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405 damage claims filed in Woods Cross oil spray

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17 2012 1:22 p.m. MDT

Leslee Lyth washes her property that got coated in oil at her home in the Wood Haven Mobile Park in Woods Cross on Aug. 31, 2012. The evening before, a pressurized fuel oil tank released fuel oil in the form of a spray into the area. No one was harmed during this event, but the fuel oil coated buildings, cars, and roads immediately southeast of the tank, which is located at the eastern side of the refinery near the railroad tracks.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

WOODS CROSS — More than 400 homeowners and businesses filed damage claims following a freak release of 8,400 gallons of oil and oil foam into the sky.

Conrad Jenson, engineering manager at the HollyFrontier refinery in Woods Cross, said 405 claims have been made, and all but about 25 have been resolved since the Aug. 30 mishap. The company is in the process of working through the remaining claims.

“We realize that this is an imposition on the community and the local residents and we want to make sure we do everything we can to clean it up and return their lives back to normal,” Jenson said Wednesday.

Additionally, Jenson said the company had followed up with 150 homeowners and businesses to make sure they have been satisfied with the cleanup.

HollyFrontier continues to investigate what went wrong in the oil tank where the release happened, but Jenson said officials currently believe hot oil and water came into contact inside it, and the resulting steam and pressure culminated in thousands of gallons of oil and oil foam being propelled through a roof seam.

The oil-coated structures were in Woods Cross, West Bountiful and Bountiful.

“We need to get back into the tank and inspect it to see if there was anything perhaps that failed inside of there,” Jenson said. “We’re also doing a survey of all the best practices in the industry for hot oil tank operation, design and configuration to see if there is something that’s unique out there about this tank that we can learn and then modify and improve it so that this doesn’t happen again.”

West Bountiful leaders were updated on the progress Tuesday at a City Council meeting.

“I think we are confident as a city that they are doing everything they can to prevent anything — any accidents,” Councilwoman Debbie McKean said.

She said she has received positive feedback from residents about the refinery's actions.

“We were just really pleased as a mayor and council with how quickly they responded and how thorough they’ve been,” McKean said. “They go back and check and recheck and make sure everybody’s happy and satisfied with what’s been done.”

HollyFrontier has pumped $500,000 into cleanup efforts so far, Jenson confirmed. It remains unclear what the damage estimate is for the refinery itself.

E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

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