Miracle on I-20: 5 injured in huge explosion. Alon Refinery – Big Spring TX Monday, February 18, 2008 “President’s Day”. Call it the “Miracle on Refinery Road.".
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Alon Refinery – Big Spring TX
Monday, February 18, 2008
While national news attention naturally focused on the more horrific aspects of Monday's explosion at the Alon Refinery, what truly amazed anyone who saw the fire up close was that no one was killed.
"There is a very simple explanation for that," Big Spring Mayor Russ McEwen said. "The Lord was looking out for our community and the refinery workers today. There is no other explanation.“
Considering the enormity of the explosion, it's hard to argue with McEwen's assertion. The explosion was heard as far away from Snyder, 45 miles distant, and the concussive force of the blast shattered windows miles away.
In addition, several sections of the refinery remained ablaze late this afternoon. And yet, of the five injuries reported, none are considered life-threatening. One worker was airlifted to a Lubbock hospital with burns, while three other refinery employees were transported to Scenic Mountain Medical Center with concussion-related injuries. An additional injury was suffered when a passing motorist was struck by debris.
While Alon officials would not confirm details surrounding the cause of the blast, eyewitness reports claim it started with a propylene gas leak in the light gas unit of the refinery. A refinery worker who asked not to be identified said that workers discovered a "knee-high" cloud from the gas leak minutes before the initial explosion. Quickly realizing there was nothing to be done to stop the leak, they ordered everyone to evacuate the area.
That quick action apparently saved lives. "I think they were very safety conscious today, but this was just one of those circumstances where things just happened," McEwen said. "If you're dealing with petrochemicals, these sort of things are going to happen.”
It is that emphasis on safety that will guide Alon actions as officials set out to bring the refinery back to operation.
"They want to do this as expeditiously as possible," he said. "They want the refinery open tomorrow, but they want to make sure it's safe.
--Big Spring Herald