Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Williams blames natural gas compressor station explosion on worker error

MONTROSE, Pa. - State regulators and natural gas company officials faced nearly two hours of questions from residents about safety, air pollution and eroded public confidence during a briefing on April 17 at Montrose Area High School about a recent natural gas compressor station explosion.

Officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection and Williams, the company that owns the compressor station, sought to fill in gaps in the public understanding of the explosion and fire at the Lathrop station on March 29 and reassure citizens that the operations are safe.

Frank Billings, vice president for Williams' natural gas gathering and processing operations for the region, said the incident began with a worker error during maintenance of one of the compressor engines at the station. The company has since reviewed and reiterated its training protocols.

The mistake allowed gas to enter the compressor before it was ready, and the gas in the building ignited. Workers evacuated the site safely, he said. One employee suffered a minor injury that was reported after the incident.

"It was really a failure to follow one of our basic administration and safety procedures," he said.

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