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Safety honor for Marathon canceled after refinery fire

Mich. cancels event to honor safety at Detroit oil refinery where fire burned last month


A Melvindale police officer in a haz-mat mask directs traffic as a fire burns at the Marathon refinery in Detroit after an explosion April 27.


DETROIT — A state agency canceled a Wednesday event to honor the safety record of a Detroit oil refinery where a recent fire forced the temporary evacuation of some nearby homes.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration had planned to present Marathon Petroleum Corp. with an award Wednesday for an outstanding safety and health record, and issued an advisory Tuesday to promote the event.

On Wednesday morning, however, the agency said in a statement it canceled the event while the company investigated the fire.

A number of residents had to leave their homes in nearby Melvindale because of the April 27 fire. No one was injured in the blaze, which burned a tank that the company said held wastewater produced in refining processes.

The fire is being investigated, but it could be weeks before the cause is known, the Findlay-based company said.

Jamal Kheiry, a spokesman for Marathon, said the refinery has a good overall safety record.

The refinery “goes above and beyond safety requirements” set at the federal level, he said.

State Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Detroit) represents area residents and said criteria for determining health and safety awards should be reviewed.

“I think they made a mistake in giving this award. That’s probably why they canceled it,” Ms. Tlaib said. “For my residents, it’s a slap in the face when the state gives an award to a company that just had a fire that led to an explosion.”

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