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Residents in Saint John, N.B., 'very nervous' after explosion at Irving Oil refinery

Flame and smoke erupts from the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B., on Monday, October 8, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

Don Darling says explosion at Irving Oil facility is an opportunity to examine and enhance city's emergency preparedness

SAINT JOHN — The mayor of Saint John, New Brunswick says the city is launching an extensive review of its emergency response capabilities a day after a massive oil refinery blast. Don Darling says the explosion at the Irving Oil facility yesterday is an opportunity to examine and enhance the city’s emergency preparedness.

“There will be an extensive review of our emergency preparedness plans, that we well review our response for any opportunities to enhance that, even though I believe we preformed in a fantastic way yesterday,” Darling said

He added residents of the neighbourhood that was the scene of a massive oil refinery blast remain “very nervous” after a string of recent events at the Irving Oil facility — including an explosion yesterday that burned for hours — has people on edge.

“We’ve gone through a series of butane leaks and explosions and fires. I think it has people very nervous, rightly so,” he added.

No effect no gas prices

Meanwhile, fuel market analysts say the quick return to the facility and the fact that fuel storage tanks are likely full mean the refinery shutdown should have little short-term impact on consumers in terms of gas prices.

In a tweet, the company says the refinery as a whole is safe and the site of the incident is “isolated and contained.”

Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, says gasoline prices in the key New York Harbour market were actually trending lower on Tuesday morning as storage levels in the northeastern U.S. are 20 per cent higher than they were a year ago.

Michael Ervin, senior vice-president at the Kent Group Ltd., says even if Irving’s refinery maintenance shutdown is extended because of damage from the explosion, the fact it is on the ocean means alternative supplies of fuel can easily be brought in from offshore to ensure there are no shortages and resulting price increases.

There were as many as 3,000 workers at the refinery on Monday, which produces more than 320,000 barrels of energy products per day.

The company says crews working to maintain the refinery will be back on site this evening after it was determined there are no lingering air quality or safety concerns after the explosion Monday.

“Through our continuous air monitoring, we have determined that there are no concerns with regards to air quality,” Irving stated.

“Accordingly, we are currently planning to have our turnaround team back on site this evening for the night shift. Our plans for returning to full turnaround mode will be discussed at that time.”