Citizens Express Environmental Concerns at Husky Fire Listening Session

UW-Extension hosted the session to collect comments and questions from residents

SUPERIOR, Wis. – A community listening session at Superior Middle School got heated as community members express environmental concerns in the aftermath of April’s Husky Energy Refinery explosion and fire.

The listening session was offered by the University of Wisconsin Extension for Superior and other area residents to ask questions about the refinery fire and have their comments heard.

Fear and anxiety are still high for some nearly three weeks after the refinery explosion and fire.

Members of the community have real environmental concerns and they made their voices heard.

“I want to make sure that not only do we tackle the issue of this refinery almost killing everyone in this city, but do we also figure out how to prevent long-term chronic health impacts from people who live right here,” said Ginger Juel, a community activist and Superior native at the session.

The Husky Refinery incident did not kill anyone, but concerned citizens have a lot of questions for Husky Energy and government officials.

“There’s still a lot of anxiety in the community,” said James Anderson, Community and Economic Development Educator for UW-Extension. “There’s a lot of rumors, a lot of discussion about the Husky fire, and we really wanted to give a focused wave for positive conversation and so people could get their questions out and as a sounding board for the community that we can then get information out to the agencies.”

Everyone at the session received three discussion questions:

What concerns do you have about Husky Energy following the fire?

What concerns do you have about emergency services and government response to the fire?

What concerns do you have about the environment following the fire?

“I want to know why the DNR and Superior Water Light and Power has said over and over again that our water is safe when on May 3rd and on May 4th the DNR and Superior Water Light and Power both told me via email and over phone they do not have access to the data as to what has been released,” said Juel.

Answer to those questions were discussed with DNR, public health and elected officials.

According to UW-Extension officials, they will publicly release all submitted questions and answers by next Monday.

Some citizens aren’t satisfied with that. They tell us the session wasn’t the answer they wanted.

“I don’t necessarily think that anything is going to come from this,” said Juel. “I think that this listening session is purely to appease the community.”

The Wisconsin DNR tells us they have not detected any risk to drinking water following the fire.

They and other agencies are continuing to study any possible health risks.

Categories: Environment, Health, News, News – Latest News, Public Safety, Wisconsin