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Duluth Mayor Wants Husky to Prove HF is Safest Choice

Baihly Warfield
Updated: July 11, 2019 10:50 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - Mayor Emily Larson wants Husky to prove that HF is the safest choice for use at its Superior refinery. 

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"I believe our communities have not been made aware of the extent to which HF is dangerous, nor have we been given proof that safer alternatives are not viable," Larson wrote in a Facebook post. 

Monday night, she will ask the Duluth City Council to approve a resolution asking the EPA to review refineries' use of hydrogen fluoride. If released, hydrogen fluoride can pose health hazards, including lung damage and severe burns.

Although the refinery is located in Superior, Larson said the explosion's impact was not limited to Wisconsin.

"When I am in the incident command center with our emergency response team and we are weighing the factors that we know, and it is a lot of information coming at us, and I am seeing inadequate response on the part of Husky and I am seeing the elevated risk of members of this community, my community, and this region, it is an issue that impacts Duluth," she said in an interview Thursday. 

She also sent a letter to Kollin Schade, general manager of the Superior refinery.

"I am disappointed, frustrated, and angry about your choice to continue with HF and question the depth with which Husky considered public safety and regional health," she wrote. 

She is asking Schade and the company to reconsider its use of HF and choose a different method. 

She also cites the Chemical Safety Board's request to have the EPA update its hydrofluoric study, which was last done in 1993. 

"The Chemical Safety Board needs our support and action. It needs this community to stand with it and the other communities across the country that have experienced an explosion involving HF," Larson said. "And Husky and other refineries need to know that municipalities are stepping up."

A Husky spokesperson said they understand there continue to be concerns. 

"Before coming to our decision in April, we undertook a rigorous evaluation of hydrogen fluoride options and alternatives and that analysis concluded the alternatives were not commercially viable or introduced significant risks for the Superior Refinery," Mel Duvall wrote in an email. "There was no release of HF during last year's fire and all safeguards worked as designed. As part of our rebuild plans, we are incorporating additional safety enhancements." 

Husky says it is committed to the refinery, its employees and the community. 

Credits

Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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