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Evacuation Order Lifted Friday Following Superior Refinery Explosion

Evacuation Order Lifted Friday Following Superior Refinery Explosion

The 50,000 bbl/d refinery in Superior, Wisconsin, was shutting down in preparation for a five-week turnaround, when an explosion was reported yesterday at 10:00 local time. The person was listed in good condition. "The main concern is evacuating residents in the area in a safe and timely manner", said Superior Mayor Jim Paine.

The city lifted its evacuation order at 6 a.m. Friday. The weather service said winds were expected to weaken Thursday evening and eventually shift toward Lake Superior. Residents of Superior have been encouraged to remain outside their homes after the evacuation for another couple of hours.

Firefighters from the city of Superior said cooperation with Husky Energy crews and training helped them deal with the unsafe situation on Thursday.

A DNR spills team is on site monitoring nearby Newton Creek and other areas for spills from the refinery, including runoff from water used to fight the fire.

Pollution experts say the chemicals released in the explosion can linger long after the fire is extinguished.

Investigators searched for the cause of the massive Thursday morning explosion at the refinery, capable of processing up to 38,000 barrels of oil a day, which shook the city of Superior, Wisconsin, home to about 27,000 people. "We found consistent low trace levels well below health risk standards virtually everywhere we went for volatile chemicals, particulates and dust, the kinds of things that can adhere to smoke".

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"The status of the site itself and the personnel we have on scene give us confidence there is no danger to the public for the time being", Paine said.

They said they didn't feel the explosion, but they could definitely see that big, black plume of smoke.

"So while we were trying to be transparent, we were trying to truly protect the public as well".

No fatalities were reported, and all employees and hundreds of contractors working at the refinery were accounted for. Refinery manager Kollin Schade said the smoke was from burning asphalt that was so hot that firefighters were unable to attack the fire to try to put it out.

Calgary, Alberta-based Husky Energy bought the refinery from Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners a year ago for more than $490 million.