CO Tank Death Raises Safety Issues

Thursday, June 1, 2017 @ 05:06 PM gHale

An oil tank explosion in northern Colorado killed a worker and burned three others last Thursday, when flames shot up just miles away from an unrelated gas blast last month and prompting fresh questions about safety in the oil and gas industry in the state.

The fire flared Thursday when the workers completed upgrades to an oil tank battery, which is a collection of tanks that receive crude oil production from a well.

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Emergency crews were dispatched to the Anadarko Petroleum Corp. plant outside the town of Mead and found the site in flames, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office said.

Two workers were taken to a local hospital for burns while a third worker was taken to a separate hospital for undisclosed injuries, the sheriff said.

Firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and Anadarko crews combed through the site and found a fourth worker who was “declared dead at the scene,” police said.

Anadarko said the facility was not in service and the fire was under investigation.

The company also owns a well connected to a home explosion that killed two people in Firestone, a city a few miles from Mead. The April 17 blast was traced to a leaky well.

Anadarko said it will permanently shut down the Firestone well and two others in the neighborhood. The pipeline was thought to be out of service, but investigators said it was still connected to a well near the home.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former petroleum geologist, said Friday the two explosions apparently were not related. State agencies and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were investigating the latest blast, he said.

“We will continue to work closely with investigating agencies and the industry to better understand the cause of this accident and take any necessary action to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” Hickenlooper said.

The Sierra Club called for Anadarko to shutter all of its operations while state and federal authorities conduct a comprehensive review. The company did not respond.

There were no injuries from the storage-tank leak.

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