Unsafe Work Conditions Caused Fatal Miss. Explosion, Feds Say

Unsafe work conditions contributed to a deadly oilfield explosion in Smith County, Miss., in 2006, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said this week.

The board, an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents, released its findings about the oilfield explosion at a news conference in Jackson.

The Chemical Safety Board also called for the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board to provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration with a list of potentially unsafe conditions it finds during its field inspections of oil field and drilling operations.

Three workers were killed in the June 5, 2006, explosion at the Partridge-Raleigh LLC oil field about six miles southwest of Raleigh.

In September 2006, OSHA said its investigation found the accident occurred as employees welded pipes connecting used oil storage tanks. The federal agency said vapors in one tank that contained oil residue traveled through the piping and sparks ignited the vapors.

OSHA said its regulations require purging of containers and piping before welding.

Stringer Oilfield Services, which operated the oil field, was cited for allowing welding in an explosive atmosphere, failing to ventilate or take steps to prevent heat or sparks from entering the piping and tanks, failing to protect employees working on the tanks and failing to provide written safety programs for employees working in confined spaces.

Those killed and injured were employees of Stringer Oilfield Services.

Cody Scarborough, 18, and Nicholas Pounds, 23, both of Foxworth, died at the scene of the explosion, officials said, while George Ben Jefferson, 53, of Columbia, died later.