Feds Flock to Explosion Site - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

02.19.07

Feds Flock to Explosion Site

It could be weeks or even months before we know what caused a section of the Valero McKee refinery to explode Friday, and even longer before the plant re-opens.
  

An aggressive investigation is underway by several agencies to pinpoint the cause.
  

NewsChannel 10's Marissa Bagg has more on what is going on at the site now that the fire is out. 
    
The only people allowed on site right now are emergency personnel, or those involved in the investigation - which is coming slowly but surely. 
 
The flames are now gone, but it's no where close to being safe for operation.

"It's still a high-risk area we haven't sounded the all clear. There is still a hot zone in the plant.

But that site is shrinking everyday and they are securing it more and making it safer, once we get the all clear we can bring in more employees and get on with the recovery efforts," says Mary Rose Brown, Valero Energy Spokeswoman. 
  

Representatives with OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are at the plant this week to figure out what happened.
  

 Others are assessing damage, and the news is, it could've been a lot worse.

"One thing they're doing right now is testing all of the materials in all of the tanks to make sure they're still up to quality to ship out and we should be in good shape there because the fire was restricted to one area of the plant which was a blessing," says Brown.
  

Pipelines that transport refined products to cities like Albuquerque, Colorado Springs and Denver are shut down, but the product is still getting to them.

"We've gotten all of our commercial obligations covered so in the short term we are in good shape, in the long term we'll just have to see how long it takes the plant to get back up and see where we are," says Brown.
  

Employees who had to evacuate Friday have been back to the plant to pick up their cars and other belongings.
  

Brown added Valero may know as early as tomorrow when employees will be called back to work.

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