Feds recommend more safety measures at oil sites

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has recommended a number of safety provisions to prevent accidents at oil and natural gas production sites. The chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board insists all of the 44 deaths — including nine in Oklahoma — could have been prevented by proper safety measures.
BY JAY F. MARKS jmarks@opubco.com Modified: October 28, 2011 at 7:01 am •  Published: October 28, 2011
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Forty-four young people have been killed since 1983 in explosions at oil and natural gas production sites across the country.

The chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board insists all of those deaths — including nine in Oklahoma — could have been prevented by proper safety measures.

The federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents on Thursday issued a number of safety recommendations to improve current safety and security measures at exploration and production sites.

The board's report also called on state regulators in Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi to require safer, modern tank designs to reduce the likelihood of an internal tank explosion.

“As the demand for domestic energy resources continues to grow and the number of active extraction and production sites continues to rise steadily, it is important to ensure that these sites have the appropriate safeguards to save young people's lives,” Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is considering the board's recommendations.

“Obviously, public safety is a primary concern we all share,” spokesman Matt Skinner said. “Commission staff is currently reviewing the recommendations of the board, particularly as regards specific details and this agency's jurisdiction.”

Unfenced sites

Investigators from the Chemical Safety Board came to Oklahoma last year after the explosion of an oil tank near Weleetka killed one man and injured another.

The board's report stems from its scrutiny of that explosion and two others in Texas and Mississippi between October 2009 and April 2010.

Video: No Place to Hang Out: The Danger of Oil Sites

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To see a video about the safety measures, go to www.csb.gov/videoroom/detail.aspx?VID=43

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