CSB Examining Fatal Oil Site Explosion in Weleetka, Oklahoma; Probe Follows Recent Release of Safety Video and Board Call for Greater Protections at Oil and Gas Sites

April 21, 2010
          Washington, DC, April 21, 2009— The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced today it has sent investigators to a fatal explosion which occurred April 14, 2010, at an oil site in Weleetka, Oklahoma.  The CSB team is headed by Investigations Supervisor Don Holmstrom who leads the CSB’s regional office in Denver, Colorado.   A 21-year-old member of the public died of burns sustained in the explosion and fire.
CSB Board Member William Wark said, “The CSB is very concerned about oil site explosions which continue to tragically take the lives of young people in rural areas of oil-producing states.  Only last week, I met the families of two teenagers killed last October in an oil site explosion in Mississippi. In that accident and others across the country, the victims have had easy access to storage tanks, catwalks, and hatches and do not appear to have been aware of the serious explosion hazard from highly flammable vapor that is inside or near the tanks.”
On April 13, 2010, the CSB released a safety video aimed at educating young people on the hazards of socializing at oil sites, a common phenomenon in rural areas, the CSB found. Entitled “No Place to Hang Out” the video tells the story of the tragic deaths of 18-year-old Wade White and 16-year-old Devon Byrd, killed October 31, 2009, when an oil tank, located in a clearing in the woods near the home of one of the boys in the rural town of Carnes, suddenly exploded. 

            The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.
For more information, contact Director of Public Affairs Dr. Daniel Horowitz, 202-261-7613, cell 202-441-6074, or Public Affairs Specialist Hillary Cohen, 202-261-3601, cell 202-446-8094.
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