Residents breathe sigh of relief after fumes from refinery explosion subside

Posted at 10:32 PM, May 16, 2014

WOODS CROSS, Utah -- Woods Cross residents are relieved that an obnoxious odor has subsided after a lid blew on a tank at the Silver Eagle refinery Thursday.

Residents snapped photos and tweeted about a thick cloud of fumes billowing Thursday and into Friday.

In the neighborhood just east of the refinery, pieces of insulation rained down on homeowners' yards.

It took 24 hours to cool the tank and shut it down. The refinery's general manager said it's still unclear what caused a safety lid to blow around 3 p.m. Thursday. The tank stores a waxy product, and some residents said it smelled like burnt candles or crayons.

The burst in pressure prompted county health workers and state environmental officials to respond, monitoring air quality. Health officials determined that there weren't any toxic chemicals released but there were elevated levels of particulate matter which made some neighbors who live near 900 West and 2300 South in Woods Cross feel sick

"To me, it's made my throat dry," said a resident who only wanted to be identified as Brittany.  "I can't let my kids go outside and play on such a nice day because it smells horrible."

"For Silver Eagle, it's very significant, we've spent the last two years making major investments in the refinery to improve the reliability, to improve the environmental performance, so we're not happy this has occurred and we take this very seriously," said Jerry Lockie, who is the general manager at the refinery

Lockie said, in terms of impact to the community, it's the most significant problem at the refinery since a massive explosion back in 2009 due to a corroded pipe that hadn't been inspected for years.

The refinery is now considering permanently shutting the tank down and not storing the waxy substance for extended periods of time. Health and environmental officials and fire fighters plan to meet with refinery managers early next week to brainstorm on a plan so this never happens again.