In the six weeks since the Husky Refinery disaster, Superior citizens have questions about their safety and the role of the Husky Refinery in Superior moving forward. Silence from the city council has done nothing to answer these questions. It should be noted that the Husky Refinery disaster has not been on the agenda of any Superior City Council meeting since the incident.
This silence is worrisome for our community. Despite a request from Mayor Jim Paine, Husky has demonstrated no intention of removing the toxic hydrogen fluoride from its facility despite the existence of far safer technologies, such as ionic liquid processing. And other than Mayor Paine’s polite request, there has been no other action by the mayor or the City Council to stop the use of this dangerous chemical in our community.
By now, we know that explosions in the catalytic cracking unit at the refinery caused shrapnel to puncture the asphalt tank, spilling asphalt out where it caught on fire, worsening the disaster. What hasn’t been discussed, is at an Exxon refinery in California in 2015, a nearly identical failure of the catalytic cracking unit caused an explosion, launching shrapnel within 5 feet of the hydrogen fluoride tank at that refinery. Next time, the Husky Superior refinery goes up in flames, will shrapnel puncture the hydrogen fluoride tank, sending a toxic cloud into our community? I think our families deserve to not find out.
It is our right to decide what risks our community takes, and Husky, by continuing to use the unpopular and dangerous hydrogen fluoride, has decided that Superior residents don’t deserve that right, and that they, a multinational corporation with headquarters in Canada and investors in Hong Kong, will decide what level of safety the citizens of Superior deserve.
It is up to our elected officials, the city council and our mayor, to demand that Husky be a good neighbor and stop the use of this harmful chemical in our community since it is clear that Husky will not take this step on its own. At the same time, it is up to the citizens of Superior to call and email their representatives in the council and at the mayor’s office, and demand that action be taken. As the refinery prepares to rebuild, it is now that the city’s leadership has the opportunity to ban hydrogen fluoride in the city of Superior.
*Original letter online at https://www.superiortelegram.com/opinion/letters/4459174-city-officials-need-act