Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Irving Oil confirms 'major incident' at Saint John oil refinery

Irving Oil confirms 'major incident' at Saint John oil refinery

Dalzell, the chair of Saint John's Citizens Coalition for Clean Air, said the refinery already emits many different types of "volatile organic compounds" into the air: organic chemicals that have a high vapour pressure and can be hazardous to human health. Irving Oil confirmed Monday that a "major incident" occurred at its refinery.

Area residents described feeling an explosion shortly after 10 a.m. local time, and noted that flames and smoke could be seen from a great distance.

Saint John resident Doug Bruce said he was about five or six kilometres away from the refinery at the time of the explosion.

She told the AP that her whole house shook, and she thought her furnace exploded. It is now the largest oil refinery in Canada, capable of producing more than 300,000 barrels of refined products per day.

More than one-half of the finished products from the refinery are exported to the U.S. Northeast, according to Irving's website.

He added when he walked outside he saw thick black smoke billowing so he hopped in his auto to take a closer look.

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Mark Melanson and Jocelyn Legassie were sitting at the Tim Hortons on Hickey Road, about three kilometres away from the refinery, when they heard a popping sound.

Meanwhile, Saint John Police are asking the public to avoid the area. Several streets have been closed down.

They looked outside the window and saw black smoke and flames exceeding the height of the stacks at the refinery.

He chose to drive by the refinery and said he was nearby when he felt the vibrations of what he assumes must have been a second explosion. He said the incident reminded him of a similar event in the late 90s, when the same refinery suffered a similar explosion which left one person dead.

Irving says on Twitter that they are "actively assessing the situation" and they will share more information when it becomes available.

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