Watch this exclusive footage sent from an eye witness to the Ramsey Gas Plant explosion in Reeves County TX, December 3, 2015. The explosion injured two workers. An early evacuation of the plant saved countless lives.
The cause of the explosion was not expected to be released before the OSHA Investigation was concluded, a process taking up to 6 months. (OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation). A witness working at the site on December 3 revealed that the accident was most likely caused “after a valve became frozen and a diesel burner was used in an attempt to unthaw it”. This process is known in industry as Hot Z.
Attempts were made to hold the initial fire. As they failed an order was given to evacuate the site. In less than 5 minutes fleeing workers captured the resulting explosion. Most of the plant was immersed in flames in an instant. The number of workers, evacuated with only seconds to spare, was 250.
Following the explosion, a 10-mile exclusion zone was set up around the spot. Roads from New Mexico into Texas were closed. All workers were taken to a civic centre in Carlsbad by bus.
Further disaster was hardly avoided when, in the initial blast, the slug Catcher was blown 150 yards narrowly missing huge Natural Gas Liquid (NGL) storage tanks. Workers who returned to the spot to help fence of the blast area reported seeing thick bore 36″ pipes twisted like straws.
The official spokesperson with OSHA, Juan Rodriguez, confirmed the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA was investigating the accident at Ramsey Natural Gas Processing Plant. In an email, Rodriguez said that though it was difficult to say how long the investigation might last, OSHA by law had 6 months to complete it. He added that if OSHA found violations, then it could issue citations and those citations accompanied a monetary penalty.
According to OSHA fact sheet, ahead of conducting an inspection, compliance officers researched the inspection history of a work site and gathered appropriate protective equipment and testing instruments for measuring potential hazards.
Midland TV station KWES NewsWest 9 revealed that several recent safety violations had been discovered during planned inspection by OSHA, which resulted in 5 violations.
The company was also cited for issues related to the way they handled hazardous chemicals.