Oil refinery explosion leaves resident upset over damaged car
Bountiful • On a Monday morning, Bountiful resident LoEne Lookebill walks out to her seemingly clean 2006 Chevy TrailBlazer and peels back the weather stripping on the inside door panel to reveal crude oil remnants from more than two months ago.
Lookebill's SUV was one of hundreds of vehicles coated with a black spotted film of oil Aug. 30 when the HollyFrontier Corp. oil tank erupted at the seam and sprayed an estimated 8,400 gallons of crude oil that turned into a smeared mess on Interstate-15, homes, businesses and cars in Woods Cross, West Bountiful and Bountiful. The refinery sits at 393 S. 800 West in Woods Cross.
Since that time Holly Oil has worked with more than 430 people individually and gave out about 600 car wash vouchers. They have about 25 issues still pending, but Lookebill isn't one of those 25. The company said its case with her is closed, but she disagrees.
"My car is not fixed, it is not clean," Lookebill said as she stood next to her car. "It is not the way it was when I left it that day."
Lookebill, a single mother, was working on a glass etching project that night in her storage unit about 100 yards from the oil tank. The oil got on her, her car and inside the storage unit containing family heirlooms and other storage.
Since the oil spray, she says Holly Oil has reimbursed her to take the car to numerous car washes to clean it, and when that didn't work, she got a rental car and had it detailed, and then had an autobody shop work on it but still the oil remained.
"The first time it rained, I had oil streaks all over my car," she said adding that most of the oil is now absorbed into the trim and weather stripping around the doors and undercarriage of the car. Every time the car gets warm and it rains, the oil seeps back out.
Mike Astin, environmental manager with HollyFrontier Corp., said if it rains the oil won't bleed out because the oil is too heavy. He also said regarding Lookebill's case, "That issue is closed."
Astin said Lookebill signed paperwork, but Lookebill said, "If that would have been closing out the deal on my car, there is no way I would have accepted that offer at all." She added the company knew her car was still an issue.
"It happened, and we made a mess, and we are trying to take care of it the best we can," Astin said.
He said the company has tried to make every effort they can to reasonably fix the problem, but he realizes not everyone will be happy.
"A few of the folks aren't going to be satisfied no matter what we do," Astin said.
Lookebill said Holly Oil offered her two options after none of the car washes satisfied her. One option was to pay high blue book value for her car of $9,600 (she still owes $15,000), pay for business decals, give her $500 for her valuables damaged in her storage unit and $3,000 for her loss of wages having to leave work around the company's schedule to have work done on the car. It cost her time from her job at the U.S. Postal Service and her side job working for Slumber Parties, where she sells romance enhancement products. Her other option instead of selling the car was $500 in car wash vouchers to keep cleaning until the oil went away. She refused either option because one leaves her without a car and money left to pay on a loan and the other leaves her a car that her auto insurance said they want to total because it is seen as a health liability because of the oil on it.
"All I want is for them to take care of it," Lookebill said. "I don't think they really care as long as they can get off doing the least possible they have to."
She realizes some people may think she is being picky, but she stands firm in saying her car isn't completely fixed and the oil that was on her hands and feet caused a burning sensation (a complaint that several other residents also have told The Tribune) that didn't go away until just recently. She is in the process of seeking legal action against Holly Oil.
The roughly two dozen involved in pending resolution mostly involve "larger, more complicated impacts" Astin said, such as oil splatter on business buildings with brick or stucco walls that can't be cleaned off. Holly Oil maintains the crude oil is not a health hazard.