One worker has died and three others were seriously injured after an explosion ripped through a storage tank Wednesday at a natural gas production facility operated by fracking giant EOG Resources Inc. in southwestern Wyoming.
The worker who was killed was contracted to clean natural gas storage tanks at the EOG site south of LaBarge, Wyo., alongside another contract worker and two EOG employees. A company representative told Reuters that the site contained one natural gas well and two gas storage tanks.
“The tank stores natural gas, and was undergoing cleaning when the explosion occurred,” the Lincoln County Homeland Security & Emergency Management said in a statement.
An EOG representative told Reuters that the incident was more like a flash fire. She added that the fire was extinguished and the well closed off. Investigating authorities don’t know what triggered the deadly blast, but an investigation remains underway.
The injured workers were rushed to regional hospitals for treatment. The deceased worker survived the blast initially, but later died at the University of Utah Hospital’s Burn Center in Salt Lake City.
Natural gas fracking is one of the most controversial forms of fuel extraction in North America. Because it involves highly flammable natural gas and hundreds of toxic chemicals that are injected into the bedrock, it is also one of the dirtiest and most dangerous.
According to Reuters, a Williams Companies Inc. natural gas processing plant in Opal, Wyo., about 40 miles south of La Barge, was rocked by an explosion in April, prompting a nearby town to be evacuated. The incident was just one of several fracking-related disasters to occur across the country this year. Natural gas well blasts, oil train explosions, and permanently contaminated bedrock and groundwater are other ways the industry has taken its toll on workers, their communities and the wider environment.
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