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Reader's View: Why is refinery still using toxic chemical?

The explosions and fires in Superior on April 26 were very scary to everyone in the area. Few may realize, however, how tragic the consequences could have been.

The explosions and fires in Superior on April 26 were very scary to everyone in the area. Few may realize, however, how tragic the consequences could have been.

I recall the story in the News Tribune on Feb. 25, 2011, "Murphy Oil found to use toxic chemical," which reported the use of hydrogen fluoride to refine high-octane gasoline at what's now the Husky Energy refinery. I learned how deadly this chemical, if released, would be to workers, to the environment, and to the entire community within 25 miles. The low-hanging cloud could "envelop Superior and Duluth - and put 180,000 people in the Twin Ports area at risk of injury or death," the story stated.

On April 27, I learned in the News Tribune that hydrogen fluoride is still being used, even today and even though other safer technologies now exist. Husky Energy owes it to us as citizens to explain why this refinery, even under new management, is still putting at risk the workers, the environment, and all of us across the Twin Ports area.

Since that original story came out, I have contacted fire chiefs and several newspapers and city administrators to learn if they could find out if hydrogen fluoride is still being used. Most showed concern but were not able or were unwilling to come up with an answer.

Thanks to the News Tribune and its coverage of the refinery fire, I now have a definitive answer. But I am still left with one question: Why?

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Patricia Richard-Amato

Duluth

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