A storage facility owned by Vess Oil Corporation burst into flames earlier this week, summoning emergency responders to put out the sudden blaze. There were reports of flames reaching as high as 50 feet in the air and visible from three to four miles from the explosion site.
Workers from Vess Oil were sent to close off several valves that could have provided additional fuel to the fire. Several storage tanks and vessels were destroyed in the fire as well as at least one pump jack. No injuries were reported from the blaze.
Investigators were still working to determine how the fire ignited, causing the late night Smith County explosion.
Although the oil and gas industry presents many varied dangers to workers, owners and operators must still make every effort to ensure the safety of those working on the oil rigs, in the shale plays or in exploration. This includes providing appropriate training in workplace safety and emergency response.
When an unexpected blast occurs – like the Vess Oil Company explosion – workers must know how to react – what steps must be taken to control the emergency, such as locating and activating shut-off valves, who to call and where to evacuate if needed so that everyone can be properly accounted for. There are strict Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules as well as local and state rules that apply to workplace safety on the oil and gas fields.
Proper maintenance is also a key point in maintaining the safety and integrity of an oil and gas site. Rigs should be inspected, pipelines must be maintained and various other equipment must be kept in safe, working order. If you were injured while on an oil rig, gas field or other exploration, drilling, pump or storage site, you may have a legal claim against your employer and/or the owner of the site; you should talk to an oil and gas attorney about your rights.
Source: Huffington Post Business, “Texas Explosion, Fire Reported At Oil Storage Facility,” October 15, 2013