A short-lived fire inside a catalytic reformer at Northern Tier Energy’s refinery in St. Paul Park forced an evacuation of employees Monday.
Refinery spokesman Paul Anderson said a “fire flash” occurred inside a unit that was removed over the weekend and was undergoing regular maintenance.
“Some employees were preparing the unit for the regeneration process and we had a small flash that lasted just a few seconds,” Anderson explained. “We followed our protocol that dictates as soon as something happens that is unplanned, we hit the evacuation alarm.”
The catalytic reformer, located near the center of the refinery, converts low octane gasoline into high octane gasoline.
There were no injuries during the brief evacuation, and the incident did not affect the operations of the refinery or have any impact on the community, Anderson said.
“We have a very rigorous, very deliberate alarm system at our refinery that we want to get to our safest mode first when a non-typical event occurs,” he said. “The situation was brought to safety and managed quite quickly.”