A major blast at a natural gas processing plant on the Washington-Oregon border seriously injured five workers and caused 1,000 nearby residents and agricultural workers to be evacuated from their farms and homes. The Associated Press reports that a mushroom cloud of black smoke was visible for more than a mile. Residents reported hearing the explosion from as far away as 20 miles from the facility.
The facility was part of the Williams Northwest Pipeline, which operates nearly 15,000 miles of interstate natural gas pipelines through the region. The blast occurred in the Washington town of Plymouth, where the facility cools natural gas into a liquefied state.The Williams Northwest Pipeline crosses Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.
This morning's Tri-City Herald reports that is was unknown when Plymouth residents would be able to return to their homes.
Monday's blast, which sent shrapnel into a 14.6-million-gallon storage tank, resulted in the leak of super-cold liquefied natural gas.
Barge and boat traffic was shut down on the nearby Columbia River and rail lines near the plant also came to a standstill.
The Herald reports that up to 120 responders were in Plymouth Monday afternoon, including regional fire crews and law enforcement agencies, state Department of Transportation officials and Washington state troopers.