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Washington State To Investigate Explosion At LNG Plant

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State and federal pipeline safety investigators have been dispatched to the site of an explosion and fire at the Williams Northwest Pipeline liquefied natural gas facility in Plymouth, Wash.

LNG is natural gas that’s been cooled to a liquid form for easier storage. The Williams Northwest Pipeline facility sits along the Columbia River just across from Umatilla, Ore. A company spokeswoman says neither of its two massive LNG storage tanks appear to be the source of the explosion.

Authorities say one of the four injured in Monday morning's blast was sent to a hospital in Portland, Ore., with burns. The other three were treated for minor injuries at a hospital in Hermiston, Ore. The explosion also shook nearby homes and led to the evacuation of about 400 residents.

The state's Pipeline Safety Director, David Lykken, dispatched an investigator to the scene and says a federal investigator will also respond.

“It’s far too early to know whether this was a failure of a piping material or some human error as far as operations go, so it’s way too early but we’ll be asking all those questions.”

The LNG storage facility at Plymouth, Wash., was inspected last fall and no safety violations were found.

The explosion is not expected to result in a major disruption of natural gas supply in Washington or Oregon. But the Williams Pipeline spokeswoman says it’s too early to know if there will be more localized impacts in southeast Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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