Questions to and from the City of Superior

Public Comments to Superior City Council
May 1, 2018

As a social scientist I have been talking to people and taking notes on their questions and experiences for the last several days since the Husky Refinery explosion on Thursday April 26. This is a list of questions I have heard and compiled from community members who live and work in Superior, many of whom are UW-Superior students. It’s important to note that these are not rhetorical questions, but ones that we are hoping for answers to at some point in the future from the appropriate authority.

  1. Is the site still hot? Are there still fire concerns?
  2. What’s the role of independent scientists in all of this, for verifying tests and getting second opinions? As we know, this is good science.
  3. Where can people go to get their questions answered that isn’t a Facebook page (which leaves them open to being attacked and trolled) and isn’t run by Husky Refinery?
  4. What medical symptoms should people be on the lookout for?
  5. What are the instructions for people who grow food locally, including commercial growers? What compensation will be available for them for these losses?
  6. Where did the particulates end up – in the blast zone, in the plume, where exactly?
  7. How will the city work with UWS to improve their evacuation plan?
  8. Why was UWS ever considered a mustering point?
  9. Why doesn’t the city have a designated shelter and a designated helpline ready to go in the event of an emergency if we have a refinery located in our community?
  10. What about the deer right at the explosion site? And what about the people who eat the deer?
  11. What is the status of Lake Superior? Will it be safe to swim in? And how will we know?
  12. What are Husky’s plans for the future of hydrofluoric acid? What are the city’s plans regarding this risk?
  13. Why are there propane gas tanks located just across the street from the refinery in the first place?
  14. Exactly what tests are being run on the water and soil, and what is the time frame of those tests?
  15. What was the cause of the explosion?
  16. What do repair and reconstruction of the refinery actually look like? Will tanks be patched or replaced?
  17. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) are found in the foam used to fight the fire at the refinery, and are highly toxic to aquatic systems. In fact 3M recently lost a lawsuit to the state of Minnesota for $850 million dollars. for not disclosing the health risk around the use of these chemicals. What efforts are being used to contain the PFCs and clean it up?
  18. Why isn’t Husky’s own wastewater treatment plant designed to treat the Class B foams needed to put out a fire at Husky’s refinery?

One thing I have learned over the last several days is that lack of information also causes panic.

Photo shows black cloud of billowing smoke with workers walking away toward the camera, and many power lines.

Husky Refinery Explosion close up. Photo by Sheila Lamb.

 

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