An oil refinery in Fallon, NV, suffered an explosion Monday that critically injured a worker.
The explosion occurred at the Bango Refining plant near Fallon at 9:15 a.m., sending one employee via Care Flight to the University of California, Davis burn center. The man’s identity was not immediately available.
While the official cause of the explosion remains under investigation, a torch used to warm up pipes at the site could have started the fire that led to the explosion, Churchill County Sheriff Ben Trotter said. “You could see the black smoke from out of town as soon as I walked out the door from my office,” Trotter said.
The 40-employee Bango Refining is a Nevada-based company that recycles used oil.
The Fallon/Churchill Volunteer Fire Department is investigating the explosion.
Bango officials on Monday said no dangerous material escaped the facility.
Bango suspended all operations pending a full investigation of the matter. Fourteen employees were at the refinery when the explosion happened and officials said all ended up accounted for.
“We are grateful for the first responders who airlifted the injured employee to the hospital and to those whose efforts put out the fire,” said Dave Peel, Bango’s chief operating officer. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our employee’s family and every effort will be made to assure them that he receives the care he deserves.”
Company and fire department officials had conflicting reports about the explosion.
Fred Rogne, chief of the Fallon/Churchill Volunteer Fire Department, said three oil-filled storage tanks caught fire, causing the tops of the tanks to blow off and the explosion.
In a statement sent Monday, Bango Refining said “the facility experienced a rupture in one of its product tanks.”
Rogne said firefighters contained the blaze by 11:30 a.m., but they continued to look for hot spots Monday afternoon. “It could have been much worse,” Rogne said.
The refinery received 13 citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations between 2007 and 2012. Five were serious, according to OSHA information on a federal website.
OSHA supervisors went to the refinery plant Monday and were not available for comment.
According to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection website, Bango has a special use permit to produce up to 22,000 gallons per day of finished oil product from the refining of used motor oil and other lubricants.