolated and contained: Irving Oil
Published Tuesday, October 9, 2018 5:25AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 9, 2018 10:47PM EDT
The mayor of Saint John has called for a full review of emergency preparedness plans in the wake of the refinery explosion that rocked his city.
The fire stemming from an explosion at a New Brunswick Irving Oil refinery has been contained and doesn’t pose a risk to the rest of the facility, according to the company.
Irving Oil provided an update on Tuesday following an explosion that shook Saint John on Monday morning that spewed plumes of black smoke into the sky that could be seen from several kilometres away.
Now Mayor Don Darling has called for a comprehensive review of emergency plans.
He told CTVNews: “This was a pretty scary event for folks yesterday.
“So I want to acknowledge that and citizens of this city that communication will be part of a review of our post event as well and certainly it would appear that we had gaps in terms of the timeliness.”
As many as 3,000 workers were on site at the time of the fire, but the incident resulted in just a few minor injuries.
Gordon Dalzell, who lives in the Champlain Heights neighbourhood near the refinery, is concerned about the delay in getting the emergency message out to the public.
“One woman came up to me in the car and she said ‘Gordon we have to evacuate,’” he said.
“Just the fact she had to ask me that question, a community member, neighbor on the street, it tells you that there’s something wrong.
“There’s been a breakdown in public communications.”
The extent of the damage at the refinery is still unknown, as is more specific information about the cause of the fire.
“We regret that this incident has happened and are sorry for the impact that it has had on so many in our community,” Irving Oil wrote in the statement.
Irving also indicated the fire hasn’t impacted the air quality in the region.
Irving Oil is expecting employees with the turnaround team to return to the facility for their night shift Tuesday evening, where plans for returning to turnaround mode will be discussed.
Saint John Mayor Don Darling told CTV’s Your Morning that the community should feel blessed knowing there were no deaths associated with the fire and thanked first responders for their hard work in handling the incident.
“I think our teams performed their jobs flawlessly,” he said on Tuesday.
Officials believe the fire began at the refinery’s diesel treating unit, where fuel is separated from sulphur.
Darling believes more information will be available in the coming weeks.
“I would expect that there is a significant and comprehensive post-event review,” he said. “Certainly there will be a lot of work as we come out of a day that… shook the community.”
Firefighters were praised for how they tackled the blaze and some remain at the scene tackling hot spots at Canada’s largest refinery.
The City of Saint John tweeted Monday afternoon that, as the refinery stabilizes, residents might witness flare-ups. The city added that crews will remain on site to monitor the situation.
With files from The Canadian Press
#SJEMO Update - As part of the normal stabilization process on site at the Refinery, Saint John EMO is advising the public that there is a possibility for flare ups to occur. Crews are onsite and monitoring.— City of Saint John (@cityofsaintjohn) October 8, 2018