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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Fire, Possible Explosion at Staten Island Refinery

Aired February 21, 2003 - 10:38   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have another eyewitness with us on the phone right now. George Misdom, as I understand, is in the area there.
George, are you with us?

GEORGE MISDOM, WITNESS: Yes, I am.

KAGAN: George, how close are you to this fire?

MISDOM: About two miles away.

KAGAN: And did you feel the explosion a half hour ago?

MISDOM: Yes, I did.

KAGAN: What was that like?

MISDOM: It shook the whole house.

KAGAN: What were you thinking?

MISDOM: Just being surrounded by refineries, another explosion, happens like in the past.

KAGAN: So something like this happened in the past?

MISDOM: Yes, explosions have happened in the past. But from seeing your camera view on CNN, I could tell you it looks like it's down at the loading docks.

KAGAN: The loading docks that lead to the refinery?

MISDOM: The loading docks that lead to the ships, the tankers and barges that pull in.

KAGAN: What do you know about this facility?

MISDOM: This facility at one time was Royal Oil. I think they since changed their name to Monterey. Different oil companies come in and fill up their tankers here, and different oil tankers deliver and pick up as well as barges.

KAGAN: And this facility's been there for years, I imagine?

MISDOM: Yes, it's been there for years.

Right adjacent to that is a recreation area that older folks and younger folks, of course, do go and sit and spend the day there.

KAGAN: Like a park?

MISDOM: Yes, like a park, yes most definitely. And from your Staten Island view, I could see that there was booms around the fire, so it makes me believe that there's barges or a tanker in that vicinity, right in that immediate area where the fire is.

KAGAN: So you're on Staten Island?

MISDOM: No. I'm on the Jersey side.

KAGAN: You're on the Jersey side.

Give us a perspective of how narrow that channel is there in New York harbor from Staten Island to New Jersey.

MISDOM: It's one of the major waterways. It's (ph) a Port Elizabeth.

KAGAN: But that's close from shore to shore, isn't it, from Staten Island over to the New Jersey side?

MISDOM: Yes, it is.

KAGAN: And what does it look like outside your window right now? Is the sky getting kind of black?

MISDOM: The sky is just filled with black smoke.

KAGAN: And can you smell it?

MISDOM: It's filled with smoke.

KAGAN: I'm sorry, George, go ahead.

MISDOM: It's Just filled with smoke.

KAGAN: But can you smell it.

MISDOM: I haven't been outside to smell it. I'm just watching the news.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: I want to keep George on the line, because I've been reading the wires and the Reuters News Service is reporting this is the Arthur Kill Waterway?

MISDOM: Yes, Arthur Kill Waterway, yes.

HARRIS: You can confirm that for us then?

MISDOM: Yes I can.

HARRIS: And what we're also seeing on the wire services is that this was a propane tanker that exploded. Do you know if this facility handles only propane, or if it handles oil as well as propane? MISDOM: It handles propane, oil, asphalt, all along that area.

HARRIS: And in that area, what other kind of facilities are there?

MISDOM: Railroad companies, Chevron's there.

HARRIS: Do you know whether they're all nearby? Are they all close to one another?

MISDOM: They're all adjacent to one another.

HARRIS: They're all adjacent to one another. It's looks like there's a wooded area there as well. So I assume there are no homes at all.

MISDOM: Not far away. Not far away at all. A quarter of a mile.

HARRIS: How far away?

MISDOM: Within a quarter of a mile.

KAGAN: More inland?

MISDOM: Inland, yes.

The extreme right of your picture right now on TV, I would presume there are homes there, if I correctly identified this location.

KAGAN: All right, we understand. Thank you, George.

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