Authorities are investigating a flash fire that erupted this week as three subcontractors were cleaning out a production water tank at an Oxy USA drilling operation in Colorado.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into how two employees were injured, one critically, in the blast at a well on property owned by Oxy (Occidental Petroleum Corp.), the nation’s fourth-largest oil and gas company. The third worker apparently escaped injury.
|Oxy USA, a division of Occidental Petroleum Corp., has more than 7 million acres of oil and gas assets in the United States.|
Initial reports indicated that one man was critically injured with severe head injuries and facial trauma. The other man was less severely injured. Both men reportedly suffered burns to their hands.
Condensate Tank Blast
The men work for Wolverine Enterprises Ltd., a Canadian company that provides a variety of services for oilfields, drilling rigs and construction sites.
The workers were cleaning out a production water tank about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday when the fire broke out, according to a statement from Oxy USA. The men were taken to St. Mary’s Hospital. Neither their names nor their conditions were released.
Wolverine has declined to comment in the case, but emergency scanner traffic indicated that the men were on a ladder when a condensate tank exploded at a natural gas injection well, the local Daily Sentinel reported. Early reports said chemicals may have ignited.
Area residents said they heard the explosion a mile away.
“Safety is Oxy’s primary concern,” company spokesman Eric Moses said in a statement. “We are committed to protecting the safety, security and health of our workers and neighboring communities and safeguarding the environment.
“We will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the incident and take appropriate measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. Oxy has notified the appropriate government authorities, and we will continue to cooperate fully with them.”