Anacortes, WA Refinery Explosion And Fire, Apr 2010
Community In Shock.
As word of the fatalities spread through the community, residents braced for the news and turned to one another for support.
"Right now, we're all pretty much in shock," said Joe Solomon, president of United Steel Workers Local 12-591, which represents about 200 Tesoro refinery workers. "Anytime one of our members is injured or a fatality is involved, it hits all of us really hard."
ALDRIDGE, known by many locals as a skilled finish carpenter, went to work at the refinery relatively recently, said David Yoder, owner of the Brown Lantern Ale House in Downtown Anacortes.
"With the construction industry not doing so well, I guess he felt the need to get a more stable paycheck," Yoder said. "He was very excited to be getting a new job." He described ALDRIDGE as
"just one of those genuine, decent people that's good to be around."
At the ALDRIDGE home, on a hillside above town, a woman who answered the door Friday afternoon said, "We're in a time of grief right now ... We don't really have anything to say."
At the nearby St. Mary Catholic Church, where a Good Friday service was about to begin, Pastor Vu Tran said the victims would be remembered in prayers through the Easter weekend. "It's a terrible loss for the community," he said. "We turn to Jesus for hope and healing and peace."
The Tesoro plant has 360 full-time employees and pays $33 million annually in salaries, wages and property taxes, according to a company fact sheet. It sits on about 900 acres, with refinery equipment taking up about 60 of those acres.
The Tesoro refinery was fined $85,700 last year for 17 "serious" safety violations - meaning there was a risk of
"death or serious physical injury" from each the violation - discovered during a state L. & I. inspection.
That was later reduced to three violations and a $12,250 settlement.
The plant has been operating at about one-third capacity since Friday morning's fire.
Wholesale gas prices in Washington stayed flat throughout the day, according to Tim Hamilton, of Automobile United Trades Organization, which represents dealers who operate about 300 service stations in the state.
Hamilton said that so far it appeared unlikely the fire would cause a spike in Washington gasoline prices, but if the Tesoro refinery capacity stays at one-third for an extended period of time,
"then we have a problem."
Blast Shakes House.
Lisa Wooding lives about a mile away from the refinery and can see it from her window.
She was lying on her sofa when she saw a red glow against her neighbor's house. When she went to the window, her whole house shook with the explosion. "There were big flames coming out and black smoke, and it looked like embers over the refinery," she said. "Then the emergency sirens started going off."
Michael Curran was sitting in the den of his house when he felt what sounded like a large sonic boom. At first he thought it was an exercise by Navy jets, but then he heard the sirens.
"I went to the window and saw a big plume of smoke and knew something had happened at the refinery."
The Seattle Times Washington 2010-04-02