Husky Rebuild Process Begins; Company Plans to Continue to Use Hydrogen Fluoride

Demolition has begun for the rebuilding process of the Husky Refinery after last year's explosion in Superior, and the organization says it plans to continue to use the controversial chemical hydrogen fluoride.

SUPERIOR, Wis.-Demolition has begun for the rebuilding process of the Husky Refinery after last year’s explosion in Superior, and the organization says it plans to continue to use the controversial chemical hydrogen fluoride.

“Ongoing use of hydrogen fluoride (HF) is proposed as part of the rebuild plan, with additional safety measures being implemented,” Husky said in a statement. “HF is used to produce high octane gasolines which are an integral part of the refinery’s product mix and economic viability. As part of the rebuild engineering and design phase, alternative alkylation options to HF were considered. This analysis included technology reviews, risk assessments, discussions with subject matter experts, and site visits. “

As to HF, additional safety enhancements, with regulatory approval, would include:

  • A rapid acid transfer system, that can be activated in the event of a leak to quickly transfer HF into an independent secure holding tank.
  • Additional layers of water mitigation. The Superior Refinery currently has a water system that includes a dedicated curtain for the HF tank and two water cannons, which are a highly effective method of addressing hydrofluoric acid vapors. Additional curtains, pumps, and water cannons are being proposed.
  • Enhanced leak detection, including a dedicated area laser detection system and additional cameras.

There was no release of HF during last year’s fire.

Rebuild

Husky also said the rebuilding process is expected to begin in the fall of 2019.

Key features of the project include:

  • The refinery will be rebuilt with the same throughput capacity and once again be able to produce a full slate of products to service the region, including asphalt, gasoline, diesel and fuel oils.
  • The rebuild will use Best Available Control Technology (BACT), which incorporates advances in technology and efficiencies made by the refining industry.
  • The rebuilt facility will be more energy efficient and in full compliance with state and federal regulations.
  • Construction is planned to begin in the fall of 2019, with a target of resuming partial operations in late 2020.
  • Local contractors and services will be employed in the rebuild whenever possible.
  • The project is expected to create 350 jobs at peak during construction.

“The investment in the refinery rebuild is estimated to be more than $400 million,” according to a press release from Husky. “Additional investments are being made in modifications and safety enhancements to the facility.”

The Superior Refinery directly employs about 200 workers with a payroll of $22.5 million.

An open house is planned for Tuesday, April 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Superior Middle School to share the rebuild plans and timelines.

 

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