Husky Refinery Explosion: Lawyer Says Injured Deserve Justice

Oil Refinery LawsuitOne day after an explosion and massive fire at Husky Superior Refinery that sent 11 people to the hospital and prompted city and county officials to declare a state of emergency, evacuation orders affecting thousands of people in Superior, Wisconsin have been lifted. The orders were put in place yesterday due to air quality concerns from the thick, black smoke the fire generated for most of the day. A shelter-in-place advisory issued in Duluth, Superior’s neighboring city in Minnesota, was also lifted this morning.

Federal investigators were on their way to the site early this morning to begin an investigation of what caused the explosion at Wisconsin’s only oil refinery including a four-person team from the Chemical Safety Board. Husky Superior produces asphalt, gasoline, diesel and heavy fuel oils. When the blast occurred in a tower near an asphalt tank shortly after 10 a.m. on April 26, 180 Husky employees and 600 contract workers were inside the facility preparing for a planned shutdown for servicing and inspection next week.

Husky Refinery Explosion Injuries

At least 20 people suffered explosion injuries including lacerations and penetrating trauma from flying debris. Nine people were treated at the scene, 11 were transported to area hospitals one of whom sustained “a serious blast injury,” according to a statement from one of the hospital companies, Essentia Health.

Eric Hageman Lawyer
Attorney Eric Hageman

“As someone who has witnessed the real trauma that these families endure, my heart just goes out to them. They deserve justice,” said Eric Hageman, an explosion lawyer with Pritzker Hageman.

Initially, Essentia was caring for five patients at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth and five patients at St. Mary’s Hospital-Superior, but all patients needed to be moved to the Duluth hospital after an evacuation order was issued in the City of Superior.

Contractors from CTS Inc. of Wales, WI were inside the facility when the blast occurred. One of them, Eric Mathews, was about 200 yards away. He told the Duluth News Tribune that the explosion made a thunderous sound like  “a big sonic boom”  and he began running but then took shelter under a pipe rack and waited for the debris to stop falling.  Mathews told the paper that contract workers were on break in blast-proof shelters, called “blast shacks,” when the explosion occurred.

Firefighters had the fire contained briefly yesterday afternoon but it reignited forcing them to take a defensive stance. Gusting winds fueled the blaze and pumped the acrid smoke south in a billowing cloud so huge it could be seen 20 miles away.

Air quality concerns prompted Superior Mayor Jim Paine to order the evacuation of everyone within three miles to the east and west of the refinery, two miles to the north and 10 miles to the south. The City of Superior and Douglas County both declared a state of emergency.

Canadian energy company Husky Energy Inc., based in Calgary, Alberta, purchased the refinery from Calumet Specialty Products Partners LP for $435 million in cash in August 2017. At that time, Husky said it would retain 180 employees. The Superior refinery, one of three Husky Energy now owns in the U.S., can process 50,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada and the Bakken region, has two asphalt terminals and 3.6 million barrels of crude and product storage, according to the company’s website. Husky’s other U.S. refineries are both located in Ohio, one in Lima and one in Toledo.

Pritzker Hageman is one of only a few law firms in the country with a successful track record representing clients injured in explosions. Our lead attorneys for these cases, Eric Hageman and Fred Pritzker have secured multiple settlements of more than $20 million for their clients. If you would like to reach them for a free consultation, call toll-free at 1-888-377-8900 or use this contact form. There is no obligation.

This post was updated 4/30 to include information about the Chemical Safety Board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Category: Fire and Explosion
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