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Explosion reported at Irving Oil refinery in Saint John

Explosion reported at Irving Oil refinery in Saint John”

"My whole house shook".

Litsa Daeres, 34, who lives nearby, said she just started preparing Canadian Thanksgiving dinner when she heard a loud bang.

One worker at the refinery, who didn't want to be identified, said the initial blast had been enough to knock him down.

While he said Monday's blast "pales" to the deadly explosion on BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast in April 2010, Bhalloo added: "We can draw from that experience what could happen".

There were as many as 3,000 workers on the refinery Monday _ but most of the facility was shut down for major maintenance, and almost all of the workers were contractors working on the turn-around.

Scott said the unit was quickly shut down after the blast.

"The fire did take a number of hours to extinguish, with some of the material that had leaked into the area of the unit that was affected".

Irving says on Twitter that they are "actively assessing the situation" and they will share more information when it becomes available.

The refinery is near several residential neighbourhoods, and is about five kilometres from the city core, known as Uptown.

He said he and others saw a "very large black sooty plume of smoke" from their street.

"And my concern is that there's a power imbalance between the power regulator and these large refining companies", said Tucker.

He says there's a lot of public concern in this country about how oil is transported, but not much attention is paid to the safety issues around refineries themselves.

"If they have these incidents, it can lead to significant loss of production for some time", he said.

"And we open my blinds and the windows and all we saw was this huge cloud of black smoke".

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service, told CNBC the refinery is probably the most important in terms of fuel imports into the US Northeast market.

"We're sitting here and watching it burn right now", he said.



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