WHITING, Ind. (AP)
- An explosion at BP oil refinery in northwestern Indiana along Lake
Michigan rattled nearby homes and sparked a fire that was later
extinguished, but it didn’t cause any major injuries or halt production at
the facility, a company official said Thursday.
Wednesday night at the Whiting refinery, which is just east of Chicago, was
caused by “an operational incident” on a processing unit, BP America
spokesman Scott Dean said. It happened about 9 p.m. and was extinguished by
the plant’s fire department within a couple of hours.
One employee was
taken to a hospital as a precaution, but was later released, Dean said.
Refinery operations were “minimally” affected by the fire, he said.
Dean said the cause
of the explosion was under investigation and that he didn’t immediately know
whether it caused any chemical releases from the refinery that has a
residential neighborhood running along its western border.
Dan Goldblatt, a
spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said
Thursday that he didn’t know if any air quality problems had been reported
because of the explosion.
A Whiting Fire
Department spokesman said the blast could be heard clearly several blocks
from the plant. However, when fire commanders called plant officials to see
whether assistance was needed, they were told only to stand by.
follows a malfunction at the refinery in March that the company said spilled
up to 1,600 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan. Crews spent several days
cleaning up oil along the shoreline.
The refinery covers
about 1,400 acres along the lake’s shoreline.
BP completed work
in late 2013 on a $4.2 billion expansion and upgrade of the refinery that
will make it a top processor of heavy crude oil extracted from Canada’s tar
explosion came on the anniversary of a 1955 blast at the refinery that threw
debris onto nearby neighborhoods, killing a 3-year-old boy as he slept and
causing fires that burned for eight days, according to the Whiting Public