Large Explosion At Hub Oil Plant In Calgary : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

posted on csy2k Subject: (OT) Large Explosion At Hub Oil Plant In Calgary Date: Mon, 09 Aug 1999 17:51:42 GMT

The story is just breaking on local news channels. If there is anything interesting in upcoming reports, I'll post it.

More details:

Oil recycling plant. "Series" of explosions. Five injured, 2 missing so far.

-- Mitchell Barnes (, August 09, 1999


Yoiu mean there's another explosion in Calgary, in addition to this one on July 27th??

Energy North Inc. Reports Explosion and Fire at Sibbald Production Facility CALGARY, ALBERTA--Energy North Inc. regrets to report on July 26, 1999 an explosion and fire destroyed a portion of its ``Sibbald'' crude oil production facility near the town of Acadia Valley, in Eastern Alberta, fatally injuring one worker. It is unknown at this time what caused the incident ...

-- Cheryl (, August 09, 1999.

Embedded in another of today's explosion threads:

Refinery Explosion

For the record, here's another explosion, this time of an oil recycling plant, that happened at noon today: oil plant explosion in Calgary.

(for educational purposes only)

"Updated: August 09, 1:00 pm Oil Plant/Explosion An oil recycling facility in Calgary is engulfed in flames after an explosion. A thick black smoke cloud can be seen straight across the city blowing up from the Hub Oil plant. Debris from the explosion has sent three people to hospital but there's no word on their conditions. An evacuation is going on around the plant for fear of secondary explosions. Thus far, most of the workers have been accounted for."

oil plant evacuation

"Updated: August 09, 2:50 pm Oil Plant/Evacuation

An explosion at an oil recycling facility has forced the evacuation of a commercial section of Calgary in the eastern end of the city. Five men have been hurt and three employees of Hub Oil are being treated for burns. Two workers are still missing. Eye witness Bob Poole was driving when he saw the explosion. He says he saw a massive red ball etched in black. The sky over the plant is filled with black smoke.

Hub Oil has been at the centre of controversy in Calgary because it is located within city limits in the middle of a commercial area.

Residential neighbourhoods are located a few blocks away and a 15-block area north of plant has been evacuated."

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 09, 1999.


This fire is huge! Five hours later, it is still burning fiercely. Electricity out, toxic fumes, large chunks of metal being thrown for blocks. Multiple explosions of propane and of other materials. Large residential neighbourhood surrounding it is being evacuated.

Helicopters flying over it, but the fire seems impossible to fight.

Firefighters want it to continue burning hotly to hopefully eliminate some of the toxic effects.

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 09, 1999.

xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, August 09, 1999.

Thanks, Mitchell and Ashton & Leska,

I didn't want to start a new thread with this one because at this point in time there is no way of saying whether or not the initial explosion was in any way y2k-related. The plant was originally built back in the '50s, although it has most likely been upgraded and therefore automated since then.

It is now over seven hours since the fire began, and the firefighters still are not going anywhere near it. I've just finished watching an hour's news about it (yep, that's all we get; wouldn't want overkill) and have picked-up a few more details. The site contains about 100 large tanks filled with oil, diesel fuel, aviation fuel, anti-freeze, and sulphuric acid. The fire apparently began with the explosion of one tank (not verified) and the remainder of the tanks have been exploding throughout the afternoon. Some of their fireballs have been over 250 meters high--rising in height above the downtown office towers. The firefighters will not go in to take down the fire until all of the tanks have exploded. Shrapnel from the fire has apparently moved as fast as 29,000 ft/sec (don't know how nor by whom the measurements were being done.)

A ten sq. km. area has been evacuated (voluntary), but anyone who leaves is not being allowed to return. Some folks who were at work during the day are worried about their animals left behind in their homes. The toxic fume warning covers a 100 sq. km. area.

The smoke plume is large and very black. It seems to be quite low- lying, and the city is at the mercy of the vagaries of the wind. The plume appears to be heading-off in a north-easterly direction (sorry, Saskatchewan, it's coming your way.) :(

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 09, 1999.

Rachel, thank you very much for your reporting. Eyewitness and live TV News accounts often contain clues that don't make it past the newspaper filters. Hope you are breathing OK and the air doesn't get a lot worse.

