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OSHA fines Anadarko and three other companies for fatal Colorado tank blast

29 January 2018

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Energes Services LLC, Dominguez Welding LLC and Unlimited Services LLC face $70,711 in proposed penalties after the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) judged that they had exposed employees to health and safety hazards in the fatal explosion of a storage tank in May 2017 in Mead, Colorado. 

One employee was killed and three others suffered third-degree burns in the May 25, 2017 incident. OSHA said the workers were merging two storage tank batteries into a single tank that was operated by Anadarko when the explosion and fire occurred.

OSHA inspectors said the companies were cited for introducing potential ignition sources into work areas containing flammable gases or vapours; not isolating flammable gases or vapours from welding activity; and not adequately inspecting the worksite and addressing safety hazards.

“Oil and gas industry employers must take proper precautions for hot work in the presence of flammable hydrocarbon vapours,” said Denver-based OSHA Area Director Herb Gibson, in the statement.

“OSHA and the industry have issued guidance for employers on the hazards of flammable materials and appropriate protective measures,” Gibson.

Anadarko spokeswoman Jennifer Brice said in a statement that the company, one of Colorado’s largest oil and gas companies, appreciates “OSHA’s comprehensive review of this tragic accident, and we take the findings very seriously.”

“Since the accident, we have been reviewing our processes and procedures as part our commitment for continual improvement around safety and will continue to work with OSHA on any additional steps it may recommend,” Brice said.

The accident in Mead occurred weeks after a home in Firestone exploded due to a buildup of raw natural gas that leaked into the structure from an old well owned by Anadarko.

Two men were killed in that accident and a woman was severely injured.


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