Virgin Islands: Explosion at Refinery : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nando Times

Fire at St. Croix refinery injures one

The Associated Press

CHRISTIANSTED, U.S. Virgin Islands (May 15, 2001 9:12 p.m. EDT) - An explosion on Tuesday rocked the hemisphere's largest oil refinery, Hovensa, seriously burning at least one person and forcing a halt in operations.

A fire reportedly started near machinery that is critical to the process of refining crude into gasoline and heating oil.

Islanders heard two explosions at the plant on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix but a company statement said only that there was a fire.

Employees were evacuated and roads were closed until the fire was brought under control. That took about 20 minutes.

Hovensa Vice President Alex Moorehead said processing had stopped because of the fire, but he did not immediately know how that would affect production levels.

When running normally, the Hovensa refinery processes an average of 400,000 barrels a day. Its total refining capacity, however, of 545,000 barrels a day is the hemisphere's largest.

Ann Doute, an administrator at Governor Juan Francisco Louis Hospital, said one man was brought there with serious burns and would likely be taken off the island since there is no burn center here.

Firefighters told The Associated Press there were several people injured at the plant but did not give any other details.

With about 2,000 workers, the refinery is the Virgin Islands' biggest private employer.

-- Rachel Gibson (, May 16, 2001

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