Dust Cloud, Heater Cause Blast

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 @ 03:01 PM gHale

A dust cloud and a kerosene heater came in contact with each other and led to an explosion that injured four workers Thursday at an Edmond, OK, manufacturer, officials said.

One of the machines at NOV Tuboscope became clogged and maintenance workers were attempting to clear the obstruction shortly before 9 a.m., said Edmond Fire Maj. Kelly Lewis.

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A pipe became disconnected and a polymer, a type of powdery substance, released, creating a dust cloud, Lewis said. The cloud reached an industrial space heater that runs on kerosene and had an open flame, he said.

Four employees suffered burns from the fire caused by the explosion, Lewis said. One ended up released from the Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, he said. Two others with less severe burns are in the hospital’s Paul Silverstein Burn Center. One worker with more severe burns is in the intensive care unit, Lewis said.

The entire facility in Edmond, which has 23 employees, remains shut down pending the outcome of the company’s own investigation, said Becky Byrd, a spokeswoman for the parent company, Houston-based National Oilwell Varco. The site coats pipe with corrosion prevention material, she said.

In addition to doing its own investigation, National Oilwell Varco hired a nurse to be at the Integris Baptist Medical Center to see to the needs of the employees as long as they are there, Byrd said.

National Oilwell Varco provides major mechanical components for land and offshore drilling rigs, complete land drilling and well servicing rigs, tubular inspection and internal tubular coatings, drill string equipment, extensive lifting and handling equipment, and downhole drilling motors, bits and tools, according to information posted on its website.

It also provides supply chain services through its network of distribution service centers located near major drilling and production activity worldwide.

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