Federal Officials Investigate Enterprise Mont Belvieu Plant Explosion and Resulting Death.February 15, 2011
Both Federal and State officials are investigating the cause of an explosion and fire which killed one worker at Enterprise Product's Mont Belvieu plant east of Houston on February 8, 2010.
Since 2004, Enterprise has paid thousands of dollars for serious safety violations, which includes at least one other death. Enterprise owned and operated a natural gas pipeline which ran through several states, including Mississippi. Part of that pipeline exploded in Mississippi causing the deaths of 2 people and resulting in isgnificant property damages. In June of 2010, an Enterprise natual gas pipeline near Cleburne, Texas exploded and caught fire, causing the death of one person and injuring others.
The incident in Mont Belvieu occurred when a fire erupted from what could have been a ruptured pipeline transporting natural gas. The remains of the deceased worker were found more than 24-hours after the blast.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation which will be made public once complete. Two state agencies will also launch investigations into violations of air admissions standards, and Enterprise will conduct its own investigation. Enterprise has said it will cooperate and share information with the government investigations. According to Enterprise, they cannot currently say what caused the fire but have resumed plant operations.
Enterprise points out that the plant in Mont Belvieu has not had any OSHA violations since 2001. However, it has been reported that the company has paid nearly $30,000 in fines since 2004, which include 3 serious citations from a flash fire which killed a worker in 2005. The company was also cited for serious violations in 2004.
One-third of the nation's oil is refined along the Texas gulf coast, which is covered with massive plants and littered with pipeline. The economy of the area relies upon the oil refining industry, and such accidents are not necessarily uncommon but they are preventable.