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When edie was published, news on the cause and effects of the explosion on 16 April at US petrol giant, Conoco’s, Humber refinery at South Killingholme, was not fully available, and the plant, one of the UK’s most important oil processing facilities, remained shut. However damage to human health and the environment appears to have been minimal, with only two people slightly hurt by the explosion.

“We are still assessing the damage and the cause of the explosion,” Matthew Lyons, Manager of Government and Public Affairs at Conoco, which operates under the name Jet in the UK, told edie. “There were no hazardous emissions, so there is no threat to the community or environment. Most of the damage seems to be at the source of the explosion, the Saturate Gas Unit. We have made a technical environmental notification to the Environment Agency. The plant will remain shut for at least two or three weeks. In any case it will not be opened until Conoco and the HSE are confident that it is safe to do so.”

A spokeswoman at Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, which runs several reserves in the area surrounding the refinery, said that the group was keeping an eye on the situation, but that they were not aware of any environmental problems. She added that the organisation has a good relationship with Conoco. In 1999, a serious oil spillage from the nearby North Lindsey Oil Refinery (owned by Total and Fina) caused damage at the Trust’s reserves at Killingholme Haven Pits Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The Conoco 480 acre site came on stream in 1969 and produces 8% of the UK’s petrol, exporting more than five million tonnes of petroleum products a year, almost half its production. Crude oil is pumped to the site through a 14 mile pipeline from storage tanks at Tetney where it is discharged from tankers carrying shipments of up to 100,000 tonnes into the Humber Estuary. The refinery products include fuel gas, propane, butane, benzene, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuels, heating oils, sulphur and several types of electro-grade cokes. Products are shipped out by road, rail, sea and pipeline.

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