Douglas County joins voices in opposition to hydrogen fluoride - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Douglas County joins voices in opposition to hydrogen fluoride

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SUPERIOR, WI -

Nearly a month after a fire and explosion at the Husky Refinery filled the Superior skyline with smoke local leaders say they're *satisfied with Husky's response so far, but several unanswered questions still have leaders and neighbors alike asking what comes next.

Both Superior Mayor Jim Paine and County Board Chair Mark Liebaert joined Husky representatives and other local leaders at a listening session Monday, where Paine said his first takeaway was optimism.

"The crowd of people with concerns was so small that it shows that most people are satisfied with the way this investigation and response is being played out," he said.

Though the Liebaert says the concerns he did hear tended to shifted to concerns about what's next for the refinery, i.e. Will there be long term effects? Will the refinery cover them? How will the refinery make things safer?

He also said many brought up hydrogen fluoride.

"Both the city and the county have asked I guess Husky to look into making due without that acid," he said.

The chemical used in the refining process has proven controversial after a number of reports about it's danger.

The Center for Public Integrity reports a release of 78,000 pounds of the chemical, the size of the refinery's tank, in the Twin Ports could injure or kill 180,000 people in a 20-mile radius.

According to a United Steelworkers report, 50 out of 148 refineries use the chemical.

"I understand if they took that acid out there are certain products that we could not produce at that refinery," Liebart said.

Liebaert said that's what Husky has been telling him and other local leaders when they bring up the issue.

"Whether that's something that's very important to region either, we need that product that they produce or to the refinery to have a successful bottom line, I don't know," he said.

Liebaert said the chemical was never in danger at the time of the fire because the first of three safe guards prevented the fire from spreading to the HF tank. 

Still, both leaders say they're standing by their request, but don't know yet how the refinery will respond.

"They're giving me the same answer they've given you in that they're evaluating it and it will be a while before they come to any kind of conclusions about that," Paine said.

According to mayor Paine, Husky said they need to finish their investigation and begin on-site repairs, before they can evaluate what it would take to get rid of hydrogen fluoride.

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