Two workers suffered severe burns and other injuries when a natural gas compression facility in Eastern Utah exploded on the morning of July 28.
Investigators are working to determine the cause of the blast at the compression plant, located near the town of Cisco, Utah, about 50 miles west of Grand Junction, Colorado.
Lt. Beau Edic of the Lower Valley Fire Protection District told The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel that despite their burns and other significant injuries, the men “removed themselves” from the blast site and drove to I-70, where they were evacuated to hospitals by helicopter.
One of the workers was taken by LifeFlight to the burn center at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City while the other was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, Grand Junction’s KJCT Channel 8 reported.
The compression facility where the explosion occurred collects and condenses the gas to keep it flowing through pipelines. The Grand County, Utah Sheriff’s Dept. said the blast happened at a collection facility at or near the San Arroyo Gas Plant, which provides compression for natural gas from regional pipelines, the Daily Sentinel reported.
Utility operators shut off an emergency valve in an effort to prevent the blaze from spreading beyond the immediate blast site.
According to the Daily Sentinel:
An analysis of oil and gas infrastructure conducted by the Bureau of Land Management’s Moab field office in 2005, the most recent report on the San Arroyo plant available, said pipelines there had been in place for 30 to 40 years, but that “it is likely that the equipment would need to be repaired or replaced during the next 15 years.”
It is unknown if such repairs or replacements have taken place since that report was issued.
The blaze at the blast site reportedly burned for hours. Lt. Edic told the Daily Sentinel that firefighters would have to let the flames burn down before they could begin suppressing the fire – a process he described as “lengthy” and “dangerous.”