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Refinery in Metro-East still idle; gas rules eased

By Matt Sepic, KWMU / AP

St. Louis, MO – The Conoco-Phillips Wood River refinery in the Metro East will not be producing gasoline again until sometime next week. The facility lost power as a result of the storm Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Melissa Erker says electricity was restored within a few days, but she says the refinery's two dozen different units are all interdependent, and the plant cannot be restarted at a moment's notice.

"Basically, what we have to do is we'll start up one unit, and the utilities and other things that go with it to keep that unit operating," Erker said Tuesday. "Once the unit is at a point where the unit that's dependent on it can come online, we'll start that one up."

Erker could not say if the shutdown is having any effect on the cost of fuel. But the state of Illinois and the EPA Tuesday granted a temporary waiver that will let conventional gas from other refineries to be sold in the Metro-East.

The 10-day waiver is meant to help avoid fuel shortages following last week's storms. Gas stations in St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties normally have to sell fuel that evaporates less readily than regular gas. Both the state and federal agencies had to approve the waiver for the fuel requirement to be suspended.