Thursday, 2 June 2011

Tragedy at Pembroke Oil Refinery

The news this evening is that 2 people have been killed in an explosion caused by a collision at the Chevron oil refinery near Pembroke in west Wales.

Details are sketchy at present and it is not sure whether it was two petrol tankers that collided with one another or otherwise at 6.30pm this evening but in addition to the unconfirmed fatalities, it is said that one man has been flown by air ambulance to Morriston Hospital in Swansea with burns injuries.

The site, which can refine 220,000 barrels of crude oil a day into petrol and other products, first came on stream in 1964. The refinery was initially owned by the Regent Oil Company, a large domestic marketer of Trinidad-produced oils. Regent was fully acquired by Texaco in 1956. Today the refinery is owned and branded by the Chevron Corporation, as a result of their acquisition of Texaco. Chevron put the refinery up for sale in late 2009, and have agreed the sale for £750M to Valero Energy Corporation

Relatives of friends of mine work at the plant and indeed my father's brother, my Uncle Desmond worked at the plant for many many years when it was owned by Texaco before he retired in the late 1990s. He passed away in 1999 and his retirement present from his colleagues at the Texaco plant, a large wooden mantlepiece clock with an engraved plaque now takes pride of place in my living room here in Cardigan. So this has come as quite a shock as one who knows of the area extremely well.

Indeed, I blogged here back in September of my many Pembrokeshire haunts and as I said then, one of those is the eery village of Rhoscrowther which sits in the shadow of this giant of 20th century energy production. I actually passed by the refinery only last summer on a random day-trip tour of the county with Matt King who needed ingratiating in many of our fine castles. I asked him to indulge my need to visit the village which my parents told me as a child had been cleared in the 1960s in preparation for the coming of the new refinery. All that remains now of what was an old medieval village is it's church and a few old pre-fab houses. Standing above it all, is this huge refinery. You really have to go there to realise just how much it overwhelmes the visual senses.

Tonight, it and everyone connected with it is in a state of shock as what looks to have been an awful accident has resulted in fatal consquences. My thoughts are with those families who are associated with this 1,400 strong operation at this deeply distressful time.

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Post Script
The news this morning is that 4 people have been killed with Dyfed-Powys Police saying that the explosion was in a 730 cubic metre storage tank, where maintenance was being carried out.

It's a horrific industrial accident and my thoughts are with everyone involved with the plant.

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