Cleaning Up at the Alon-USA Refinery

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

BIG SPRING - The work is on to repair the Alon-USA Refinery after Monday's massive explosion left significant damage to parts of the plant.

Officials with Alon said 500 to 1000 people could be working in Big Spring within the next 2 months or longer. They said they don't know exactly how long it will take to clean-up all the debris, and then rebuild all the parts that were damaged. But Alon officials said they have a plan in place, and are doing the best they can.

"We've moved our offices over here, the Union Hall across the street. I appreciate them letting us use their facility until we get our buildings up on the property repaired, and can get back in them," said Jeff Morris, the President and CEO of Alon.

It's back to work for hundreds of employees and clean-up crews at the Alon refinery. And while not all of the facility was part of what started Monday's explosion, the plant could be shut down for a month until all parts are checked and fully repaired.

"We have more than enough work for everybody, and so everybody's reporting to work, we're going to be working long shifts, and working hard, and getting this place rebuilt," explained Morris. "We need everybody that works for us, plus a lot of other people."

Alon usually provides about 70,000 barrels of oil a day, and while the shut down might be a factor in Tuesday's global increase in oil prices, many West Texas companies are worried about the lack of other products like asphalt, also created at the refinery.

"The consequence of no availability of asphalt in Big Spring for us is that the next closest source is going to be Corpus Christi. So the increase rate from Corpus Christi back to Big Spring into the highway projects we have with the Texas Department of Public Transportation in the area is going to be a big expense for us," said Bob Price, with Price Construction Ltd.

But Alon officials said Tuesday they are working to still get fuel and other products to the area.

"They will be able to get their fuel in Midland, Odessa, Abilene, Wichita Falls, they have in the past. So, it's our expectation to serve our customers needs, and get this thing running again," said Morris.

In addition, Alon officials said they have hired contractors from Houston to come help survey the damage. They said they were taking a closer look at all of the damage to get a better idea of how it started, to make sure an explosion doesn't happen again.