A new survey shows city residents in Superior are largely split over whether to remove a highly toxic chemical from Husky Energy’s oil refinery. The presence of hydrogen fluoride prompted a temporary evacuation of community members after an explosion and series of fires there last April.
The Twin Ports Action Alliance, a group advocating for the removal of hydrogen fluoride, commissioned the survey using funds from a $5,000 grant it received from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. Twin Ports Action Alliance co-founder Ginger Juel said the phone survey, which was conducted by KW Call Center Services in Superior, asked three questions of registered voters from Jan. 17 through Feb. 4 of this year.
The questions gauged support for a ban on hydrogen fluoride in the city, whether they thought elected officials were doing enough to address the chemical’s use and whether people had an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency. The survey found 590 out of 1,595 respondents or 36.9 percent supported a ban while 441 or 27.6 percent were opposed. There were 564 individuals or 35.3 percent who were undecided.
Juel said she wasn’t surprised by the survey’s findings.
There are people who are concerned. There are people who are uninformed. There are people who are uninformed and don’t care and there are others who truly believe that if Husky were to be forced to (remove) hydrogen fluoride they would leave our city," said Juel.
Superior Mayor Jim Paine noted the survey was "very unscientific," adding the results were similar to what he’s been hearing from residents. He said some people are very concerned about the chemical’s use at the refinery.
"The vast majority of people that responded are not terribly concerned with this," said Paine. "They feel that there’s not a significant safety risk and the fact is there’s just not."