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Husky Hoax: Activists pretending to work for refinery reach out to Superior residents

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 9:31 PM CDT
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SUPERIOR, WI. (KBJR 6) --Dozens of Superior residents may have been led astray by a group claiming to be a public safety initiative and PR firm for Cenovus Superior Refinery in Superior, Wisconsin.

The group calling themselves ‘Husky Friends’ sent postcards to Superior residents saying they qualify for a “complimentary hydrogen fluoride compassion kit.”

The activist group said its mission is to make Superior residents aware of the refinery’s stored Hydrogen Fluoride and the danger they say it poses.

But the Superior refinery is calling ‘Husky Friends’ and its mission a “hoax.”

Shortly after the group announced its campaign to the media Tuesday morning, Cenovus Energy reached out to KBJR 6, denying knowing anything about the group.

Eventually, on Tuesday, ‘Husky Friends’ so-called media rep said the campaign was a satirical attempt to warn people about what they call ‘the dangers of hydrogen fluoride.’

It’s a chemical, housed at the Superior Refinery, that caused controversy after the 2018 explosion.

Diane Grymala, a Superior resident, said she remembers the explosion like it was yesterday.

“I was in Ashland that day, and I got all these calls from work, they were sending pictures to me saying ‘lucky you’re not here, lucky you’re not here,’ and it all went downhill from there that day,” Grymala said.

On Monday, she received a Husky check, compensation from Cenovus for damages caused by the explosion.

But the same day, Grymala also received a postcard from ‘Husky Friends,’ leaving her confused about the validity of both.

“I thought it was actually just them sending it out with this,” Grymala said. “I thought it was them brushing things over and saying everything’s going to be okay.”

While the checks are legitimate, the postcards are not.

Jim Haugen, who told us he’s part of ‘Husky Friends,’ said while they’re pretending to be part of Cenovus, the work they’re doing is perfectly ethical.

“I would say that ‘Husky Friends’ is an accurate portrayal of the disregard that Husky and Cenovus have for the safety of the communities of Superior and Duluth,” Haugen said. “So we’re using satire to illuminate an essential truth of the situation.”

But for Grymala, the deception arriving in neighborhood mailboxes on the eve of the explosion’s anniversary is something she can’t understand.

“I mean, why would they do it around the same time, even if it was a legit company, why would they do it around this anniversary,” Grymala said. “They have to send it on on this exact day? Wow.”

Haugen wouldn’t tell KBJR 6 who he actually works for or where he lives.

He also refused to say how much money ‘Husky Friends’ has spent on this, and who’s funding it all.

As of Tuesday night, ‘Husky Friends’ remained active on social media.

Their Twitter account shared what appears to be a promotional video.

In that video, ‘Husky Friends’ reps appear to pitch their campaign to Mayor Jim Paine.

A City of Superior rep told us ‘Husky Friends’ showed up at Paine’s office Monday, without warning.

That spokesperson said they felt like something was wrong during most of the conversation.

Cenovus Energy officials were not available to comment on camera.

They did insist they have no connection to ‘Husky Friends’.

No word if the company, which is based in Canada, plans to take legal action.

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