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Archive for Saturday, August 18, 2007

Coffeyville refinery restarts after flooding that devastated town

August 18, 2007

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— The Coffeyville Resources refinery has restarted most of the operating units that had been shut down after flooding hit Coffeyville earlier this summer, company officials said Friday.

The refinery had been processing about 108,000 barrels a day of crude oil, but the company said it was now operating at rates up to about 98,000 barrels per day.

"Coffeyville Resources is moving much faster than anyone thought possible to restore refinery operations," said Jack Lipinski, chief executive officer. Original estimates put the refinery startup in September.

The first refinery unit returned to service was the catalytic reformer, which came on line at reduced capacity Aug. 6. Other major units followed.

Between 2,500 to 3,000 Coffeyville residents were displaced after flooding along the Verdigris River started at the end of June. The river topped its banks and about 71,000 gallons of oil spilled from the Coffeyville Resources refinery, mixing with raw sewage and other waste.

The spill coated houses and lawns in a slimy, smelly goo and led to a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court against Coffeyville Resources.

State health officials have said that the oil spill from the refinery during the flooding began when the valve on a refinery storage tank was left open.

The company's adjacent nitrogen fertilizer plant, while flooded, sustained less damage than the refinery because of its elevation. It was restarted and began shipping product two weeks after the flood, the company said in a news release Friday.

However, earlier this month, an ammonia leak at the nitrogen fertilizer plant sent 18 refinery workers to a hospital.

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