Explosion in USA on December 03 2015 06:16 PM (UTC).
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating a fire and subsequent explosion that shook a gas processing plant Thursday morning in Reeves County, approximately six miles north of Orla, OSHA officials said Friday. Two people suffered minor injuries in the blast, local authorities told NewsWest 9, and more than 200 workers were evacuated. The facility, Ramsey Natural Gas Processing Plant, is owned by Western Gas Partners, L.P. and operated by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. The cause of the explosion has not been determined yet, Reeves County investigators said. The plant was previously fined for unrelated safety citations, federal inspection records revealed. A planned OSHA inspection in February uncovered five violations - three of which are listed as "serious violations" - that resulted in initial fines totaling more than $26,000. The citations were later settled, informally, and accompanying fines were lowered, OSHA records confirmed. According to an Anadarko spokesman, the violations were "primarily related to PSM (Process Safety Management)" and were "promptly addressed and resolved." Process safety management is an analytical tool focused on preventing releases of any substance defined as a "highly hazardous chemical." Further details about past inspection citations at the Ramsey plant were not made available. OSHA has six months, by law, to complete the ongoing investigation into Thursday morning's explosion. Diana Petterson, a Department of Labor representative, said "it is difficult to say how long [the] investigation may last." Anadarko officials and Ramsey gas plant employees expressed gratitude for the "life-saving" work of first responders who rushed to the scene. At least five law enforcement agencies from two states responded to the incident.
Gas plant officials said that all gas lines into and out of the Ramsey Plant have been closed off and the fire has been isolated to one area of the plant. An emailed statement from Anadarko Petroleum Corporation vice President of Corporate Communications, John Christiansen, said that there have been two confirmed with minor injuries at the Ramsey Plant near Orla, Texas. All of the 200 people at the site at the time of the fire have been accounted for and are being evacuated, Christiansen said. Three school buses from the Carlsbad area are traveling south to assist with the evacuation. Evacuation of employees and people in the area of the explosion continues. School buses have been spotted making their way toward the staging area at the state border to pickup employees and the injured. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, owner of the plant that exploded, has not commented on the incident but a representative said they are working to gather more information about the incident. According to Current-Argus reporters Sarah Matott and Maddy Hayden traffic on U.S. 285 south, near Malaga and toward the Texas border is severely delayed as traffic officers clear the way for vehicles transporting evacuated employees and the injured. Officers said that multiple people who were injured are being transported by bus to area hospitals. All employees from the plant are being evacuated by buses according to police officers on scene. New Mexico State Police and New Mexico Department of Transportation, as well as Eddy County Sheriff Deputies are present at the scene.