Woods Cross refinery cleans up after oil sprays neighborhood

Sep 1 2012 - 7:35am

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WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at Holly Frontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery's East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in a canal that runs east of HollyFrontier Oil Refinery on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in a canal that runs east of HollyFrontier Oil Refinery on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. Vehicles that needed to be washed were placed under plastic wraps. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at Holly Frontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery's East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in a canal that runs east of HollyFrontier Oil Refinery on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in a canal that runs east of HollyFrontier Oil Refinery on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. Vehicles that needed to be washed were placed under plastic wraps. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.
WOODS CROSS --- Crews continued cleanup efforts in an industrial park area on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, after more than 8,500 gallon of oil that sprayed from an oil tank at HollyFrontier Oil Refinery. The oil sprayed buildings, parking lots, vehicles, streets, houses and roofs southeast of the refinery’s East Tanks Farm, north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Photo by LORETTA PARK/Standard-Examiner.

WOODS CROSS -- HollyFrontier Oil Corporation officials said the cleanup of an oil spill could take awhile.

The incident happened Thursday evening when a fuel oil tanker overpressured, causing a break in the top cover of the tank and releasing fuel oil east of the refinery.

Mike Astin, environmental manager with the refinery, said oil officials believe water got into the tank, which holds 29,000 barrels of oil, and potentially caused the overpressuring.

Officials believe between 200 and 300 barrels of the fuel oil sprayed over an area about 40 yards wide and a half mile to one mile southeast of the refinery's East Tank farm. The East Tank farm is north of 500 South and west of Interstate 15. Some of the fuel oil coated the southbound off-ramp at I-15 at 500 South.

The fuel oil, which also coated the railroad tracks, roads, vehicles, buildings, roofs, parking lots and patio furniture, is not hazardous, said Mike Astin, environmental manager with the refinery.

Astin said officials will investigate how water got into the tank and either repair the tank or replace it.

Astin said the oil is kept hot, "between 200 and 300 degrees, and water vaporizes at 212 degrees, creating steam." That steam caused the oil tank to act like a pressure canner and when it got hot enough it caused a break in the top cover, releasing the fuel.

No one was hurt or injured from the incident.

"This is just a huge mess to clean up," Astin said.

The oil company has hired several companies to help with the clean up efforts.

The refinery immediately contacted local authorities, as well as the Utah Department of Transportation and the railroad companies. Refinery officials also visited neighborhoods, leaving fliers with information on who to contact for clean up.

A dog kennel near the refinery also got splashed with the oil, Astin said.

"We told them to keep the dogs off the grass and we'll replace the grass," he said.

Booms were put into a nearby canal to soak up any oil that was in the water. Oil refinery officials were notified that a retention pond near I-15 also had a sheen of oil on it.

Astin said a woman called the refinery Friday morning saying her car was coated with the oil and she needed to leave.

"We told her to take it to a car wash and we'll pay for cleaning it and detailing it, as well as for a rental," Astin said.

A man called the refinery help line and said he lives in the area of 200 South and 300 East, Astin said. The man's patio furniture had oil debris on it and he tried to clean it himself.

"You can't just take a household de-greaser and clean it," Astin said. "The oil is really thick."

Astin admitted that because it is Labor Day weekend, some residents may not know about the oil spray until they come home next week.

Mark Clifford, who owns a business in the industrial park next to the refinery, said he was unaware of the incident until he pulled into the parking lot Friday morning and saw all the trucks.

"The parking lot looks like it got scrubbed," Clifford said.

Arden Godwin, a co-owner of Timberline Construction, which has a shop in the industrial park, said the oil coated one of the company's trucks. The truck was in the process of getting cleaned Friday morning.

He said he is not worried about having a business close to the refinery.

"This is the first time anything like this happened," Godwin said.

Astin said in the 12 years he has been with the refinery this is the first time anything like this has happened.

West Bountiful Mayor Ken Romney said he was alerted of the spill shortly after it happened Thursday evening. Romney said no city employees were involved directly in the cleanup because the work is too specialized.

"About the only thing we've done is help out with some of the traffic control," he said.

Woods Cross Mayor Kent Parry said information on the spill was still hard to come by early Friday morning as he and his staff were waiting for updates from the refinery about the cleanup.

Anyone in the area who needs help to clean up oil on their property should call the refinery's care line at 801-560-5511.

-- Standard-Examiner staff reporter Mitch Shaw contributed to this story.

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