Freedom, PA Refinery Explosion, Aug 1984


Freedom, Pa. (UPI) -- Two men died and another was critically injured in an explosion and fire that ripped through the Ashland Petroleum Co. refinery along the Ohio River.
The three victims were moving an empty oil holding tank from one side of the plant to another at about 12:15 p.m. Tuesday when something apparently set off an explosion in an adjacent tank, company spokesman Jim Butler said.
"The tank (that exploded) had been used previously for storage of petroleum products," Butler said. "It was not in active use but it may have contained some kind of residues."
Butler said the exact cause of the explosion was under investigation.
The plant, located 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, is the nation's oldest refinery and has been operating for 105 years, said company spokesman Dan Lacy.
At least six explosions in the past 30 years have occurred at the plant which is operated by Ashland Petroleum, a subsidiary of Ashland, Ky.
based Ashland Oil Inc., but Tuesday's blast marked the first time anyone was fataly injured.
WILLIAM ROECK, 60, of Freedom, a 35-year employee of the company, and CHARLES HANSEN, 30, of Rochester, who worked for Ashland for five years, died in the explosion, Butler said.
WILLIAM CASBOURNE, 42, of Beaver, who has been with the company for almost 18 years, suffered second and third degree burns over 90 percent of his body.
He was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he was listed in critical condition.

Valley Independent Monessen Pennsylvania 1984-08-22