CSB Investigators to Examine Scene of Fatal Ohio Oilfield Explosion

October 20, 2008

Washington, DC, October 20, 2008 - A two-person investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is en route to the site of yesterday's fatal explosion at a rural Ohio oilfield, approximately 60 miles northwest of Columbus. The team is expected to arrive at the site in La Rue, Ohio, on Tuesday.

The explosion, at a facility operated by Canada-based Mar Oil Company, killed two contract workers who were reportedly involved in welding near an oil storage tank.

"This latest tragedy comes less than two weeks after a welder was killed and others were injured by an oil tank explosion in Honolulu," said CSB Chairman John Bresland. "Our team will seek to determine if there are similarities between the accident in Ohio and previous cases involving welding in the vicinity of flammable storage tanks."

The CSB investigated an accident in June 2006 at an oilfield near Jackson, Mississippi, which occurred during an operation to weld a pipe onto a crude oil storage tank. No flammable gas testing had been conducted, and flammable vapor escaping from a nearby tank ignited. The resulting explosion killed three contract workers and injured a fourth. The CSB recently issued a safety video based on the case, entitled Death in the Oilfield, which can be viewed at safetyvideos.gov.

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 companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Please visit our website, www.csb.gov.

For more information, please contact CSB Public Affairs Director Dr. Daniel Horowitz at (202) 261-7613 or (202) 441-6074 cell.

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