Federal Agency Calling on EPA to Update Hydrofluoric Study

Taylor Holt
Updated: April 25, 2019 06:11 PM

Thursday, investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said they are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its hydrofluoric study in the wake of the Husky Refinery incident, that rocked the Twin Ports nearly a year ago.

Immediately following the April 26th explosion and fires, a federal investigation and Husky's own internal investigation took off. 

On August 2nd 2018, a significant update was released when investigators presented their factual update, confirming the explosion happened in the refinery's Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCC).

Investigators said conditions existed for the mix of air and hydro-carbons causing the explosion. That then led to a piece of debris striking an Asphalt tank, resulting in the fire.

The cause was a worn slide valve. Husky officials briefly spoke about the investigation on several visits to Superior within the past couple months.

"Both investigations have largely concluded similar issues and that was the slide valve that failed," said Husky's Manager Kollin Schade, at an open house last week.

"We have incorporated those learnings into the rebuild engineering," said Husky's Chief Operating Officer Rob Symonds, earlier this month.

Although, hydrogen fluoride was not released. Thursday, the Board's Interim Executive said it's a concern resulting from their investigation.

"The CSB has been concerned that the next time there is an explosion in one of these  that has HF, there is the potential for that HF to be released, and that is the most dangerous substance that we can think of that are present in these sites," said Kristen Kulinowski.

Wednesday, they sent a letter to the EPA requesting them to review and update to their 1993 hydrofluoric study.

"Specifically, we are calling on them to look at the risk management plans to control and manage the hazards of this substance. We also noted that there are in development new potential alternatives to the use of HF for alkylation, that we think the EPA should look at," said Kulinowski.

No decision has been made yet, but Kulinowski says highlighting this issue was the most effective way to go as they work on a final report.

"The community has grave concerns about the presence of HF in its community and so we recognize that," she said. 

A final report has been delayed but is expected by the end of the calendar year. 


Taylor Holt

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