Three workers are dead after an explosion occurred at an abandoned metal crude oil tank operated by Long Brothers Oil Company in Norphlet, Arkansas. The explosion happened earlier this week while the workers were performing hot work to dissemble the tank. Hot work is any burning, cutting, welding or other operations that are capable of starting fires and/or explosions. Sparks ignited vapors inside the tank and caused the fatal explosion. The fire then spread to the woods nearby and burned into the evening.

Now, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has announced that they will send out a four person team to investigate the incident. The investigation will begin later this week. Chairman of the CSB, Rafael Moure-Eraso, released a statement concerning this disastrous incident, “This unfortunate tragedy in Arkansas involving the deaths of three workers is the kind of hot work accident that occurs much too frequently.  The CSB has investigated too many of these accidents which can be prevented by carefully monitoring for flammable vapor before and during hot work.  We have released a safety bulletin and safety video on the hazards of welding or cutting around piping and tanks that have not been tested or monitored to see if they contain flammable hydrocarbons.”

The CSB safety bulletin and safety video can be found on the organizations website using the below links:

  • “Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths During Hot Work In and Around Tanks: Effective Hazard Assessment and Use of Combustible Gas Monitoring Will Save Lives”
  • “Hot Work: Hidden Hazards”

Names of the victims of the Arkansas incident have not yet been released.