Eight hospitalized, some seriously injured after Newfoundland refinery explosion

st. Johns, NL – Eight people were taken to hospital after an explosion occurred Friday at a come-by He Chance refinery in NL, about 150 kilometers west of St. Johns, police said.

The RCMP said some were severely injured in the blast and had to be airlifted to St. John’s. Jolene Garland was unable to confirm that number.

“The fire caused by the explosion has been contained, there are no further dangers to the workplace, and all employees have been reported,” The Mounties said in a news release Friday evening.Police and State Labor Both health and safety departments have launched investigations into the incident, the release said.

Refinery owner Braya Renewable Fuels said in a statement Friday evening that the company is cooperating fully with the authorities’ investigation.

“We will do everything we can to support (the injured) and their families during this period,” the statement said.

The refinery is a major source of employment in the town of Come By Chance and its neighboring Arnold Cove. About 1,200 people live in the two municipalities together.

The refinery, which was producing oil before it went on sale in November, had halted operations for more than a year amid crashing global oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas-based private equity firm Cresta Fund Management has announced it will take control of a refinery and convert it to produce renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. The facility and its operator have since been renamed Braya Renewable Fuels.

As of Friday, the conversion of oil production plants to biofuel operations was still underway, a company spokeswoman said.

Local police urged people to stay away from the refinery so as not to disturb emergency workers and investigators. Later on Friday, his local RCMP in Clarenville, the Netherlands, closed the parking lot of the Sobeys grocery store so that emergency aircraft could land and pick up the injured.

Garland said several aircraft, including Cormorant helicopters, were called in from a small hospital in Clarenville to transport the wounded to the state capital for care.

Prime Minister Andrew Fury tweeted Friday his concern for those injured in the blast.

“I have spoken with company and union representatives to share my concern and good luck with the injured workers, their families, friends and colleagues,” Fury wrote. Thank you to everyone who gave me.”

Federal Labor Secretary Seamus Oregan also tweeted about the incident. He represents the Newfoundland district of St. His Johns His South Mount His Pearl.

“We are all thinking of the injured workers and their families at the Come By Chance Refinery,” Oregan wrote.

Sarah Smelly

canadian press