Two oilfield workers were airlifted to a San Antonio hospital after an oil storage tank exploded at the Ludwig Ranch near Dilley, TX on October 17. Authorities did not provide information about the severity of the explosion injuries but said air transport is often used for injured oilfield workers in remote areas. Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc. of Houston owns the tank battery located in a rural part of La Salle County about 70 miles southwest of San Antonio.
Oil and Gas Industry Injuries and Deaths
Fires and explosions aren’t common events in the oil and gas industries, but when they do occur the resulting injuries are serious and often fatal, according to Oil and Gas Industry Fatal and Nonfatal Occupational Injuries, a 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2008, for example, one-third of all oil and gas industry multiple-fatality incidents were due to fires and explosions.
The report, which examined oil and gas industry injuries and deaths from 2003 – 2008, includes fatality data associated with oil and gas extraction, oil and gas well-drilling, and support activities for oil and gas extraction; and injury data associated with oil and gas well-drilling. Because their purpose is to extract natural resources, these jobs are classified by the federal government as mining jobs.
From 2003 to 2007, there were an average of 4,020 non-fatal injuries associated with drilling oil and gas wells each year. Of those, an annual average of 112 were associated with fires and explosions.
Between 2004 and 2008, there were an average of 112 fatal occupational injuries in the oil and gas industries each year. Of those, an annual average of 14 were caused by fires and explosions.
For oil and gas workers who were injured on the job, the median number of days of work missed due to the injury was 30 in 2007. That number is much higher than other industries, according to the report, because one-quarter of these injuries are fractures which have a long recovery time. About 32 percent of these fractures occur when workers are struck by objects, about 21 percent occur when a worker is caught in equipment.
The three states with the highest number of oil and gas work-related fatalities in 2008 were Texas (41), Oklahoma (21), and Louisiana (13). And between 2004-2008, each of those states saw a sharp rise in the number of these deaths. In Oklahoma fatal, they increased 91 percent; in Louisiana, they increased by 30 percent; and inTexas, by 21 percent, according to the report.
State Investigates Blast
When emergency crews responding to the 10:45 a.m. call arrived at the Carizzo site near Dilley, several storage tanks were on fire. Thick, black smoke billowing into the air could be seen by residents in Cotulla, about 17 miles away.
Firefighters established a perimeter of a quarter mile and worked to bring the blaze under control. They have not yet established the ignition source of the blast.
The Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the state’s oil and gas industry. An inspector was at the scene within hours of the blast to conduct an investigation. In 2016, Carrizo ranked 20th on the agency’s list of the state’s largest oil producers.Carrizo operates 800 oil and gas wells in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, according to its website.
In 2013, the company was fined $192,044 for two spills stemming from its hydraulic fracturing operations in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. In March of that year, a spill of more than 200,000 gallons “frack fluid,” which contains harmful chemicals, forced the evacuation of several homes. In May 2013, a spill of more than 9,000 gallons of fluid seeped into the pasture of a nearby farm and into the basement of a nearby home.
Production at the site near Dilley was temporarily halted. Carrizo did not release a statement about the explosion.
Led by Fred Pritzker and Eric Hagemen, our team of explosion lawyers represents people nationwide who have been injured in explosions and the families of those who suffered the wrongful death of a loved one. If you have questions about an explosion injury or death, contact them for a free consultation. There is no obligation.