Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Explosion Under Investigation, Contractor Remains Hospitalized
An investigation is underway into the Phillips 66 Wood River refinery explosion in Roxana, Illinois, that sent a contract worker to the hospital late Sunday afternoon.
“Something Went Wrong” During Crude Unit Restart
Yesterday, a refinery spokesperson confirmed the probe began shortly after emergency crews extinguished the resulting fire on the facility’s second-largest crude processing unit.
“We have two foam pumpers inside the plant,” the spokesperson said. “Most people only see them in parades when we bring them out. We have highly-skilled folks operating them and ready to respond. They train for thousands of hours on the equipment to be ready for situations like these. That’s why the fire was put out so fast.”
The crude processing unit had been offline for routine maintenance and was preparing to restart on February 10th, when “something went wrong” and triggered the explosion shortly before 4:30 p.m.
Contractor Injured in Phillips 66 Refinery Explosion Walked to Ambulance
A contractor suffered burns during the incident, but was apparently able to walk to an ambulance.
According to the Wood River refinery spokesperson, he was undergoing treatment at an area hospital on Tuesday.
No one else was hurt in the explosion, and all other workers were accounted for.
Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Recently Settled EPA Lawsuit
Phillips 66 operates the Wood River refinery as a joint venture with Cenovus Energy, Inc.
Last August, the companies agreed to spend nearly $11 million on pollution controls at the Wood River refinery as part of a settlement with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agreement also included a $475,000 fine and $500,000 to decrease lead paint hazards at certain homes and buildings.
The EPA charged the refinery with more than a dozen Clean Air Act violations after a 2009 operational change caused excessive emissions of sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and benzene.
A month after the settlement was announced, four contractors were hospitalized after suffering “a respiratory exposure” in a refinery tower. Apparently, the workers were cleaning and performing routine maintenance in a confined space when they fell ill.
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