Signs of structural instability in a process tower at a Wisconsin refinery closed since an explosion and fire in April 2018 prompted authorities to order an evacuation of the site Thursday.
Crews working on the tower at the Husky Energy refinery in Superior reported hearing a sudden “pop,” then noticed a significant defect in the structure, the Superior Police Facebook site states.
Reconstruction of the heavily damaged refinery began in September, more than 17 months after an explosion in a fluid catalytic cracking unit triggered an eight-hour fire. The emergency left 36 people injured and forced an evacuation of the surrounding community.
The latest situation involved no risk of fire, explosion, release of chemicals or other threats to the public, police said. Assessment of the situation is ongoing.
“Refinery personnel were evacuated as a precautionary measure and the gas and electric power to the refinery were turned off,” the post states.
The tower lies within a “fall zone” inside the refinery previously blocked off as a precaution in case of collapse.
“To be clear, even in a scenario where the tower collapses there is nothing around the tower which could be struck which would cause a danger to the community,” the police statement reads.
Stinson Avenue, a public roadway within the fall zone, will remain closed until the safety of the situation has been determined.
Steve Panger, then chief of the Superior Fire Department, received Industrial Fire World’s 2018 Red Adair Award for his department’s response to the emergency at Husky.