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Delek's neighbors talk about living next to refinery; more details on safety history

Published: Nov. 21, 2008 at 10:17 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2008 at 11:41 PM CST
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Yesterday's explosion at Delek Refining rattled dozens of nearby homes, something nearby residents say was just waiting to happen. KLTV 7's Layron Livingston has been investigating all day long. He dug up some new details concerning Delek Refining's safety record, and how what happens there has neighbors concerned.

The sounds of the neighborhood were even louder yesterday afternoon.

"I knew it was La Gloria because I hear the little booms all the time," said Marie Gipson.

And the smells.

"We first moved here....we got a smell," said Charlene Hogue.

"The wind comes gets out of the east and a lot of times you can't even eat your breakfast, or eat lunch on account of that stink," said Ray Hubbard.

Ray Hubbard says the refinery was there before his family moved in in 1948. The view outside is all too familiar.

"You've always got smoke going on...that old thick black smoke," said Ray.

Just shy of a year ago, the Environmental Integrity Project listed Delek Refining in Tyler as one of the nation's ten most polluting refineries. Neighbors say there are problems on the ground, too.

"The trucks and the this and the that," said Dorothy Clark.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the refinery in February.

The company was fined more than $68,000 dollars mostly for safety management and hazardous materials. Last year, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality penalized the company more than a quarter million dollars.

TCEQ now classifies Delek Refining as average, based upon the company's compliance history.

"Once you've been here so long, you get used to it," said Dorothy Clark.

Back in 2005, the company resolved an enforcement order with TCEQ. It was ordered to pay more than $120,000 for a violations to the state health and safety code, still La Gloria at the time.

The order also notes several repairs were made before the fine the was paid.

Charlene Hogue moved in in 1961.

"We've enjoyed living here," said Hogue.

But for her and her neighbors, it's taken some getting used to.

There is one pending action referred to TCEQ just last month. The violation stems from the refinery emitting too much carbon monoxide. There was also a problem controlling reduced sulfur compounds. Enforcement documents have been drafted and a fine amount will be determined.

Layron Livingston, reporting. llivingston@kltv.com