Environmental

Explosion in BP Colorado natural gas facility kills one, severely injures two

BP 435x292 Explosion in BP Colorado natural gas facility kills one, severely injures twoAn explosion at a BP gas compression station near Durango, Colorado, Monday morning killed one worker and seriously injured two others.

According to the Durango Herald, the compression station extracts natural gas from wells and sends it through a pipeline to storage. The Pinon plant where the explosion occurred processes about 30 million cubic feet of gas daily and is the largest such facility in Colorado’s La Plata County. It is located along U.S. Highway 160 east of Durango on federally owned land between Elmore’s Corner and Bayfield.

According to the Durango Herald, the explosion occurred at 8:15 a.m. MST during a routine maintenance procedure in which data is collected by a device that is sent through the system. A spokesman for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Department told the Durango Herald that the blast was caused by the failure of a pressurized device and was not a flammable explosion.

On Tuesday, BP appeared to be trying to quell the media’s interest in the deadly blast. According to the Durango Herald, BP spokeswoman Julie Levy told the press that “The incident is essentially over.”

“Everybody has been accounted for, and there is nothing ongoing about this incident,” Levy said. Investigation of the incident by BP officials and federal and state authorities, however, was still ongoing. “We’re still investigating the exact nature of the incident,” Levy said.

The names of the victims have not been released. According to BP, 11 workers were onsite when the explosion occurred. The worker who was killed was a contract worker, according to BP.

BP’s Colorado explosion is latest event in a series of incidents involving the safety of its workers and the environment. In 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and unleashing the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. In 2006, a BP pipeline in Alaska’s remote Prudhoe Bay leaked more than 5,000 barrels of oil onto the icy tundra, creating the worst spill ever to occur on the heavily drilled North Slope. The oil in that spill poured out of a hole in the pipeline caused by corrosion.

Another BP pipeline froze and burst in 2009, spilling about 13,500 gallons of oil onto Alaska’s Lisburne oil field– an incident federal prosecutors described as “predictable and absolutely preventable.” In 2005, an explosion ripped through BP’s Texas City refinery, killing 15 workers. In 2001, BP pleaded guilty to releasing hazardous materials at its Endicott facility on Alaska’s North Slope, a crime that earned it a mere $500,000 fine and a five-year probation. Other international incidents involving BP facilities have reportedly jeopardized the safety of its workers and the environment.

According to Reuters, BP operates about 1,500 wells in Colorado and lists itself as the state’s top natural gas producer. Most of the wells are “unconventional” because they employ “new techniques to extract oil or gas from harder-to-reach formation like shale,” according to Reuters.

Investigators said the Colorado wildfires did not play a role in the explosion.

Sources:

The Durango Herald
Reuters