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Reader's View: Duluth leaders silent on refinery fire

Weeks have passed since explosions from the Husky refinery in Superior shook the Twin Ports. Despite the thick plume of black smoke visible across the harbor, the shelter-in-place warning issued for Duluth that evening, and the knowledge that the hydrogen fluoride housed at the facility could kill or harm the more than 130,000 residents in the Twin Ports, Duluth's City Council and mayor have had little to say on the subject. All I heard were a few brief statements from Mayor Emily Larson.

The Twin Ports are unique in that this bi-state coalition of cities works together to provide each other with economic, cultural, and infrastructural support. Through this symbiotic relationship, we share in each other's victories and in each other's tragedies. As Mayor Larson herself said, "When something significant happens on one side of the bridge, we feel it on the other."

Thus far, communications from Husky Energy have made it clear that the hydrogen fluoride is not going anywhere. This is despite the fact there are existing processes that are proven to be far safer, such as ionic liquid processing. The company stays with hydrogen fluoride because it is cheaper to continue on with business as usual. A company with headquarters in Canada and primary investors in Hong Kong has little vested interest in our community's safety.

While Duluth's leadership sits silent, a ticking time bomb sits across the harbor from our families. Next time will the wind be blowing south again — or will it being blowing north? And will it be Duluthians who have to evacuate their homes? More importantly, will the thick, carcinogenic smoke be accompanied by a lethal plume of hydrogen fluoride?

Husky Energy is not a good neighbor. I call on Duluth leadership to force Husky into becoming one.

Kevin Swanberg

Duluth

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