Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Irving Oil confirms 'major incident' at Saint John oil refinery

Irving Oil confirms 'major incident' at Saint John oil refinery

Sean Tucker, an associate professor at the University of Regina who specializes in occupational health and safety, said there's a lot of public concern in Canada about how oil is transported, but not much attention is paid to refineries themselves.

Irving said early Monday afternoon that all employees and contractors at the refinery were accounted for.

According to the Irving website, the refinery produces more than 320,000 barrels of "finished energy products" every day, with more than half going the USA northeast. A tanker was offloading a shipment Monday at the Buckeye terminal, which is connected to an Irving terminal in Bangor via an underground pipeline.

"There is a steady stream of tankers in the harbor from Irving", said Mark Usinger, owner of the A.L. Griffin Inc., a ship chandler in Portland.

That tanker can hold 230,000 barrels of refined petroleum product, according to Sean Petty, the operations manager at Moran Shipping Agencies, which serves as the agent for Irving in the harbor.

"Our aim is to grow our community programs, so we can continuously improve this vital relationship", the website says.

The massive explosion shook the city of Saint John.

Compounding the issue is aging infrastructure, which Tucker said has led to a major fire or explosion occurring in Canada "every two years or so". "We are actively assessing the situation at this time and will share more information when available".

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"From where I was, you could see flames - I would expect they were about a hundred feet in the air - and you've got a huge plume of black smoke", Steeves said about an hour and a half later.

Nearby resident Bob McVicar posted on Facebook saying that it felt like a "bed-shaking explosion".

Irving Oil, a privately-owned energy company supplying Eastern Canada, New England and Ireland, took to its Twitter page to confirm a "major incident".

An Irving oil tanker sails through Portland Harbor on Monday. "Very fortunate they had only minor injuries".

He said there had been a problem with the refinery's diesel treating unit, which removes sulphur from diesel fuel, but it wasn't yet clear exactly what caused the malfunction.

Nick Hynes says he was not long off of the night shift when the blast occurred.

She told the AP that her whole house shook, and she thought her furnace exploded.

Daeres said she opened her curtains and saw flames and thick, black smoke.

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