Bango Oil Refinery has received three serious citations from the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration due to a December explosion that seriously burned a Fallon employee.
The Lahontan Valley News received a file on the investigation and citations from OSHA on Wednesday afternoon. The action announced by the state of Nevada proposes Bango, which is about 15 miles west of Fallon en route to Silver Springs, pay nearly $21,000 in fines.
The state OSHA based its investigation on two walk-around observations conducted after the Dec. 9, 2013, explosion at the oil refinery, which processes used motor oil by infiltration, distillation and hydrocracking process, producing recycled motor oil, asphalt and a small amount of volatiles.
Because of the below zero temperatures on Dec. 9, the coldest day of the year, the OSHA report said Bango employees were attempting to thaw out service pipes to the storage tanks that housed asphalt heated upward to 400 degrees.
OSHA stated “the ground crew was trying to use steam to loosen up the asphalt that was frozen or slowly moving in the pipes. At some point an employee grabbed a propane tank and wood burner (which employee stated was used time to time when steam was not working to free stuck pipe.)”
One employee handed the tank and burner to another employee, a man who eventually was burned after an explosion occurred and then a fire ensued.
“One employee helped pull him (the burned employee) farther from the explosion and fire, and other employees tried to cover the injured employee with snow and wait for the EMTs,” the report explained.
Eventually, the burned employee, a 24-year-old man from Fallon, was transported to the Sacramento burn center of the University of California, Davis.
It took local firefighters from Fallon/Churchill and Naval Air Station Fallon more than three hours to contain the fire. The Carson Highway was also shut own temporarily.
Prior to the explosion, the OSHA report stated a tanker with one driver and a Bango employee was loading hot asphalt flux. When the explosion occurred, the driver and helper were almost done loading the product in the loading bay. During the explosion, the report said the two employees ran across the top of the tanker to jump off the truck.
“The employee stated he knew one of the storage units of the tanks had erupted but did not know which one, and he said he saw the first and second lid blow off of the storage tanks as he was running,” the report continued, adding the employee was able to evacuate the spot and alert others of possibly more explosions.
After the explosion, local fire departments and agencies as well as state officials began assessing the explosion and the possible cause.
The observers said Bango Oil had trained employees on hot work procedures but did not follow the procedures including implementing the permit system with the introduction of an open flame on the day of the accident.
“Failure to follow Bango Oil Hot Work Procedures left workers exposed to the hazards of the fire and explosion when an open flame was used inside the petroleum product Tank Farm to thaw blocked product lines,” stated the report.
Although the state has issued three citations, the report said final determination is still in the administrative process.