By Alton Porter
An Oklahoma truck driver employed by a contract trucking company was severely injured in a flash fire that blazed up as he was attempting to load waste material onto his tanker truck at a Kinder Morgan Pipeline company processing plant near Weldon Tuesday, Sept. 5.
The driver, whom authorities declined to identify citing conceivable HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) issues, received significant burns over approximately 70 percent of his body and was flown to a Houston hospital for treatment, according to Roger Dickey, Houston County emergency management coordinator and fire marshal.
Dickey said the incident occurred about 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Kinder Morgan Pipeline pump station facility located off CR 3575 out of Weldon.
"He (the truck driver) was loading condensate at an oil well or gas processing plant," Dickey explained. "As he began the process of loading this condensate in his truck, it looks like, right now, he had some vapors escape and just reached an ignition point.
"There was a flare that operates around the clock down there. (I'm) not sure that he did everything procedurally correct right now. Anyway, it probably allowed some excessive vapors to get out and come to a flash point. Basically, he just had a flash fire as he started that process and it enveloped him and he was burned in the process. He was outside the truck (when the incident occurred).
Dickey added the condensate is a common product at processing plants. "It's got a little bit of everything in it," he said. "It's almost like a waste product. They'll take it and process it sometimes, or they'll go and put it in a disposal well."
An investigation by authorities into the incident was continuing, as were separate internal investigations by the pipeline company and trucking company, Dickey said, adding, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), Texas Railroad Commission and other entities also most likely will inquire into the incident.