Explosion, Fire At BP Whiting Refinery Unit
August 28, 2014 — Fire broke out late last night after an explosion in a process unit at the north end of the BP Refinery in Whiting. It was not in a section of the refinery that recently underwent modernization. The blast was heard as far away as Highland and Griffith.
BP spokesman Scott Dean said that about 9 p.m., there was what he called an “operational incident.” He said the refinery’s in-house fire department responded to the incident and the fire was extinguished at 10:55 p.m. Dean said the BP Refinery operations were minimally impacted as a result of the incident. One refinery employee was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, but was later released.
A resident who lives at Schrage Avenue and 121st Street, just across the street from BP’s new expansion site, told the “Post-Tribune” that he felt what sounded like a big boom, kind of like roman candles exploding, and the blast shook his house windows. The “Times” reports that a compressor at the process unit may be the cause of the blast and fire.
Wednesday was the 59th anniversary of a disastrous explosion in Whiting. On Aug. 27th, 1955, a series of explosions ripped apart the Standard Oil Refinery’s 250-foot tall fluid hydroformer unit 700 in Whiting. Only two were killed — one of them a 3-year-old child at a nearby house — but the conflagration is considered one of the worst industrial disasters in northwest Indiana history.