OSHA fines 4 Colorado companies for deadly Mead oil tank battery explosion

DENVER – Four companies were fined in November for the oil tank battery explosion that killed one and hurt three others last May in Mead.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the fines earlier this week.

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Energes Services LLC, Dominguez Welding LLC and Unlimited Services LLC were fined a total of $70,711 because of the incident. Anadarko was fined $18,832.

Employees had been merging two oil tank batteries owned by Anadarko when vapors from a nearby crude oil tank pipe exploded.

Oscar Lopez Velasquez, 32, of Greeley died at the scene of the explosion, and three others suffered third-degree burns.

OSHA investigators found that the employers violated rules about introducing flames into areas with flammable gases; not isolating said vapors; and not adequately inspecting the site or addressing safety hazards.

All four companies have already spoken with OSHA’s Denver office to try and resolve the fines, OSHA said.

“Oil and gas industry employers must take proper precautions for hot work in the presence of flammable hydrocarbon vapors,” said OSHA Area Director Herb Gibson, in Denver. “OSHA and the industry have issued guidance for employers on the hazards of flammable materials and appropriate protective measures.”

Colorado has undertaken a review and is making changes to oil and gas reporting following the explosion, and another fatal explosion that happened in nearby Firestone shortly before the explosion in Mead.

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