Authorities said Wednesday the explosion that hit a liquefied natural gas storage facility in Eastern Washington earlier this week threw 250-pound pieces of steel up to 300 yards through the air.
Benton County sheriff’s Deputy Joe Lusignan said Wednesday that it was “a little bit of a miracle” that no one was killed.
“It was an extremely powerful explosion, the initial explosion,” he said. “Fortunately, we didn’t have any subsequent ones after that.”
The Monday blast inside a processing plant at the Williams Northwest Pipeline LNG storage facility outside Plymouth, Benton County, injured five people and left a big gash in the side of an LNG storage tank.
Most Read Local Stories
- 2 people hospitalized after man drives into protesters on I-5 in downtown Seattle VIEW
- Coronavirus daily news updates, July 3: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
- Call it the 'boss tax:' Seattle finally finds a potent way to tax the rich
- A COVID-19 outbreak on UW's Greek Row hints at how hard it may be to open colleges this fall
- Gov. Inslee will require Washington businesses to turn away customers without coronavirus facial coverings
But a detailed assessment of the damage inside the processing plant will have to wait for a structural engineer to assure the building is safe to enter, Williams spokeswoman Michele Swaner said.
State and federal inspectors looking into the cause of the blast have interviewed injured workers.
Some of the debris flew more than 100 yards and damaged the tracks of the main rail line on the Washington side of the Columbia River. BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said more than 40 trains were delayed until the repairs were completed Tuesday afternoon and normal traffic was restored,
LNG leaking out of the bottom of the tank through a pipe of less than 1 inch in diameter was stopped Tuesday afternoon when crews were able to shut off a valve, Benton County District Fire Chief Rolland Watts said. Vaporized gas was still leaking from a gash in the outer wall of the 1.2 billion-cubic-foot storage tank, and blowing away on the wind, presenting little danger. Major piping is all underground and was not damaged.
Swaner said the facility remains offline, and workers have not yet determined whether the stainless steel inner wall of the LNG tank was breached. The facility supplies gas during times of high demand in winter to a pipeline that serves Cascade Natural Gas customers in Washington and Oregon. Swaner said there have been no interruptions to gas deliveries. Meanwhile, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and an incident command team have all left the area, and the evacuation order imposed Monday was lifted Tuesday.