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Silver Eagle Refinery to temporarily shut down


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WOODS CROSS -- The Silver Eagle Refinery in Woods Cross is temporarily shutting down because of findings by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) after the Nov. 4 explosion that damaged several nearby homes.

The CSB says investigators found "serious concerns about the integrity of the piping and equipment at various locations in the plant."

According to the CSB investigation supervisor, a pipe failed, causing the explosion. They determined that pipe was too thin -- and they discovered many of the pipes throughout the refinery are too.

Investigators also found there are inaccurate records being kept for the equipment, and they suspect a lot of that equipment is past its expiration date of safely functioning.

"We asked that the plant be ... that they stand down, that they shut down, so they could thoroughly inspect the equipment, establish fitness for service and mechanical integrity," explained investigation supervisor Donald Holmstrom. [CLICK HERE to read the entire statement from the CSB]

The CSB said Silver Eagle's management has cooperated with the agency's investigation, and neighbors still living in the area are pleased with the shutdown.

"I was relieved," Brittany Bennett said. "Part of me was relieved."

Bennett is still trying to put her home back together after the explosion. She was home that day with her daughter when the blast rocked their neighborhood.

"It was so scary," she said. "It thought it was an earthquake, and I thought my house was going to explode."

Now her home is one of the only houses still occupied on the block.

"Right now we're missing six neighbors that have moved into hotels and apartments and houses … they're going to be out of their home for quite a few months, and it's really sad," Bennett said.

Since she moved in four years ago, Bennett said there has been fire after fire at Silver Eagle. She believes the shutdown is a step in the right direction.

"I'm glad to see that OSHA is coming in and saying, ‘Hey, this isn't safe, so this needs to be taken care of,'" Bennett said.

Silver Eagle officials declined a request for an interview but did release a statement saying they are "committed to being a responsible business in the community and being a contributor to an important industry sector." They also said that they take "operating responsibility very seriously." [CLICK HERE to read the entire statement from Silver Eagle]

In all, eight to 10 homes suffered significant damage from the explosion. Three to four dozen other homes had some superficial damage.

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Story compiled with contributions from Jennifer Stagg and Alex Cabrero.

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