Saturday, September 24

Refineries halted, damage unknown

Faced with the possibility of a direct hit from a major hurricane, many, if not all, of Southwest Louisiana’s chemical plants and oil refineries ordered rare complete shut downs and evacuated their workers.

Information is limited, but as of Saturday evening workers at the area’s two major oil refineries, ConocoPhillips and Citgo, had not been able to return to assess the damage to their facilities.

“We’re totally shut down,” Citgo spokeswoman Patricia Prebula said Saturday by phone. “We’re trying to get our people back.”

Prebula said a special Citgo team will return as soon as possible to assess the damage and begin the gradual process of restarting the refinery.

The ConocoPhillips headquarters in Houston were closed Saturday due to Rita, but the company said on its Web site that its local facility made a “controlled shutdown” prior to the storm.

“Damage to (the) Lake Charles refinery and offshore assets is being assessed,” the company said.

The Environmental Protection Agency said on its Web site that it sent advance teams to Texas plants to assist in the shutdowns. The EPA made no mention of teams being sent to Louisiana.

Jeremy Harper
American Press Staff Writer

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