UPDATE 1-Two workers hurt in Texas fracking tank site blast

Wed May 16, 2012 1:14pm EDT

HOUSTON May 16 (Reuters) - Two workers were hurt in an explosion at a hydraulic fracturing tank site in south Texas early on Wednesday, a sheriff's dispatcher said.

U.S. workplace safety regulators cited the company that owns the site, Vann Energy Services LLC, three months ago for what inspectors called serious health and safety violations there.

A secretary for Vann Energy said the men were cleaning a tank at the maintenance facility that holds hydraulic fracturing or fracking tanks in Nixon, Texas when the blast happened. She declined to identify herself and said no further information, such as what the tanks contained, was available.

In February, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration said that the company required workers to enter a fracturing tank for cleaning without first testing for atmospheric hazards or training them on the hazards of confined spaces.

"Confined space and electrical hazards like the ones found at this site can kill workers. It is fortunate these hazards were identified before anyone was seriously injured," Casey Perkins, OSHA's area director in Austin, said at the time.

The Gonzalez County Sheriff's Office dispatcher said the two injured men were flown to a hospital in San Antonio. He declined to provide further information except to say that the blast was under investigation.

OSHA proposed fining Vann Energy $70,200 for 17 serious violations in February.

The citations included failures to: maintain electrical conductors and cords; ensure electrical equipment such as fans were approved for hazardous places; and provide covers for open pits.

The violations also included failure to provide workers with proper protective clothing and chemical hazard training.

OSHA did not immediately return calls on Wednesday about the latest incident.

OSHA said in February that Vann Energy provides trucking and oilfield support services, including cleaning fracturing tanks, at the Nixon site.

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