Shelter In Place: Make Your Kits

We started the above thread in the hopes that many readers would take the 1/2 hour to make this very important kit, which enables a person to survive such an explosion and toxic chemical release. Y2K failures may bring this noxious fright to a block near you!

@}->-- 3~0 3~0 3~0 3~0 3~0 3~0 3~0 @}->-- 3~0 3~0 3~0

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, August 09, 1999.

Tuesday, 10 August 1999 1:24 (GMT), (UPI Spotlight)


CALGARY, Alberta, Aug. 9 (UPI) - A tank containing sulfuric acid has exploded at an oil recycling plant in Calgary, Alberta (Monday), hours after a huge initial blast started a fire that has raged for several hours.

The latest explosion, one in a series of more than 20, has sent toxic fumes into the atmosphere, but officials are playing down the environmental damage.

Officials always "play down" bad news and factual disasters. Even while it is happening right under their noses and gas masks. Idiots. Even during actual fire and brimstone.

xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, August 09, 1999.

Ashton & Leska,

Thank you for your consideration and concern. I'm on the edge of the warning area; humans are breathing okay, although eyes are stinging, but head cat is wheezing and sputtering more than usual. Doors and windows are all closed.

Thanks also for providing the link to the kit. I hope many follow it.

At 7 p.m. our time reporters were giving mixed stories about the sulphuric acid tank (these tanks are huge, by the way), so I chose to omit its possible explosion. Regardless of when it happens, inevitable that it will. Truth is, reporters standing several kms from the fire probably know very little about precisely what is exploding, and when.

Your point about official downplaying of seriousness and severity is well-taken. Watching the EPA rep standing in front of the billowing black plume saying repeatedly that its content presented no danger was one serious disconnect...would have been laughable if the situation weren't so serious.

Skies above are blue right now, but rain is in the forecast.

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 09, 1999.


Wow! While reading the piece I "commented" on this

"but officials are playing down the environmental damage."

What is with calling it as you see it, a disaster in the making. What ever mess that is left will smolder for awhile, runoff, what a bloody mess. The smoke looked like a volcano.

Oh and we have Y2K comming.

My sister and family lives in Sherwood Park by Edmonchuck, I have a large interest in the status of the chemical and refining industry in Canada, there is nothing about the risk yet in the US it is pretty much a industry wide red alert. While the Canadian plants will be aware of it the public, press has been silent. Do you hear anything in Calgary?

So it would seem that there is little indication that this is Y2K related but an excelant example of something gone really bad eh?

-- Brian (, August 10, 1999.

On the 11 pm news, they're saying that the fire is now out (not under control, although they admit that they're concerned about it restarting), and that the worst thing in the air there now is mosquitos.

Re : oil and gas remediation - Craig works in that area and is clearly less concerned now than he was last fall (check the archives). Hopefully because he's seen first hand that they're doing well. (Still won't catch me in East Edmonchuk or Fort Sask or Sher Park at roll over!)

-- Tricia the Canuck (, August 10, 1999.


It has me pretty worried, at least my sister has a open invitation to her best friends parents. I doubt her husband would leave, he is in the industry. Having shit happen in the winter up there would just be bit hard on her small daughters. My impression of Sherwood park is an "industry town" lots of refineries and chemical plants near by. (Never been there).

I believe that Craig is in Fort McMurray, should ask him about what he knows though.

-- Brian (, August 10, 1999.

Yes, Brian, the smoke looked awful. It turned white as they were killing the fire, and at least the firefighters admitted there could be quite a mess left on the ground. It is worth noting that not one reporter I saw went after a company spokesperson for a statement.

And, no, the mainstream media in this province appears to have avoided the possibilites inherent in incomplete remediation of the chemical/refining industry. It is unlikely that questions about y2k remediation and/or testing will even be asked. A pattern in these explosions already appears to have developed "careless workman, no long-lasting effects, temporary inconvenience."

Tricia, a couple of things struck me as I watched that black cloud travel. One is that we may not realize just how far and wide the possible effects of one explosion/fire may be felt. I wondered how the people directly to the north of the fire, watching the black cloud heading their way, must have been feeling.

The other is a strong sense of anger and frustration with the media. Although many people were displaced throughout the evening while the fire continued to burn and even though most of us wanted to know how/when it would be put out, none of the five local channels thought it was worth their while to continue their coverage so that we could continue to monitor locally what was happening to our own community (I say this keeping in mind the interruption of regular programming a few years back to force a Bronco chase in another country upon us.) If this is a taste of what is to come in the future, shortage of public information in times of disaster/crisis could certainly contribute to public panic and/or anger!

