Dark smoke at refineries caused by power outage

Posted at 9:01 PM, Apr 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-27 01:03:53-04

WOODS CROSS, Utah – If you were passing through Davis County Friday night, you may have noticed huge plumes of smoke and flames coming from the area’s oil refineries.

A power outage sent some of the plants into emergency mode around 6 p.m., forcing them to begin burning off product.

“It pulled the plug on the place,” said Michael Astin, spokesman for Holly Frontier Oil Refinery.

An interruption at Rocky Mountain Power’s Woods Cross substation knocked out power to both Holly Refinery and Flying J, according to company spokesman David Eskelsen. Chevron and Silver Eagle may have had only glitches in service, Eskelsen said.

Holly Refinery has a series of safety measures in place in the event they do lose power. Friday, Astin said the refinery immediately began burning off gases that could become potentially dangerous if emitted.

“The vessels and the pipes out there, they have the high-pressure hydrocarbon and the high-temperature hydrocarbon, and the safety features activated release that material to go to where it can be combusted. We don’t want that material being released into the atmosphere where it can then catch fire and explode,” said Astin.

Power was restored to both Holly Refinery and Flying J by 8 p.m. Eskelsen was unsure what caused the interruption, but said the problem was rare.