Blast at Wyo. oil production site kills 3 workers

August 30, 2011 3:23:12 AM PDT
An explosion has killed three workers who had been laying a fuel line at a Wyoming oil storage site, an oil company spokesman said.

The blast at about 10 a.m. Monday near Glenrock in a remote region of eastern Wyoming sparked a 10-acre fire before it was brought under control, Samson Resources Company spokesman Dennis Neill said. The fuel line where the blast victims had been working was intended to supply a heater treatment facility that separates oil from water as they're pumped out of the ground.

The workers were employed by a contractor that the Tulsa, Okla.-based Samson had been hired to bring an oil well back into production at the site, Neill said. The well wasn't involved in the explosion and fire, which happened on the Hornbuckle Ranch, about 50 miles northeast of Casper.

Neil declined to name the company that employed the workers. Samson officials were traveling to the area, and state and federal investigators were on the scene, he said.

Neill said local and federal authorities are investigating the explosion, with the cause still unknown late Monday. Authorities have not named the three workers.

"Obviously we're very concerned about the family and friends in this situation," Neill said.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services reported last week that the number of occupational fatalities in the state rose to 34 last year -- an increase of nearly 79 percent from the year before. Of those 34 workplace deaths, 10 were in natural resources and mining.

A bill that would have increased employer penalties for workplace safety violations died early last year in the Wyoming State Senate. Then-Gov. Dave Freudenthal had urged passage of the bill, which had been supported by industry groups.


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