An explosion and fire erupted early Monday morning at one of the two storage tanks at a liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility near Plymouth, WA, along the Columbia River. The plant was immediately shut down and everything was under control within two hours of the incident, a Salt Lake City-based spokesperson for plant operator Williams Partners told NGI.
Williams would not confirm that an explosion occurred as reported initially by news media, but it said the fire resulted in injuries to one worker. Subsequently, a spokesperson for the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which had investigators at the scene, verified that an explosion followed by a fire had occurred, and at least four workers were injured.
Residents in the nearby town of Plymouth were evacuated. The storage facility, which has been a long-time part of Williams' Northwest Pipeline Co.'s 4,000-mile transmission operations in the Pacific Northwest, includes two 1.2 Bcf storage tanks.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, according to the Williams spokesperson, who said federal and state investigators were at the scene.
The fire reportedly began at 8:15 a.m. PDT, followed by the explosion in one storage tank, according to Benton County Fire District spokesperson Ed Dunbar, as reported by Reuters. The two storage tanks were one-third to one-half full of LNG at the time of the incident, the Williams spokesperson said.
Although not confirmed by Williams, first responders were reported by news media to have said one of the tanks experienced an explosion that create a "cloud" that was being blown toward the population area in Plymouth.
Firefighters reportedly evacuated hundreds of residents in the town, which is in south-central Washington state, across the Columbia River from the Oregon town of Umatilla, which is a regional energy hub. Williams' website information on Northwest Pipeline identifies 14 Bcf of storage available in the Northwest, but it does not call out the LNG facility.