SomerSet plans safe despite refinery explosion, Regina mayor says

Regina's mayor says it's safe to carry on with plans for a new subdivision near the city's Co-op refinery despite the recent explosion at the complex.

Regina's mayor says it's safe to carry on with plans for a new subdivision near the city's Co-op refinery despite the recent explosion at the complex. 

The noise from the blast, which went off at about 3:30 p.m. CST Dec. 24, could be heard throughout the city. It's the fourth incident in the past two years at the refinery. 

No one was hurt in this explosion. A previous explosion in 2011 left 36 workers injured. 

Some people have expressed concerns about the SomerSet development, which deals with a 57-hectare patch of land between the steel plant and an oil refinery. The neighbourhood is slated to become home to 3,100 people. 

The project has also faced opposition from the province's Ministry of Environment, the Evraz steel plant (which is northwest of the land) and Co-op refinery (which is southeast).

Critics say there should not be a residential homes so close to heavy industrial activity, and all agree there should at least be warnings placed on houses to inform people about the risks. 

According to details in the concept plan, SomerSet will be primarily a residential area that could potentially have other commercial and industrial developments. 

Regina mayor Michael Fougere says the area is safe, despite its proximity to the refinery. 

"There already is development even closer to the refinery," said Fougere. "Uplands is closer to the refinery than SomerSet would be. So, it's been approved by the province and the city, and it is a safe development, and until we hear otherwise, it will proceed."

Fougere did acknowledge there are some risks at the refinery. 

"When you have an industrial complex next to the city, there are risks involved, inherent risks involved. The idea is to mitigate or remove those risks, and that is what the refinery is trying to do," said Fougere. 

The Regina Fire Department has started its investigation into what caused an explosion at the refinery.

As of a release on Dec. 27, investigators have not been cleared to visit the actual site of the explosion due to safety concerns. The probe away from the site includes interviewing employees, and gathering and reviewing videos, documents, and engineer drawings of the area near the fuel processing tank that exploded. 


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