Karnes County Explosion Injures One at Texas Saltwater Plant

Wednesday, 09 Oct 2013 12:46 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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An investigation is underway in Karnes County, Texas, after there was a saltwater plant explosion about 50 miles southeast of San Antonio Tuesday morning that injured a 32-year-old man.

The San Antonio Express-News reported that sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene around 5 a.m. Tuesday to find a saltwater disposal plant engulfed in flames. Some 60 firefighters and emergency personnel from local jurisdictions Kenedy, Gillett, Karnes City, and Nixon/Smiley responded to contain the scene.

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The injured man, whom authorities did not identify in media reports, was taken to the San Antonio Military Medical Center by helicopter for burns on his arms and face. Karnes County sheriff Dwayne Villanueva said that emergency personnel treated him at the scene before he was flown to San Antonio.

Villanueva told KENS-TV that at one point there was a risk for a second explosion, but firefighters were able to contain the blaze in time.

The company Gulf Coast Acquisitions owns the plant.

The saltwater disposal site, located off Highway 80 near Gillett, Texas, skimmed residual oil from the tanks and oilfield brine pumped it back into the ground. Karnes County officials said that the area was inspected daily. 

Officials told KENS-TV that they believe the worker climbed the catwalk, generating static electricity, and sparked the fire.

The Texas Commission on Environment Quality and the Texas Railroad Commission are investigating as well.

The Texas Railroad Commission records revealed that a rancher next to the plant had filed a protest over concerns for his livestock and water well. The Railroad Commission found more than 55,000 violations at oil and gas facilities statewide.

The Railroad Commission has assessed $1.17 million in penalties for nearly 400 in "major" violations. Last week, KENS-TV reported that an explosion at a working well's water pipeline in Falls City, Texas, injured six men.

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Related stories:

Gunman Kills Four People in Texas; Used Explosive

Texas Man Held on Pipe Bomb Charge Denies Role in Fertilizer Blast

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