Fluoride Action Network

Group urges safer chemical for refinery

Source: Chicago Sun-Times | April 23rd, 1997 | by Tamara Kerrill
Industry type: Oil Refineries

A report released by an environmental group criticizes Clark Oil’s use of hydrofluoric acid at the company’s Blue Island refinery. The reports says a safer alternative is available. The report, compiled by California-based National Oil Refinery Action Network and issued last week, suggests that the 50-year-old plant could replace hydrofluoric acid with sulfuric acid as a refiner to make cleaner fuel. The report said sulfuric acid would be less likely to form a cloud and create a public hazard if it leaked from the plant. The report also said that hydrofluoric acid can be modified by a chemical process that makes it less likely to form a cloud.

The report was conducted for Citizens for a Better Environment and the Blue Island Good Neighbor Committee. The two groups were working with Clark on a plan for safer operation two years ago when the company ended talks.

More than 10,000 people live within a one-mile radius of the plant. About 380,000 live within a five-mile radius.

“We don’t want to close down the refinery,” said Joanna Hoeschler, program director for Citizens for a Better Environment. “It’s just our way of saying we don’t have to live with this problem; that there are safer alternatives.”

Clark failed to return several calls for comment.