Reported explosion at oil refinery in Saint John, NB

Clay Curtis
October 9, 2018

He said there had been a problem with the refinery's diesel treating unit, which removes sulphur from diesel fuel, but it wasn't yet clear exactly what caused the malfunction. One woman who lives near the refinery describes a massive boom, with the walls shaking.

"There was quite a shockwave when the blast happened", he said as he left with co-workers hours afterward.

The company shut most of the plant for planned maintenance in late September, but the smaller, 25,000 bpd gasoline-making units and the 125,000 bpd crude unit were still running, a source familiar with the plant's operations said.

One worker at the refinery, who didn't want to be identified, said the blast had been enough to knock him down.

Irving Oil says it will update the public via social media as information becomes available.

"There is a steady stream of tankers in the harbor from Irving", said Mark Usinger, owner of the A.L. Griffin Inc., a ship chandler in Portland.

The refinery is near several residential neighbourhoods, and is about five kilometres from the city core, known as Uptown.

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Irving's Saint John refinery is the largest in Canada.

"The following streets are closed: Loch Lomond at Commerce, Grandview at Champlain, Grandview at Bayside, and Loch Lomond at Macdonald".

Fire at Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B.

"If they have these incidents, it can lead to significant loss of production for some time", he said.

Daeres said she opened her curtains and saw flames and thick, black smoke.

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service told CNBC 'We probably import more gasoline from that single refinery than any other single refinery around the world, ' he said.

"Our house actually shook, our windows, we could feel the direct impact of the explosion in our house … it didn't take very long to discover, of course, that a very heavy black plume was coming from the site", he said.

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