US environmental groups seek probe of Citgo refinery leak

28 August 2009 22:44  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Environmental groups Sierra Club and Citizens for Environmental Justice sent a letter to the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) on Friday requesting it to further investigate a refinery fire at Citgo’s Corpus Christi refinery in Texas that led to the release of nearly 4,000 pounds (1.8 tonnes) of hydrogen fluoride.

The fire occurred 19-20 July in the 163,000 bbl/day refinery’s alkylation unit, and resulted in the largest hydrogen fluoride leak at the plant since 1988, the groups said.

One worker was hospitalised following the incident.

The groups also alleged serious public health concerns over Citgo’s failure to notify and evacuate the nearby community, claiming citizens had to rely solely on the media to learn the dangers of the fire.

“Citgo compounded the threat of toxic vapors of hydrogen fluoride from the fire by failing to inform residents of an option to evacuate, since they could be in danger if the winds shifted,” said Neil Carman, a director with Sierra Club.

The CSB sent an investigative team to the site after the fire to assess the immediate situation.

Citgo and CSB representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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