Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Saint John residents warned of possible flare-ups at Irving refinery

Irving Oil Explosion Irving Oil says a"major incident happened at its oil refinery in Saint John N.B. this morning
Patty Aguilar | 09 October, 2018, 15:31

Emergency measures officials say there were believed to be only "a couple" minor injuries from the massive oil refinery explosion that shook Saint John, N.B., this morning.

Steeves said the incident reminded him of a similar event in the late 90s, when the same refinery suffered a similar explosion which left one person dead.

"My whole house shook", she said.

Images posted on social media networks showed intermittent flames and a column of black smoke rising from the refinery, the country's largest with a production capacity of 300,00 barrels of refined products a day.

Melanson said he has seen explosions like this on YouTube at oil refineries around the world, but never seen anything like this in Saint John.

"I think we need more attention there, and it would lead to safe proximity for residential communities", he said.

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Litsa Daeres, 34, who lives nearby, said she just started preparing Canadian Thanksgiving dinner when she heard a loud bang.

At 4 p.m. local time, residents were still being asked to stay in their homes, and nearby streets remained closed.

A professor whose primary area of research is occupational health and safety says oil refineries surrounded by communities need to work harder to ensure safety.

Hynes says they are now on a stand-down while the investigation continues, and that they are waiting to see if they can get back in to the plant to work tonight. But District Chief Mike Carr of Saint John fire said there were no air quality concerns, other than the smoke. Authorities from the health department, province, environment department and the refinery itself were opposed, but the city gave the go-ahead.

"All employees have been confirmed safe and are accounted for". There will be very few people working assisting operations and these individuals will be contacted.

- With files from Alex Cooke in Halifax and Alanna Rizza and Nicole Thompson in Toronto.

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