Big Spring Explosion Fuels Cost Concerns - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/18/08

Big Spring Explosion Fuels Cost Concerns

Fires caused by Monday morning's blast at the Alon Refinery in Big Spring were under control by Monday night.  NewsChannel 11 is continuing to follow the developments, but there is still no word on the cause of the thunderous explosion.

It happened just after 8 a.m. Monday in Big Spring.  That's about 100 miles southeast of Lubbock, and 40 miles east of Midland.

The explosion sent thick black clouds of smoke billowing hundreds of feet into the area and forced the closure of all nine Big Spring schools, Howard College, and nearby Interstate 20. Incredibly there were no fatalities, but five people were injured.

Folks felt the blast more than 100 miles away, and now the question is whether we'll see its effects on local gas signs.

Gas was hovering around $3.00 in Lubbock Monday night.  Experts say we're on a tight supply, so with the Big Spring refinery off-line, we could see prices go up.

"America is on a very tight supply of gasoline, and we've not built any brand new refineries in this county in over 30 years," Congressman Randy Neugebauer said. 

Monday morning, the supply became even tighter when an explosion at the Alon Refinery rocked Big Spring and reverberated around west Texas.

"An enormous boom," Carie Dunnam said. 

Folks in town told NewsChannel 11 the blast was unreal.

"It was just like a big percussion," Jarry Fulgham said. 

"I had never heard anything like that before, never felt anything like that," Dunnam said. 

"Just a horrible explosion, I don't know how to describe it - it's just bad," Letitia Torrez said.

Amazingly, out of Alon's approximately 170 employees, only four were injured. 

One was flown to University Medical Center in Lubbock.  At last report the patient was in satisfactory condition in the hospital's burn unit.

"It really is a miracle. The Lord has really blessed up today in Big Spring in that no one was killed," Big Spring Mayor Russ McEwen said. 

McEwen says a female motorist also suffered minor injuries when flying debris shattered her windshield.

Now, the question is how could this explosion effect the area's fuel supplies?

Alon pumps out 70,000 barrels a day, delivering products to customers from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Phoenix, Arizona. It's also a regional marketer of gas and diesel for west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

On Monday the plant stopped production, and with no word on the cause or how long it will take to get the refinery back in operation, drivers could see the effects of this explosion reach further than the plume of smoke over the Texas sky.

"Any time we have a little hiccup here in the supply chain it always has that potential to do that. Hopefully we can move those resources around and not impact the region too much," Congressman Neugebauer said. 

NewsChannel 11 will continue to track gas prices, and let you know if Monday's explosion will cost you at the pump.

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