Sept. 05–A lawsuit filed against the owners of the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, Wis., alleges that the company’s negligence caused the explosion and fire that injured 36 people and forced thousands to flee the city in a mandatory evacuation.
The suit’s three plaintiffs said the evacuation forced them to spend money on things like food, supplies, transportation, and childcare. One woman said her mother, who was in home hospice, was stressed by the evacuation to a hospital, and died shortly afterward. A man said the fire left his house covered in ash.
The class-action suit filed by the Minneapolis law firm of Zimmerman Reed could potentially represent thousands of people whose lives were upended that day, according to the plaintiffs. Husky Energy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The April 26 blast sent shrapnel flying at the Husky plant, Wisconsin’s only oil refinery, piercing a tank of asphalt which then ignited in a massive fire. City officials ordered the evacuation amid fears that a nearby tank of highly toxic hydrogen fluoride might also leak.
A federal report released Aug. 2 said investigators suspect that a worn valve allowed air to mix with flammable hydrocarbons, causing the blast.
The four-count suit not only says that Husky Energy was negligent, causing a nuisance and the trespass on private land of soot, ash, and toxic substances, but that the plant’s use of hydrogen fluoride poses grave risks regardless of how safely the owners handle the toxic substance.
An Environmental Protection Agency worst-case scenario for the plant says a massive leak of the hydrogen fluoride tank would put 180,000 people at risk, or most of the Twin Ports population.
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