A corroded pipe that went years without proper inspection was the beginning of a 2009 explosion at a northern Utah oil refinery that knocked a neighboring home off its foundation and burned dozens of others in a neighborhood just north of Salt Lake City, UT.
That was the first official findings on the blast at the Silver Eagle Refinery in Woods Cross by an outside consulting group for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, officials said last Thursday.
No one suffered serious injuries in the explosion, but homeowners in the neighborhood said it made selling their houses nearly impossible. A city building inspector condemned one house as structurally unsound after the blast shifted it off its foundation and knocked loose a roof truss.
The report found a 10-inch reactor pipe tore and began gushing hydrogen, causing it to ignite and launch a fireball toward a nearby neighborhood.
The board, which has no authority to issue violations, said the pipe did not undergo proper inspections as it wore thin over the years. The report came from Texas-based consulting company Exponent.
The facility at the time of the explosion made paraffin wax used to shellac supermarket apples.
After the blast, it closed temporarily under recommendation from the board. The facility now operates under Toronto-based International Group of Canada.
Its engineers have since worked to resolve the inspection issues, said Jerry Lockie, general manager of refining.
“We’ve gone through that entire unit with a fine-tooth comb and addressed everything,” Lockie said.
The refinery now processes waxy crude from the Uinta Basin for diesel fuel and a raw form of gasoline it sends to Evanston, WY, Lockie said.