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Ergon-West Virginia officials continue investigations into plant fires

NEWELL — Officials with Ergon-West Virginia, provided an update, Wednesday, into the investigation of two fires at the company’s operation in Newell earlier this year.

The unrelated fires took place April 8 in an unoccupied maintenance shop, and May 29 in a processing unit. There were no injuries connected with either fire, company officials have reported.

According to information released by the company, Ergon-West Virginia is cooperating with local and federal agencies, and working with the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board the look into the cause of the processing unit fire.

“Ergon will always consider safety over production,” stated Emmitte Haddox, president and chief executive officer of Ergon Inc. “We employ hundreds of residents in this area both directly and indirectly, and nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our employees and our community. We are taking this process slowly and methodically.”

Employees at the plant conduct regular emergency management drills, with both internal teams and local agencies.

“It was that commitment to training and safety that prepared us well to respond to these incidents, minimize damage to the facility and keep our employees and surrounding community safe,” said Doug Burdick, vice president-refining at Ergon-West Virginia.

Both the maintenance shop and the process unit area are still shut down and will be reconstructed once investigations are complete. Prior to restarting other areas of the facility in mid-June, Ergon completed a thorough investigation of the entire plant and a review of all safeguards.

The refinery has been supplying paraffinic base oils and waxes to customers around the world since restarting. Gasoline production is still impacted by the unit to be reconstructed.

“We would like to say again how much Ergon appreciates the efforts of the local fire departments and other first responders,” Haddox added. “We are incredibly thankful as well for the response of our own employees and their commitment to the ongoing operation of this facility which is so important to the economy of Newell and the surrounding area. Our staff and our neighbors can rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to operate in the safest manner possible.”

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