LA Pipeline Blast Kills 3, Injures 2

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 @ 01:10 PM gHale

Three workers died and two people are in serious condition following an explosion last Thursday at a natural gas pipeline in Gibson, Louisiana, state police said.

The blast occurred at 11 a.m. at a pipeline at Williams Partners’ natural gas facility. Williams Partners’ subsidiary Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. owns the facility.

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Williams said the facility was not operational at the time of the incident and gas was not flowing through the pipeline system when the blast occurred.

The 13 Williams employees stationed at the facility are safe and did not suffer any injuries, Williams said. However, 5 of the 19 contractors working at the site were victims in the blast, state police said.

“We are deeply saddened by reports of serious injuries to personnel working at the scene. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this very critical time,” said Warren Toups, Williams operations manager.

The company said its top priority is ensuring the safety of its employees and contractors.

Company officials’ initial assessment of the incident determined it didn’t appear the cause of the explosion was a rupture in the pipeline.

The building containing the compressor engines did not suffer any damage, the company said.

Williams said it will work with the appropriate regulatory agencies to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident.

Williams also owned a plant in Gesimar, Louisiana, that experienced an explosion in June 2013. One person died in that blast.

As a result of the incident, the company faced a series of violations, ranging from willful to serious, and initially faced a fine of $99,000. The penalty later reduced down to $36,000, according Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) officials.