BP releases preliminary cause of refinery fire

Published on Wed, Feb 29, 2012
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A crude vacuum unit failure at the BP Cherry Point Refinery caused a petroleum byproduct  to catch fire, sending the entire unit up in flames, a spokesman for the refinery has announced.

Although the investigation is in its preliminary stages, BP personnel and investigators from the state department of labor and industries believe there was a failure in the crude vacuum unit. According to BP spokesman Mike Abendhoff, this failure led to the release of resid, a crude product, which ignited when it came into contact with the air. He said the focus was on determining the reason for the failure and making changes to avoid a recurrence.

None of the refinery’s 848 full-time workers or contract employees were seriously injured in the accident, though 100 workers were evacuated the day of the fire. The refinery, which can process 230,000 barrels of crude oil per day, is mostly shut down for the time being.