Exploding oil storage sites are “No Place To Hangout”

“No Place To Hang Out: The Danger of Oil Sites” is the title of a new and unusual safety video released by the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board late yesterday. It is the most recent in a string of some 21 CSB safety videos. The videos have been well-received and all of them but this one have been intended to change industrial practices and the behavior of workers, plant managers, and executives, which led to deadly accidents. This time, however, the audience for “No Place To Hang Out” is kids and young adults.

Since 1983, CSB says, 36 teenagers and six young adults have been killed while hanging out near rural oil storage tanks, when leaking tank vapor emissions found an ignition source and blew up the tank. The 11-minute video explains what happened last October when the lives of Wade White, 18, and Devon Byrd, 16, came to an end in the blast from an oil tank in rural Carnes, Miss.
“This was not an isolated incident,” says CSB’s Hillary Cohen. In the last 7 years, 14 other young people have died standing around unfenced, unsigned oil storage tanks, she says, pointing to a need for warning signs and simple industrial fences as well as an education program in regions where isolated oil tanks are common.

Teenagers and adults who were interviewed for the video say it is a common practice in rural areas for young people to socialize at oil production sites. “It’s like our own little sanctuary where we can just be away from everybody,” says Cody Hunt, 18, one of the teens featured in the video. Hunt goes on to warn other teens, “It’s not worth going out and losing your life over it.”
The board encouraged the community—especially teenagers who hung out at the tank and knew White and Byrd—to collect material for the video. It even supplied small video cameras for students to interview one another and other community members over the impact of the accident.

Speaking for the three-member Chemical Safety Board, Board Member William B. Wark adds, “The Board urges oil and gas production companies, state legislatures, and regulators to ensure that oil and gas tank sites are properly secured and have appropriate warning signs to discourage entry. We also urge parents and teachers to educate teens about the potentially deadly risk from these sites.”

CSB also has a work group looking into possible national regulations for these sites, and meanwhile Wark urges the oil industry to step up and voluntarily control these sites.

Author: Jeff Johnson

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