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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

Flash fire injures 8 at Braya Renewable Fuels site in Atlantic Canada

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

An incident occurred Sept. 2 at the Braya Renewable Fuels project site in Come By Chance, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where Braya Renewable Fuels is converting a petroleum refinery to produce renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Cresta Fund Management, which in November acquired a controlling interest in the refinery formerly known as North Atlantic Refining Co., issued a statement on the evening of Sept. 2.

“Braya Renewable Fuels confirms there was an incident at the refinery late this afternoon and emergency personnel are on scene,” the company stated. “At this time, our understanding is seven (now eight) people were injured as a result of the incident, and the incident has been contained. We will do everything we can to support them and their families during this time. The authorities have been notified and we will cooperate fully with their investigation.”

On Sept. 3, Cresta noted that the incident was a flash fire.

“Braya Renewable Fuels and its leadership team are focused today on supporting those injured in a flash fire at the refinery and their families,” the company stated in its update. “The incident occurred late in the afternoon on Sept. 2, injuring eight workers at the site, and the investigation into the nature and cause of the incident is ongoing. … The incident was contained in a timely manner and is under investigation by the Occupational Health and Safety Division, who is at the refinery, and by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The health and wellness of our workers, as well as the safe operation of the refinery is the highest priority for Braya.”

Frank Almaraz, CEO of Braya Renewable Fuels, added, “There is nothing more important to us than sending people home safe at the end of the workday, and our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and their families as they continue to recover from this incident. Members of our leadership team are with those injured and their families today and our immediate focus is doing everything we can to support their well-being and recovery. We also wish to express our sincere appreciation for the first responders who attended to the workers and the health care staff who are providing excellent care for those injured.”

Jim Stump, Braya Renewable Fuels’ president of refining, said, “Our focus is on ensuring the safety and well-being of our workers at the site. We are on-site and cooperating with the investigation to ensure we learn from this incident and do everything we can to help prevent incidents like this from happening.”

A subsequent update was issued Sept. 5, in which Cresta stated that construction on the refinery-conversion project would be paused until Sept. 12.

“We stopped work in the refinery on Sept. 2, and our priority focus remains on supporting our employees and their families as we recover and learn from this incident,” Almaraz said. “We have trauma counseling and support available for anyone who needs it, and we are continuing our efforts to support the health and well-being of our workers on their road to recovery.”

A plan to safely resume construction activity is being developed while the ongoing stop-work order is in place, the company said.

“While the incident did not damage refinery equipment, the resumption of work at the refinery will be reassessed by the Occupational Health and Safety Division and Braya Renewable Fuels next week,” the company stated, adding that it is unable to comment further on the nature or cause of the incident while the investigation is underway.

Two workers have been released from the hospital as of Sept. 5.

“We are continuing to assess the safe return to work for the more than 600 workers who are currently employed during the construction phase of the project,” Stump added. “We are committed to learning from this incident to ensure we are providing a safe work environment for everyone and to help prevent something like this from happening again.”

Braya Renewable Fuels is converting the former petroleum refinery in Come By Chance, Newfoundland and Labrador, to produce up to 260 million gallons per year of renewable diesel and SAF initially, with later capacity expansions expected. The company plans biofuel production to begin on site later this year.


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