Alon USA Refinery Restored in Big Spring

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Almost 2,000 workers from all over the U.S. are packing up and heading out of Big Spring. 

The Alon Refinery is running at full capacity again. 

They've been there since February working to restore the refinery.

Just 7 months ago, smoke billowed out of the Alon Refinery in Big Spring destroying half of their productivity and 25 percent of the physical operation.

"Compared to other refinery accidents in the U.S. it was one of the top accidents that's ever occured," Alon USA Vice President, Dave Foster, said.

But as of this past weekend, it's been restored.

"The whole process has been hard," Foster said. "There have been no easy days since February 18th."

We wanted a look inside, so Vice President Dave Foster took us on a tour.

"All this you're going to see to our left, or out front, all that was either completely destroyed or had to be taken back down," Foster said.

1,800 contractors came from all over the U.S. - that's nine times the normal amount of refinery employees. And they spent over three million work hours, so far, costing $265 million.

"This entire pipe rack from top to bottom was either destroyed or severly damaged," Foster said. "So we replaced about 35 miles of piping in this project, we put in about 2 1/2 million pounds of steel, we brought in over 900 trucks of concrete, 1 million plus feet of electrical cable, in order to get this thing back up to where it is today."

What started the explosion is still a mystery.

"We're still working through the final forensic evidence to make sure we have the cause pinpointed," Foster said. "We're not going to start that section of the plant up again until we know 100 percent sure what happened and what it's going to take for preventing it from ever happening again."

And now their main concern is making sure those 1,800 workers did the job right.

"The hardest part is making sure you have every 'I' dotted and every 't' crossed making sure everything is going to be 100 percent safe," Foster said.

At this point, about 700 workers are still at the refinery finishing up testing. They hope to have it completed by the end of the month.