REGINA — Ten workers were injured Thursday at a crude oil refinery when a pipe leaking diesel fuel and hydrogen gas caught fire and sent an explosion tearing through part of the plant.
The fire at the Consumers’ Co-operative Refineries facility on Regina’s outskirts began shortly after 2 p.m. and was brought under control within an hour, said safety manager Gilbert Ledressay.
The Co-op is a wholly owned subsidiary of Federated Co-operatives Ltd.
“The situation is under control and there’s no immediate danger to the people on site and the community right now,” Ledressay said.
Eight of the injured were taken to hospital with burns. Ledressay said there was no immediate word on their condition. The remaining injured were treated on the site.
There was a large workforce at the plant at the time. Ledressay said there were up to 450 permanent staff and about 1,000 contract employees in the affected area of the plant and another 1,000 elsewhere on the site. All have been accounted for, Ledressay said.
The blast and fire produced large plumes of thick, black smoke for a while before it was brought under control by the plant’s 20 firefighters. Crews at the plant deliberately let the blaze burn, Ledressay said.
“Why you saw it burning for so long is because on a gas release, you don’t want to put it out. You don’t want it to reignite and explode again,so you isolate the source and you cool areas around it and let it burn itself out.”
Company vice-president Vic Huard said the fire didn’t release any harmful chemicals into the environment.
Ledressay said that affected part of the plant is about 40 years old, but was refurbished with new pipes about five years ago. The fire will cut the plant’s production of diesel fuel by about 25 per cent, Huard said.