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CSB: Oil and gas sites pose risk to public

November 2, 2011

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Hattiesburg, MS – The Chemical Safety Board is calling for new public protection measures at oil and gas production sites.

A new report (.pdf file) released Oct. 27 identifies 26 oil and gas incidents that, since 1983, have killed 44 members of the public and injured 25 people younger than 25. It focuses on three separate fatalities that occurred between October 2009 and April 2010 and involved young people in isolated, rural wooded areas at production sites that, according to CSB, lacked fences, clear warning signs and hatch locks on the tanks.

CSB said children and young adults often socialize at oil sites in rural communities without recognizing the explosion hazards from storage tanks containing flammable hydrocarbons. A match, lighter or cigarette, or static electricity could serve as an unintentional ignition source and cause the tank to explode and become airborne.

The report calls on state agencies to boost safety requirements and the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a safety bulletin on explosion hazards of storage tanks, and recommends use of "inherently safer" storage tank design.

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