Valero Refinery to Restart in April

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Valero Refinery to Restart in April

SAN ANTONIO -- Valero Energy Corp. scheduled early April as the restart goal for its McKee refinery, located in the Texas panhandle. The 170,000-barrel per day refinery was shut down after an explosion and fire on Feb. 16 left it damaged, the Express-News reported. The cause for the explosion has not been determined to date.

The accident injured 14 workers and the refinery was shut down shortly after. By early April, the company hopes to have a partial restart at several key units at the plant.

"If inspections continue to go well, it is anticipated that we will be able to run 85,000 barrels per day of crude and produce approximately 55,000 barrels per day of gasoline and 20,000 barrels per day of distillate (primarily diesel and jet fuel) when partial plant operations resume," Valero spokeswoman Mary Rose Brown said via email to the newspaper.

"Our top priority is to re-commission utilities and we do expect to re-commission steam this week," she added.

Valero CEO Bill Klesse and other executives toured the site last Friday and met with two workers that had been hospitalized in a Lubbock, Texas hospital burn center, along with the workers' family members. They also spoke with the refinery's employees and contractors to discuss start-up plans, the report stated.

The company's emergency response team narrowed restricted "exclusion zones" -- where no one can enter these zones until the machinery, structures and equipment in the areas are considered structurally safe -- to three small sections where the fire occurred.

Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and a team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, were able to investigate within 20 feet of the area where the accident happened, according to Brown.