An explosion occurred just after 6:00 p.m. on Thursday night at a natural gas refinery in Washington County. Authorities immediately responded to the incident, and medical crews assisted workers injured from the blast. Four helicopters and multiple emergency response teams appeared on the scene.
What We Know So Far
The accident occurred near a processing plant owned and operated by MarkWest Energy. Workers were accomplishing scheduled maintenance when flames erupted. According to a statement from MarkWest, the incident involved “two temporary tanks that were on-site for routine maintenance, resulting in a fire.” MarkWest also stated that the refinery was shut down out of concern over the proximity of flames.
The incident prompted multiple agencies to respond due to its potential for escalated danger. In total, nine fire department, three EMS crews, and the county’s hazmat unit responded to the scene of the accident. Fire crews doused the flames by 7:30 P.M. using foam. Authorities have launched an investigation to determine the cause of the explosion.
This morning, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette released more details about the injured workers. Each of the workers experienced burn injuries, with two airlifted to UPMC Mercy and the others flown to West Penn Hospital. One of the workers at UPMC Mercy is currently in critical condition.
About MarkWest Energy
MarkWest Energy is a subsidiary wholly owned Marathon Petroleum Corporation, the largest refinery owner in the United States. In recent years, MarkWest energy has seen significant growth by developing natural gas lines.
The plant, located just 25 miles of Pittsburgh in Houston, processes material extracted from the Marcellus shale play. This formation has been an active site of oil exploration for over a century. However, recent surveys note that the region’s natural gas supply is mostly untapped. The shale play is outstanding because of its proximity to urban centers of the Eastern United States.
The Pittsburgh explosion is not the only accident in recent times at a Marathon Petroleum refinery. In 2016, a fire at a refinery in Galveston Bay, Texas sent three workers to the hospital with severe burn injuries. Much like the recent Pittsburgh refinery accident, this accident occurred during scheduled maintenance. Arnold & Itkin represented two of the victims of this incident.
Pittsburgh Plant Explosions
Refineries process substances that are volatile and extremely prone to explosion. If companies do not prioritize safety, workers pay for it with their physical health. As the Marcellus shale play continues to be explored and exploited for its resources, companies that own refineries in and around Pittsburgh must be sure that the lives of their employees are not being risked.
Arnold & Itkin’s Pittsburgh plant explosion attorneys will continue to follow this story as authorities reveal more details.