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Pressure release mistaken for explosion at Silver Eagle refinery

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Oct. 20, 2012 at 6:36 p.m.


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WOODS CROSS — A small release of pressure at the Silver Eagle refinery near Woods Cross caused a stir as well as reports of an explosion Early on Saturday.

We all know oil refining just north of Salt Lake City is a normal part of everyday life. But when something that isn't normal happens at one of these plants, no matter how small it is, it's a reminder of what could happen.

"At about 11:30, a passerby, somebody in the area, called 911 and said he had heard an explosion," said South Davis Metro Fire Chief Jim Rampton

He says whenever they get called about an explosion at one of the refineries they get concerned. However, today's "explosion" at the Silver Eagle Refinery is considered a minor one. In fact, the explosion was actually a release of pressure that was supposed to happen.

"They believe they just over pressurized the tank, and in that situation, that's what the tank is supposed to do — is release," Rampton said

The tank involved was only about 10 percent full and only contained the waxy substances left over from refining.

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But anytime you say "Silver Eagle" and "explosion" in the same sentence, it reminds people of November 2009 when a hydrogen gas leak exploded into a huge fireball. Dozens of nearby homes were damaged.

Silver Eagle shut down for several months after the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigations Board said they had serious concerns about operations at the plant.

Ever since, Silver Eagle has been as safe as possible, even giving quarterly reports to the city to keep them updated on operations.

"We've been invited to their training, work very closely with them in all sorts of meetings, whether it's fire training or just general emergency plans," Rampton said.

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Alex Cabrero

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