Four people were killed and one was seriously injured in an explosion at an oil refinery in southwest Wales, the plant’s owner Chevron Corp said yesterday.
The blast occurred at the 220,000 barrel per day Pembroke refinery on Thursday. A Chevron spokeswoman said the refinery remained fully operational yesterday.
Police said a fire had broken out after an explosion in a storage tank during maintenance. An adjacent storage tank was also damaged.
“I was in the back garden and I just heard a large explosion, looked around and I could see a fireball rising up into the sky,” local resident Phil Horne told the BBC, adding that smoke billowed out for 30 to 45 minutes.
The fire service said it sent 10 emergency vehicles to the scene and the ambulance service said it responded with three ambulances and an air ambulance.
“We will take every step possible to determine the series of events that led to this tragic incident,” US-based Chevron said.
Chevron put the refinery up for sale last year to lower its exposure to the refining business, echoing similar moves by rivals such as Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP PLC. Falling oil demand in Europe has made it the least attractive location for refinery investment.
US refiner Valero Energy Corp agreed in March to buy the refinery and other assets in a US$730 million deal expected to close in the third quarter.
Valero was not available for comment on whether it would go ahead with the purchase.
Britain’s Health and Safety Executive said it would be on site yesterday to begin an investigation in which the Environment Agency would also participate.