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Officials say refinery emissions are smelly but not dangerous


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WOODS CROSS — Davis County health officials say residents near the Silver Eagle Refinery have no reason to worry, even though their noses might sense otherwise.

Around 2:45 p.m. Thursday afternoon, one of the refinery tanks had an “overpressure”— popping open a five-foot-long crack in the tank.

A wax-like substance inside a 300-degree tank melted and sent a plume of vapor out of the refinery and into the air. This also produced a strong odor affecting nearby residents.

“The vapor that’s coming off of it now would be no different than if you put a vapor on a hot plate and it melted and then it began to smoke a little bit,” Jerry Lockie, Silver Eagle Refinery’s general manager of refining, said.

Parents and students of nearby Legacy Preparatory Academy still were bothered by the offending smell.

“I remember walking into the school and I was like, ‘It smells like burning rubber, burnt hair.’ It was a weird smell,” Legacy Preparatory Academy student Sam McKee said. “It kind of did bother me, and in third period, people were getting checked out.”

Dennis Keith, deputy director of environmental health for the Davis County Health Department, said the air was not dangerous.

“We didn’t find any toxins in the air, but we did find medium levels of PM-10,” Keith said. PM-10 particulates can cause problems for people with respiratory illnesses.

School administrators decided to release students early just in case.

“Once we made the announcement of early dismissal on a Friday, there was a little bit of momentum but we kept teaching right up til the end,” Erin Taylor, a junior high school instructor at Legacy Preparatory Academy, said.

Parents were grateful for the school’s decision.

“You definitely don’t want your kids breathing this all day, so I think it was smart that they let the kids out early,” Mike McKee, Sam McKee’s father, said.

If residents still smell the strong odor, Davis County health officials say the air is OK now, and residents should open doors and windows to ventilate.


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