Last week, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) published a new study regarding explosions at oil and gas production facilities across the country. The report identified 26 incidents since 1983 that killed 44 members of the public and injured 25 others under the age of 25. It is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory agencies to require improvements in the safety and security measures in place at these sites.
The CSB found that children and young adults in rural areas often visit these sites to socialize, and are unaware of the explosion hazards from storage tanks that contain flammable materials like crude oil and natural gas condensate. When an ignition source such as a match, lighter, or cigarette is introduced it can trigger an internal tank explosion under certain conditions, launching the tank into the air and killing or injuring people nearby.
The report recommends requiring inherently safer tank designs that would reduce the likelihood of an internal explosion when an ignition source is introduced nearby. It also recommends requiring several physical security improvements at these locations such as warning signs, fencing, locked gates, and locks on tank hatches.