When the temperature drops to single digits, people unfortunately forget about the tips for gas safety because they want to get out from the cold and return to their warm homes. This type of problem does not usually occur during summertime because people are not so pressured in ensuring that safety precautions are in place.
According to Leroy Warboys, Fire Chief of New Raymer, when the temperature drops to yearly lows, the danger to gas and oil workers increases. One Sunday morning at about 2:30 AM, he received information that a crude oil tanker exploded just of Colo. 14 which is more than 50 miles northeast of Greely. It is the third explosion in Weld County that is related to the gas and oil industry within a month.
Two days before the explosion at New Raymer, a person was injured in a fire at a gas and oil site east of Windsor. Before that, 3 contract workers were injured after an explosion and fire while working at a pipeline near Weld County Road. One of the contract workers died from the injuries sustained.
Each of the situations was different with the first involving a pipeline, the second, an active gas and oil site and the third, a tanker trunk explosion. According to Warboys, most gas and oil pipeline accidents result from pipeline ruptures when everything freezes. When the water lines freeze, pipelines that carry gas and oil usually back up and rupture. Fittings on equipment also contract due the cold and contribute to leakages.
Crude oil has flammability that is higher than gasoline so that a touch of static electricity is enough for it to catch fire. Energy companies frequently use heaters to prevent waterlines from freezing. If an employee makes a mistake and opens a wrong valve near a heater, an explosion or fire may result immediately.
However, the gas and oil industry’s culture has changed over the years. Employers have started to prioritize safety by providing training to employee regarding important tips for gas safety to prevent explosions and fires. Training is very important particularly if there are many new, less-experienced employees on the job site.