Blast at Ohio oil and gas well site kills 1 worker

Published:

BOLIVAR, Ohio (AP) -- A storage tank at an oil and gas well site exploded and shot flames at least 50 feet into the air on Monday, killing an employee.

Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the blast, which happened near Bolivar, about 65 miles south of Cleveland. Tuscarawas County coroner Jim Hubert said the employee had been performing maintenance on the tank, which was adjacent to the well. Bolivar Fire and Rescue confirmed the man was painting the tank.

Hubert said the man was "in the immediate vicinity" of the receiving tank for the oil when it exploded. He said a law enforcement officer had to be treated after he was overcome by the petroleum fumes from the explosion.

Nathan Mutschelknaus, an employee at a nearby group home, told the Times Reporter (http://bit.ly/Q2jH8h ) in the Dover-New Philadelphia area that he felt the ground shake and looked toward the oil well. Mutschelknaus said the cover of the storage tank shot about 100 feet into the air and fuel leaked down a driveway and into a field.

"I was out back, pressure-washing the porch and moving some of the furniture when the ground started to shake," he said. "I was looking over at the oil well, wondering what was shaking. Next thing I know, I heard the loud explosion and felt the shockwave."

Mutschelknaus told the newspaper he saw the tank's green cap land about 50 yards away from its original location.

State fire marshal spokesman Shane Cartmill said officials were working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to have a better assessment on the cause of the explosion in the next 24 to 36 hours.

Responders from more than a half-dozen emergency departments helped to get the resulting fire under control. Hazardous-materials crews were sent out to contain the fuel spill.

___

Information from: The Times Reporter, http://www.timesreporter.com

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.