The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has had a trickledown effect in Utah.
A federal agency that has been asked to look into the April 20 spill from the BP oil rig has temporarily halted some of its smaller investigations, including one in the Top of Utah at the Silver Eagle Refinery.
Earlier this summer, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to examine the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.
The board, which investigates chemical accidents, had probed another accident at a BP plant in Texas.
But in taking on the Gulf spill investigation, the agency said it had to suspend and perhaps terminate other investigations because it was overburdened with cases.
"We already have a higher number of open investigations than we have actual investigators on staff," wrote CSB Chairman John Bresland in a letter this summer to the congressional committee. "Accordingly, to investigate the rig disaster, we anticipate that certain extraordinary measures will be required."
The Silver Eagle refinery explosion, on Nov. 4, 2009, shook a Woods Cross neighborhood and eventually shut down the plant.
No injuries were reported, but the fireball and resulting explosion damaged more than 100 homes surrounding the plant.
Hillary Cohen, a CSB public affairs specialist, confirmed Thursday that the Silver Eagle investigation had been suspended, but when and if that investigation would continue wasn't clear.
"It's frustrating," said Anneke Lindhardt, whose home was damaged by the Woods Cross explosion.
"We have confidence in their ability to do the investigation, once they are able to," she added.
Last fall, the CSB asked Silver Eagle to temporarily stand down operations after concerns arose about the "integrity and fitness" of the company equipment.
It was the first time in the agency's history that such a request was made of any refinery.
The CSB also said it was looking at the proximity of homes to the refinery, an issue that has resurfaced at public meetings since the explosion.
Cohen did not know the status of two other open CSB investigations in Utah, one at the Tesoro Refinery in Salt Lake City and an earlier accident at Silver Eagle in January 2009 that injured four workers.
The Oct. 21, 2009, accident at the Tesoro refinery included a pool fire that extended from the base of a stack, damaging a trailer and other equipment that was positioned nearby.
CSB has 40 employees and more than a dozen open investigations. The agency was formed in 1998.
But Bresland said he would tap into a nearly $1 million emergency investigatory fund to see what happened at the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf.
"We recognize that this human and ecological disaster is one of the most significant chemical accidents of the current era," Bresland also wrote.
A state agency also had a corresponding investigation into the November Silver Eagle explosion.
Officials at the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division said they had completed their investigation and previously announced a $1 million fine on the company for the incident.
"Our activity at Silver Eagle is completed," said Bill Adams, UOSHA operations manager.
But Adams noted the case had not fully closed because Silver Eagle has contested the fine.
Silver Eagle officials were not available for comment.