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Saint John residents remain ‘very nervous’ after refinery blast, mayor says


SAINT JOHN, N.B. – The mayor of Saint John, N.B., says residents of a neighbourhood that was the scene of a massive oil refinery blast remain “very nervous,” even though the fiery incident has been stabilized.

Don Darling say the city’s large industrial base comes with risks and there needs to be a broader discussion about the interaction between residents and industry in the historic port city.

An explosion at the Irving Oil facility on Monday morning rocked a residential area on the east side of Saint John, sending flames and black smoke into the sky and causing minor injuries.

The city of Saint John has warned of possible “flare-ups” as the refinery comes back online.
Darling calls the city’s emergency response to the explosion “fantastic,” but says the city needs to ensure it has proper plans in place to protect residents.

He says there will still be an extensive review of the city’s handling of the incident, including its communication with residents.

A company official told reporters there had been a malfunction in the refinery’s diesel treating unit, where sulphur is removed from diesel fuel.

There were as many as 3,000 workers at the refinery Monday, but most of the facility had been shut down for maintenance.

Irving’s website says the refinery produces more than 320,000 barrels of “finished energy products” every day.

The company said it hoped to minimize the impact of the explosion on clients.

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