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UPDATED: Refinery flaring event rattles neighbors’ windows, cupboards

Flaring event at the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery (June 6, 2023). Photo: Whatcom News

FERNDALE, Wash. — Neighbors in Neptune Beach, Sandy Point and Sandy Point Heights began reporting a noise about 6pm, Tuesday, June 6th, that was described as sounding similar to a jet engine.

According to reader reports, the noise was ultimately traced to a flare tower at the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery with an unusually tall flame and a dark plume of smoke visible from Bellingham. Neighbors who said they were familiar with flare events said the noise from this event was much louder than any they could recall.

An official with the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery sent Whatcom News the following via email in response to a request for details regarding what led to the flaring event.

Yesterday, at approximately 5:30 p.m. the refinery experienced an issue at one of our operating units. All crews responded immediately to mitigate the situation. As a result, we utilized the flare system which is a safety device designed to burn excess gas in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. During the incident, some community members were able to see the flare. Lisa J. Lindsey, Phillips 66 Government and Community Relations Director

Reports from readers about the noise remaining unusually loud continued past 8pm. Reports were that the noise subsided after 10:30pm.

Flares are important safety devices used in refineries and petrochemical facilities. They safely burn excess hydrocarbon gases which cannot be recovered or recycled.

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