I saw and was almost dismayed with that 11 p.m. report you caught. While the local affiliate of that channel had done a fairly good job in its reporting up until 7 p.m., the reporter who did the national clip appeared to have come in from elsewhere and he totally downplayed the situation; mention of the mosquitoes was just the crowning touch on a seemingly flippant negation of what had occurred. He never even mentioned the five injured and the two people still missing after 12 hours!

The only good news I can contribute is that it didn't rain last night. The skies are grey (yellowish?) today, though.

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 10, 1999.

Rachel, the media won't dig around a disaster and show the truth unless it has a Celebrity Titillation factor. Otherwise, reality is considered instrusive. Be sure to Have A Good Day. If not, up the prozac. See? Everything's Better (dopey face smile).

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, August 10, 1999.

29,000 feet per second is about 19,000 miles per hour. That's orbital velocity, last I recall. S'pose this fire put pieces in orbit? That would be a heckuva bang.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), August 10, 1999.

bw, Yeah, I questioned that velocity too! To show by example, though, one piece of pipe removed the rack from an SUV, continued on through a fence, then embedded itself in the outer wall of a house. With some of the explosions it was possible to see pieces of metal spinning outward from high above the fireball.

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 10, 1999.

It's too early - too quick to bother with any single comment like that "29,000 feet" part - please don't get distracted from the real lesson you're seeing being played out: the media's coverage, your frustrations, the incident itself, the potential "lessons predicted" for next year if any control system fails, and the impact on the environment, the impact of control failure on economic/infrastructure/subordinate systems are the key.


29,000? Probably mixing height of smoke and distance flames are visible with spread of fumes with "keep away" distance with velocity of object(s) and distance of "some" things being thrown - add a little excitement and you're going to get bad reports. Don't worry about it.

These guys aren't rocket scientists - they wouldn't be able to stop and relate their figure to the initial escape velocities of oil refineries ...... like you just did.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, August 10, 1999.

I was in Canada all of last week. It was very interesting. I met some people from Alberta and many other places. It was really interesting watching the news from outside the us. They did alot on Bin Laden and another gas explosion at a hotel. The super store I went to seemed very stocked up. Don't know if it was y2k or just the bad winter weather people were stocking up for. The people were very friendly and I was greatly impressed. I hope things with the explosion are under control now. It brings things a little closer to home when you see places you have only heard of before. Keep the info coming from Canada.

-- Moore Dinty moore (, August 11, 1999.

Robert, you're right. I apologize for the 29,000 remark. Gratuitous pedantry always gets me in trouble.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), August 11, 1999.

bw, I didn't take offense at your interstellar comment; thought it was humourous. Robert, who are you calling a rocket scientist: bw, me, or both? I'll thank you for the honour.

Now that people have returned to their homes they have found an incredible mess: "oil" splattered over everything. Firefighters are testing various cleaning agents on an affected school; normally a compound called DW500 is used to clean-up oil spills on roads, but it is not available to the public.

A government agency is testing for air, water, and soil contamination. Air tests done throughout the burning time yielded no toxic results, they continue to say. They're not saying which air they tested. People in the immediate area are being advised to wash their garden produce thoroughly; some are choosing not to eat the stuff at all.

And, finally, two bodies have been found in the burned building, one in the boiler room. My heartfelt condolences to their families.

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 11, 1999.

Update. The Hub Oil refinery had been down for maintenance for two weeks prior to the fire and had just come back online. Investigators appear to be focussing on the first tank that exploded.

Residents near the area destroyed by the fire are "concerned about how oil fallout and debris from it are going to affect their health....Some people were forced to stay in hotels overnight, some people lost work, and many residents cannot afford insurance."

They were told tests on the air and soil are not yet complete. Apparently, they've also been told to go to their insurance companies for compensation.

Residents living near the burnt out ruins are angry and they want answers. "They demanded to know whether the thick black smoke that poured from the plant was toxic. The questions covered the gambit from bird populations to back yard gardens."

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 13, 1999.


Thanks for the update. And of course to pop this back up to the top :o)

-- Brian (, August 14, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