Marathon refinery in St. Paul Park, Minnesota, is one of only two refineries in the state. - Screencapture from KSTP

Marathon refinery in St. Paul Park, Minnesota, is one of only two refineries in the state.

Screencapture from KSTP

A transition from contractors to refinery employees to provide fire protection at Marathon Petroleum’s St. Paul Park, Minnesota, refinery does not represent a reduction in firefighting capacity and resources, a statement issued by Marathon says.

Released to Industrial Fire World Tuesday morning, the statement said Marathon remains committed to the safety of its employees, contractors and the Twin Cities community.

“To be clear, the change is from a contractor force to trained and qualified refinery employees who will constitute a paid, on-call emergency response team with more specialist responders available within the fenceline than before,” the statement reads.

Both St. Paul Park’s Police Chief Jessica Danberg and city council member Keith Franke told KSTP in Minneapolis about their concerns that the transition will affect the quality of fire protection at the plant.

“If Marathon’s on-call system cannot respond quick enough, it puts our volunteer firefighters in a tough spot,” Danberg said. “They do not have the specialized training that refinery fire crews have, and that is a serious concern.”

According to Marathon, the new team will continue to work with the refinery’s full-time fire chief, fire mechanic and EMT firefighter.

“This is a best-in-class model that is used across Marathon Petroleum refineries and adheres to NFPA and API standards,” the statement reads.

Marathon’s $23 billion buyout of Andeavor, formerly known as Tesoro, in 2018, included the 102,000 barrels-per-day refinery in St. Paul Park, a community of about 5,300 located on the Mississippi River about 29 miles southeast of Minneapolis.

Marathon will continue to honor all mutual aid agreements with state and county agencies and offer training sessions within the refinery to community first responders, the statement reads.

“In 2020 alone, the St. Paul Park refinery is investing more than $3 million in emergency response equipment, as we continue to implement world-class technologies to ensure the safety of our community,” the statement reads. “This is in addition to investments of nearly $50 million since 2013 in our safety and emergency response infrastructure.”

The transition to the new refinery-based firefighting capability will continue over the next 12 months, with Marathon representatives meeting with local responders to address any concerns, the statement reads.

Built in 1939, the St. Paul Park facility is one of only two refineries located in Minnesota.