Irving Oil charged a year after refinery explosion in Saint John

WATCH (Nov. 16, 2018): More than a month after an explosion and fire shut down Saint John's Irving Oil refinery, we still don't know what caused the blast.

Three charges have been laid against Irving companies in connection with last year’s explosion at a Saint John refinery.

WorkSafeNB says one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act was laid against Irving Oil Limited and two charges were laid against the employer, Irving Oil Refining GP.

The charges were laid on Oct. 1.

READ MORE: ‘We’re very grateful’ — No serious injuries following explosion at Saint John refinery

As many as 3,000 workers were at the refinery during Thanksgiving weekend last year when the explosion shook the historic port city.

Saint John residents described feeling an explosion at about 10:15 a.m. local time at Irving’s refinery on the city’s east side.

A malfunction in the refinery’s diesel-treating unit, where sulphur is removed from diesel fuel, is believed to have been the cause of the explosion.

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Locals say they’re growing frustrated with a lack of information about exactly what happened.

“It’s unfair,” says Ronald Stevens, who lives nearby. “Everybody should know what’s going on.”

“I haven’t heard a whole lot in the past year about it,” says neighbour George Langille.

At least four people were treated for minor injuries directly after the incident. Most of the facility was shut down for major maintenance, and nearly all the workers were contractors working on the turnaround.

Saint John mayor calling for meeting with industrial partners after explosion
Saint John mayor calling for meeting with industrial partners after explosion

Kyle Christiansen, another Saint John resident, says he’s pleased to see the case proceed.

“It’s good to get it out there so the public knows because these people working in our community deserve the right to have a safe working environment, especially somewhere as big as Irving,” he says.

“I think that it’s good that these charges are being brought forward and brought to the public’s attention.”

The Irving Oil refinery employs about 1,400 people and is the largest in Canada. It produces more than 320,000 barrels of finished energy products every day, with more than half going the northeastern U.S.

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Global News reached out to Irving Oil requesting an on-camera interview, but instead, Global received an e-mail statement from Sam Robinson, a director of communications for Irving Oil, that says in part “safety is a core value at Irving Oil.”

“As this is now a legal matter, we are not in a position to offer any further comment at this time.”

WorkSafeNB says the case is due back in court November 5.

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