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Initial report into fatal Colorado oil tank explosion says blast linked to emissions-control work

14 August 2017

The May 25 explosion in Mead, Colorado, that killed one worker and left three others seriously injured was caused by a build up of combustible products in a trench being dug between oil storage tanks at the Anadarko Petroleum site, Mountain View Fire Rescue Fire District said in a report.

Stock image
Stock image

The combustible products pooled in a trench dug by a group of contract workers who were excavating, welding and pipe cutting as part of a project to link two tank facilities at the Anadarko site, part of the company’s emissions-control programme.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is working on an investigation into the origin and cause of the explosion and subsequent fire with the help of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Those agencies have not yet released any findings.

“The investigation was done in conjunction with OSHA,” said Mountain View Assistant Chief Roger Rademacher. “Their investigation (which is ongoing) goes into greater detail.”

The fire district said in a news release that it “anticipates that OSHA may issue citations to employers for any violations of the occupational safety and health regulations it identifies in the coming months.”

Anadarko has been under scrutiny for owning a well linked to a deadly Firestone house explosion April 17. The oil tank site is about 4 miles north of the Firestone house that exploded.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper vowed after the Mead explosion to “take any necessary action to ensure this doesn’t happen again.” State oil and gas regulators asked Anadarko to perform a “root cause” analysis of the accident to determine exactly what happened and why.

An Anadarko spokeswoman said the company was committed to learning all it could from the incident to improve the safety of operations in future.


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