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Fatal Refinery Fire Kills One, Refinery Still Working

Photo of Benny Agosto

One refinery worker was killed early this morning when an unexplained explosion occurred at Chevron's Pascagoula Refinery in Mississippi. The man had been an employee of the refinery for the past five years and was currently working in the Cracking II Processing Unit when the blast and resulting fire occurred.

Plant operators insist that there is no danger to the public at large and that the small fire was quickly contained by employees. As many as 12 refinery workers were in the Unit when the fire broke out. This is the first fatal refinery accident at the Chevron plant in 10 years. The fire did not shut down the refinery.

As many as 30 local firefighters arrived on-scene to control and put out the refinery fire, but Chevron teams managed to do so with little outside assistance.

The Cracking II Unit is one of five operating areas that comprise the refining process at the Pascagoula plant. Cracking involves the conversion of distillate, gas, oil and residuum into valuable products for commercial and personal consumption. The Chevron plant employs three methods to accomplish this: fluid catalytic cracking (FCC), coking (or thermal-cracking) and hydrocracking (Isomax).

This is the second oil and gas safety issue Chevron has had this week. A natural gas pipeline in Milford recently exploded, forcing evacuations but fortunately injuring no one. Officials allowed the gas to burn off before attempting to fix the pipeline. The entire town of Milford was evacuated as a precautionary measure.

Source: Clarion Ledger, "Chevron refinery explosion kills one on Miss. Gulf Coast," November 15, 2013

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