Operational Issue Causes Refinery Fire In Sarnia

(SARNIA, ON) – Imperial Oil in Sarnia is describing a fire at its Sarnia facility as an “operating issue” after a video was shared on social media.

The fire, which occurred around 6:20pm yesterday evening, necessitated the response of Imperial personnel. The company also notified the city of Sarnia, Environment Canada, and Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment about the operating issue causing visible flaring.

The video, which seemed to show the entire facility encompassed in flames, was posted by Lisa Pugliano Mrowiec on Facebook and elicited almost 1,400 comments and was shared 8,559 times. Some commentators questioned if it was fake news.

“Seem like a minor incident. Deviation in process caused them to flare hard for a couple hours. Looks a lot worse than what it is,” wrote Chris Mudge. “Also for those who don’t know, occasionally when you have a process upset in a refinery or upgrader you have to divert the process to flares to burn it off because you have nowhere to else to put it. It’s not some kind of way to put out a bunch more pollution like some very ignorant people are saying. It’s a safety measure. That’s not just excess pollutants being sent to flare it’s potentially valuable products being sent to flare to protect the people and equipment from failure and potential harm.”

The company stated in a release that it was monitoring the air quality at the Sarnia site’s fence-line as a precaution, but that, “… there are no issues with air quality currently identified.” Imperial Oil personnel also assisted in putting out a grass fire south of the facility and west of Vidal Street, on public property.

Imperial is investigating the cause of the operational issue. The all-clear was issued for both the operating issue and for the grass fire around 8:35pm.

No injuries were reported.

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