Hunting Down Clues in Refinery Fires

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 @ 06:02 PM gHale

Refinery fires are taking center stage as a leaky flange connection may be the cause of one blaze at BP’s Cherry Point, WA, refinery, while another explosion that killed four workers in Egypt is still under investigation.

In the Cherry Point fire, information filed with the Coast Guard’s National Response Center is very preliminary and the cause remains under investigation, said BP spokesman Scott Dean.

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It remains unclear how long the refinery would be out of service as a result of the Friday fire. The company is trying to supply customers from existing stocks or other sources.

The refinery can process 230,000 barrels of crude oil a day. It produces 20 percent of Washington’s gasoline and the majority of aviation fuel for the Vancouver, British Columbia, Sea-Tac and Portland airports.

Meanwhile, the director of an oil refinery says four of his Egyptian workers died as they tried to put out a huge fire that erupted at the plant’s complex in the port city of Suez.

Reda Abdel-Samad said the floor on which the men were standing collapsed as the fire raged in the lubricating oil section at the refinery.

Five other workers suffered serious burns, he said. Abdel-Samad says the fire raged for at least two hours before firefighters managed to put it out.

Investigators are looking to determine the cause of the blast.