The Board of Commissioners discussed the purchase or appraisal of the Hudson Refinery property off of Highway 33 in executive session Tuesday night.
In August 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency declared the property a Superfund clean-up site because it represented “an imminent and substantial threat to public health and the environment.”
Just over two years later, the City of Cushing received a Superfund Redevelopment pilot grant totaling $100,000. The grant was intended to help the city find alternative uses for the property.
According to an EPA report filed in September, under the heading “health considerations,” the refinery’s north side still presents a threat to human health.
Yet the EPA confirmed the clean up was complete in June of 2003.
More than 70 hazardous chemicals at the site could cause health problems if they are touched, ingested or inhaled.
City Attorney Stewart Arthurs refused comment about the property. He did say that EPA and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality know more about the status of the property than the city.
The property has a checkered past. The exact date it was first used as a refinery is unknown but historical and aerial photos indicate it was operating as early as the mid 1930s.
The extent of the pollution was found while the CET Environment Services Inc., under contract from the EPA, was clearing the area of asbestos. The refinery was abandoned in 1982 with some tanks still containing chemicals.
While removing the asbestos on the south side of the property, CET discovered an alkylation plant on the north. An alkylation plant is often known as a “cracker plant” and is used to breakdown crude oils into marketable petroleum products.
The company discovered a tank from the plant that contained 99 percent pure anhydrous hydrofluoric acid.
According to Fluoride Action Network’s Web site the acid is clear and fumes when it comes in contact with oxygen. It is poisonous by ingestion, inhalation, absorption or contact. Although not immediately deadly, it can kill anywhere from eight hours to three days later according to the network.
The EPA reports that pipelines on the north side still had chemicals in them because the refinery was not properly shut down.
The poison attacks the calcium in a person’s blood ultimately causing heart failure. CET called the clean up one of its most complex and dangerous it has ever managed.