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CSB issues update on Husky Energy refinery fire in Superior

<p></p><p>The U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation team issued an update Friday concerning its efforts to determine the cause of an April 26 explosion at Husky Energy oil refinery.</p><p>Since arriving in Superior, the CSB team has photo-documented a large percentage of the refinery and conducted interviews with about 50 Husky Energy employees and contractors who were working at the facility that day, the federal agency stated.</p><p>Husky Energy has worked cooperatively with the CSB to provide access to the site and relevant information, according to the update. Facility employees, represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers, and contract employees represented by various building trade unions are also cooperating with the investigation.</p><p>The refinery was preparing to enter a five-week maintenance turnaround, during which time equipment is shut down so that it can be opened, inspected, and repaired as needed. The explosion occurred at about 10 a.m. April 26. The initial explosion caused property damage and loss of containment of an asphalt tank. The contents of the tank spilled out and the material combusted.</p><p>The initial explosion took place within the refinery's fluid catalytic cracking unit, which "cracks" heavy, high boiling-point hydrocarbon molecules into smaller molecules with lower boiling points. The main product produced by the unit is gasoline. The CSB investigation team is currently narrowing its focus to equipment within unit to determine the cause of the initial explosion. The investigation team is requesting and reviewing documentation pertaining to the fluid catalytic cracking unit.</p><p>Metallurgical testing will be conducted in order to determine the cause of the initial explosion. The CSB has retained a metallurgical expert to help identify the testing necessary and will work with Husky and other agencies to determine the protocols for testing.</p><p>The explosion created a large amount of debris was scattered in and around the refinery complex. This debris is being collected and stored for future analysis as needed.</p><p>The CSB, an independent, non-regulatory federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical incidents, will continue to provide updates to the public as the investigation unfolds.</p><p>The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to facility management, industry organizations, labor groups and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. A full report on the Husky Energy fire could take a year to complete. Visit</p>