In a “Factual Investigative Update: Husky Superior Refinery Explosion and Fire,” the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board released its findings on the explosion and fire that occurred on April 26, 2018 in Superior, Wisconsin. The report was issued in December, 2018.

In its investigation, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) compared the incident to one at a refinery in Torrance, California in February of 2015. In both cases, the refinery’s Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) was the source of the explosion.

According to this report, “Both explosions resulted from the inadvertent mixing of hydrocarbons with air inside the unit that found an ignition source, resulting in an explosion.”

The CSB states that an important safeguard control system failed, allowing air to pass into the hydrocarbon side of the system because of an erosion hole in the orifice port of the system. “It was intended to be provided with [suitable] erosion protection,” the report states, but erosion created a hole that made the device unable to operate properly.

As with the Torrance explosion, the Superior incident happened when the FCCU was not in normal operation mode. In the 2015 Torrance explosion, the FCCU was in Standby mode. In Superior, the FCCU was being shut down to enter a turnaround after running since 2013.

After the 2015 Torrance incident, the CSB recommended that there be operating procedures for all modes of operation, not just for normal operation. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) set up a series of forums to talk about the causes of similar incidents, and to share information on how to prevent them.

As reported by the CSB, “As a result of the [2018 Superior] explosion, thirty-six people sought medical attention, including eleven refinery and contract workers who suffered OSHA recordable injuries. In addition, a portion of Superior, Wisconsin was evacuated.”

Investigation in Update: Superior Refinery Explosion Highlights Dangers of Industrial Work

The CSB report referred to in Update: Husky Superior Refinery Explosion and Fire highlights the dangers that are part of many industrial operations. In those dangerous areas, companies are legally required to provide reasonable safety measures. If those measures are not provided, or if they fail, tragedy can result.

If the safety measures fail because of improper maintenance or inspection, the people who are injured as a result are entitled to compensation.

Nothing can make up for the trauma of serious injury, or for the loss of a loved one. But at the very least, compensation can help with the skyrocketing medical bills and the loss of a family’s wage-earner.

The compassionate and expert attorneys at Pritzker Hageman law firm have years of experience in working with survivors, and families of victims, of fire and explosions. We have won multi-million dollar settlements to help keep families from being plunged into poverty, to ensure the best possible medical care, and to begin to put their lives back together.

To find out if you have a valid legal case, call us at 1-888-377-8900, or fill out the online contact form. The consultation is free, and has no obligation.


“Factual Investigative Update: April 26, 2018 Husky Superior Refinery Explosion and Fire.” U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, December, 2018.