Safety Inquiry Finds Tank Blast Cause

Monday, April 13, 2015 @ 02:04 PM gHale

An oil tank explosion near Killdeer, ND, last month felt from miles away was the result of an equipment malfunction, Marathon Oil found in its investigation.

An in-line flame arrestor failed and allowed the flare flame to get into the tanks, Marathon spokesman Zac Weis said. The company wrapped up its investigation on the March 7 incident this week.

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“Essentially, that failed and allowed the flame to backflow into the tank,” he said.

The three oil tanks exploded just before 9 a.m. that Saturday and burned throughout the day. The explosion blew the tops off the tanks, Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew previously said.

The site is about five miles north of Killdeer.

According to the North Dakota Industrial Commission follow up report, 244 barrels of oil and 45 barrels of saltwater spilled. The oil burned off, said Alison Ritter, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. According to the department’s report, all of the saltwater ended up recovered.

Weis said Marathon will make sure to thoroughly check the arrestors during inspections.

“What we’re going to see is proper maintenance on all those in the future and proper inspections and routine inspections looking for that specific malfunction,” he said.

Ritter said while she hadn’t heard of this piece of equipment failing before, malfunctions in general are common causes of incidents like this one.

“What it boils down to is just a malfunctioning piece of equipment,” Ritter said.

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