A 2.5 million gallon storage tank exploded at the California-based Alon USA Bakersfield Refinery on 30 November.
No one was reported killed or injured
There was no immediate indication of what caused the explosion, says Chad Druten, a spokesman for Paramount Petroleum, part of the refinery’s owner, Alon USA Energy. He said the tank was not in service at the time.
Kern County Fire Department spokesman Sean Collins said the tank was in the process of being cleaned and a small amount of diesel sludge in the tank somehow caught fire.
Firefighters used water to protect equipment near the damaged tank. They extinguished the remaining fire at the bottom of the tank with foam.
The refinery continues to operate and no evacuations took place at the plant or at surrounding homes, according to Collins.
Druten said the area around the tank was shut down and secured, and that an investigation has been launched to determine what caused the accident.
The 103-employee plant processes vacuum gas oil, a byproduct of Paramount Petroleum’s Long Beach-area refining operations.
The Bakersfield refinery was scheduled to cease production for two weeks in December while it undergoes routine maintenance.
The refinery sat idle for about 28 months until Alon reopened it in June. The company bought it out of bankruptcy from the former owner, Utah-based Flying J Inc.
The refinery processes more than 10,000 barrels of gas oil a day, turning it into roughly 300,000 gallons of diesel and 140,000 gallons or more of petrol daily. It also makes smaller amounts of propane, butane and other petroleum products.