(EnviroNews Utah) — Woods Cross — Well, it’s happened again — meaning, the old Wood Cross’s Silver Eagle oil refinery has had yet another explosive episode in what has now caused the evacuation of a local elementary school while leaving nearby residents complaining of headaches and health problems.
According to reports, the incident went down at 3:30 PM Thursday afternoon, when there was a tank rupture at the old Uintah Basin-wax refining facility. The company reports that the disaster is being managed by crews who are pumping nitrogen and steam into the compromised tank while it is moved to another holding vessel.
The process has led to the ongoing release of airborne particulate from the facility, and area residents have complained of headaches, nausea, and other health problems.
Meanwhile, Legacy Preparatory Academy, the nearest elementary school was evacuated by administrator Elizabeth Hatch when according to sources, elevated levels of PM 10 were observed on the upper level of the school.
It is not yet clear what was in the PM 10 particulate matter, and residents complained that it took the Utah Health Department all the way until the next morning to obtain and install air monitoring equipment on-scene from the Utah Department of Air Quality. These same residents also accused the agencies of sending out monitoring gear was not even equipped to detect far more dangerous and smaller PM 2.5 particles as well as other ultra-fine airborne contaminants.
The Wood Cross wax refining operation is one of the oldest oil refineries in the West, and gained unwanted notoriety in 2009 with a powerful explosion that knocked houses off their foundation and left the local community reeling.
While rushing to cover the 2009 event, local EnviroNews Utah noticed that the sheer magnitude of the explosion had also put Holly Refinery and others into emergency bypass mode. While all of Utah’s major news outlets flocked to the feeding frenzy at the Silver Eagle, our camera crew jettisoned the bustling scene to tape a bypass episode for the record books at Holly Oil Refinery, in what is still the most unbelievable refinery releases we have witnessed to date.
This ’09 multi-bypass extravaganza demonstrated the level of vulnerability, interconnectedness and unpreparedness of Salt Lake’s refineries, and leaves us to wonder if Silver Eagle is even fit for operation at all with all of their century old technology, rusting and rotting with every passing decade.