"As it is, we can just write this off as a very close call. Or we can learn from it. Not just in the Twin Ports, but all over the nation where hazardous chemicals and large population centers coexist. That is what smart people do. And as smart as we think we might have been, it is time to get even smarter."
I knew the fire this week up in Superior was bad, I did not know it was this bad. Yes, people were injured, property was damaged, and parts of Superior had to be evacuated. I wonder how many times evacuation drills were practiced in case something bad happened at the refinery. I dare say not many. Turns out, we came within a whisker of having a world class catastrophe.
I will be amazed to learn if even a small percentage of the population of Superior knew they were living under the Sword of Damocles. This refinery, located very close to the population center, is a witches brew of toxic products. What almost happened, but thank God it did not, was a large tank of hydrogen fluoride which was almost breached by the fire. Should that have happened (according to an article in this morning's paper), a "large, cold cloud of suffocating gas" could have put 180,000 souls in danger of injury or death.
One of the articles I read this morning addressed the unbelievable gridlock in getting people out of the blast and smoke area. It was a mess - or as we would say in the service, a real "cluster". It is a blessing, and totally amazing, that nobody died.
What I hope comes out of this very, very close call is honest to goodness lessons learned. How would Superior and Duluth handle a worst case scenario at the refinery? What are the iron clad evacuation plans? Or, is it impossible to get people out of the danger area in case of a mishap? These are all things the people of Superior need to know prior to this facility going on-line again.
As it is, we can just write this off as a very close call. Or we can learn from it. Not just in the Twin Ports, but all over the nation where hazardous chemicals and large population centers coexist. That is what smart people do. And as smart as we think we might have been, it is time to get smarter.