Neighbors near the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery can expect to see a larger than normal flame at the top of the flare stack today. This is often accompanied by a dark plume of smoke.
According to Whatcom County Fire District 17 (Sandy Point) Fire Chief Jim Petrie, the flaring is part of maintaining stable operations within the refinery.
Josh Summers, director of public affairs at Phillips 66, said in an email,
Natural gas is a vital feedstock to operate our Ferndale Refinery. Cascade Natural Gas supply to the refinery has been disrupted by the Enbridge pipeline incident in British Columbia. The refinery is adjusting operations as needed to ensure the safety of our personnel and our community until the natural gas supply can be restored. Flaring will take place, as necessary to ensure the safety of our personnel and community.
Temporary flaring, burning off product via an often visible flame at the top of a tall structure, is an industrial safety mechanism intended to dispose of product in a controlled manner in order to protect workers and the nearby community.
This story was updated 10/10/18 at 10:20am to include the response from a company official.