Investigators release preliminary findings in refinery blast

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WOODS CROSS -- The U.S. Chemical Safety Board announced its preliminary findings in an investigation into the refinery explosion that rocked a Woods Cross neighborhood.

Investigators describe what happened Wednesday as a catastrophic failure of a 10-inch pipe carrying hydrogen. The pipe was in a part of the Silver Eagle Refinery at 2355 S. 1100 West used to make low-sulfur diesel. When it failed, hydrogen heated to 800 degrees Fahrenheit, leapt out and ignited, sending a fireball rolling through that section of the refinery.

Donald Holmstrom with the safety board said, "The unit was immediately engulfed in flames that went as high as 100 feet in the air. We're extremely fortunate that no one got hurt. Five workers were in this process unit just a few minutes before."

The pipe that failed was pointed east, directly toward a nearby neighborhood. Investigators say several waves of pressure rolled through the neighborhood, damaging dozens of homes. They now are examining the pipe as well as the practices at the refinery.

The board also will look into studies done by the refinery, the city of Woods Cross, and a developer in regards to the safety of building the neighborhood in that location.

The board also is concerned about the number of major accidents at refineries nationwide. It says since 2007, there have been 10 accidents—three of the 10 here in Utah, two at the Silver Eagle Refinery.

Refinery officials told KSL they have not had a chance to look at the board's preliminary findings into the blast, so they currently have no comment.


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Sarah Dallof


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