This morning at 10 AM, there was an explosion at a Wisconsin refinery.
Five people were hospitalized and taken to Duluth, Minnesota, according
to a statement from Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger. He did not know
the extent of their injuries at the time, but there were no known fatalities.
The refinery caught fire, but Panger said the fire was quickly put out
a little over an hour later.
The Fire Chief also mentioned that the cause of the explosion was a small
tank that was filled with either crude oil or asphalt—the investigation
has not concluded on that front. There are no damage estimates yet either.
Crews were in the middle of shutting down the plant for repairs when it
occurred. One witness, a contractor, reported that the explosion sounded
like "a sonic boom."
The Superior Fire Department sent all available engine companies to the
site, while Duluth sent over a command vehicle. The roads around the refinery
are closed, and police are advising people to stay away. However, there
haven't yet been evacuation orders for neighborhoods in Superior,
a city of 27,000 on the tip of Lake Superior near the border of Minnesota.
History of the Refinery
Husky Energy owns the refinery and is based in Calgary, Alberta. The company
bought the refinery last year for $490 million. It's the sole refinery
in all of Wisconsin, producing gasoline, asphalt, and other products.
The refinery itself was built in the early 1950s and has a capacity of
50,000 barrels per day. It processes crude from Alberta and the Bakken
Shale in North Dakota.
Our hearts go out to the people who were injured or traumatized by the
explosion. We hope the community of Superior remains safe from the smoke
and that investigators get answers soon.