For weeks we’ve been told part of the reason for skyrocketing NW gas prices is due to the shutdown of the refinery at Cherry Point in Whatcom County.

A February fire forced a complete shutdown of the plant, which is operated by BP, and the result was a spike in gas prices.  The EPA said no enviornmental contamination occured from the blaze, and no one was hurt, but the effects were felt all up and down the West Coast.   Reuters news services reported that as of Wednesday, the refinery was back up and running at full capacity.

Critics say it’s troubling that the US has so few refineries that an interruption or shutdown of even one plant can have effects on fuel prices regionally, even nationally.   Cherry Point supplies, according to BP, 20 percent of the gas for Washington and Oregon, and is the largest supplier of jet fuel to the US military.  Even with the refinery running at 50 thousand plus barrels a day, it may take several weeks for the supply to catch up to the demand, and prices to dip.