Bango Oil Cited For "Serious" Violations In Explosion And Fire


FALLON, NV - Nearly four months ago, an explosion and fire ripped through an oil recycling plant near Fallon.

Now we know how that accident happened and how the company's failures put its operation and its employees' safety at risk.

It happened on one of the coldest mornings of the winter as employees at Bango Oil near Lahontan Dam struggled to keep liquid asphalt moving through its plant.

The asphalt is usually heated to as much as 500 degrees, but in the cold it was moving sluggishly.

According to a report issued late Tuesday by the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration, In these conditions, employees commonly used steam to get things moving.

They did just that, but it wasn't doing much. So, one employee turned to an alternative method which had been used before, grabbing a propane fueled weed burner and applying open flame to the pipes.

The employee then passed the burner to 25 year old Daniel Snodgrass. He was left trying to heat pipes containing asphalt directly above his head.

As he did so, the steam hitting the hot asphalt inside one of the tanks created enough pressure to blow the top off one of the tanks, as it was apparently designed to do.

Another employee loading a tanker truck heard a wooshing noise, turned and saw hot asphalt spraying perhaps 50 feet in the air.

Snodgrass was directly underneath. As the heated oil rained down on him he dropped his torch and tried to run, slipping and falling face first, his clothes and body bathed in superheated oil.

Others, hearing his screams, ran to his aid, covering his body with snow.

Meanwhile, the flame from the dropped weed burner set off a fire, leading to explosions in other tanks.

It took firefighters more than two hours to extinguish it.

Snodgrass was flown to Reno, then to a Sacramento burn center in critical condition with second, third and fourth degree burns over more than half his body.

He survived, but today is facing a long term routine of painful physical therapy and counseling.

The OSHA report cites Bango Oil with three serious violations.

Apparently neither the use of steam nor the weed burner in cold weather was included in any of its procedures for permits.

And OSHA says Bango didn't address the safety issues raised by these methods in employee training either.

Finally, although the company had fitted its employees for winter weight fire resistant clothing, it had failed to issue any.

That morning, Daniel Snodgrass was wearing a common work jacket, no face shield and non-fire resistant gloves.

The violations carry a total of nearly $21,000 dollars and the company is directed to correct the issues by April 14.

Bango Oil may appeal the findings, but the plant won't be cleared for operation until the matter is settled.


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