Burn Victim in Good Condition after Pipeline Explosion - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATE: Burn Victim in Good Condition after Pipeline Explosion; Investigation Underway

Posted: Updated:
The worker burned during Monday morning's explosion near Plymouth is recovering in a Portland hospital's burn unit. The worker burned during Monday morning's explosion near Plymouth is recovering in a Portland hospital's burn unit.

UPDATE/PLYMOUTH, WA - The worker burned during Monday morning's explosion near Plymouth is recovering in a Portland hospital's burn unit.

Legacy Emanuel Medical Center officials say 61-year-old Michael Yunker of Echo, OR is in good condition after suffering burns during Monday morning's explosion at the Williams Northwest Pipeline facility.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

PLYMOUTH, WA - According to Benton County Emergency Services workers, the fires at the Williams Northwest Pipeline facility are out.

Crews entered the plant site Monday night and were able to verify that the earlier work done at the facility had decreased flames.

The work plan for Tuesday includes identifying and resolving any remaining natural gas leaks from damaged piping and dealing with the damaged storage tank.

A pipeline safety investigator with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is interviewing employees at the facility about what may have caused explosion. 

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PLYMOUTH, WA - Benton County Emergency Services says workers at the Williams Northwest Pipeline facility today will try to identify and resolve any remaining leaks in a natural gas tank after Monday's explosion.

Workers also need to see when they will be able to start the clean up process from the damaged storage tank.

The tank was estimated to be holding about 7,000,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas when it was punctured by debris from the explosion.

Liquefied natural gas poses a personal health risk including nausea and difficulty breathing. It is also a volatile explosive.

Right now an evacuation order is still in effect for a one mile radius around the facility. Some people were allowed to return home last night. The Columbia River has been reopened for barge traffic and Highway 14 is also back open.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line that passes near the facility remains closed at this time.

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PLYMOUTH, WA – Benton County Emergency Management along with the Benton County Sheriff's Office, Washington State Patrol, Richland Police Department, Richland, Kennewick and Pasco Fire Departments, Benton County Fire Protections Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, Franklin County Fire Protection District 3, Walla Walla Fire Protection District 5 and Hanford Fire are participating in the response to the explosion at Williams Northwest Pipeline Gas Plant.

As a result of the explosion, shrapnel punctured a tank with the capacity of 1.25 billion cubic feet of liquid natural gas or 14 million gallons. They anticipate the tank was about ½ full or contained approximately 7 million gallons. Liquid natural gas poses a personal health risk including nausea and difficulty breathing. It is also a volatile explosive.

A 2 mile radius evacuation order was initiated shortly after the explosion. Benton County Sheriff's deputies and fire personnel went door to door to notify residents and occupants to evacuate due to the danger of explosion. An American Red Cross shelter was opened at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds located at 515 W. Orchard, Hermiston OR. As of 7:30 p.m. seventy five people had checked into the shelter but few were expected to stay overnight in the shelter.
As of 8:10 p.m. the evacuation zone has been reduced to a 1 mile radius. The road closures at Highway 14 and Interstate 82 West to Paterson have been lifted. River restrictions have also been lifted, Rail traffic remains closed.

There were 5 injuries; one person suffered burn injuries and was transported to a Portland burn center. Four people were transported to local hospitals. There were no life threatening injuries.

Emergency Crews and Williams Northwest Pipeline personnel entered the hazard area to assess the situation earlier this evening. Crews will continue monitoring the situation throughout the night.

The Benton County Emergency Operations Center will close for the night at 9:00 p.m. and will reopen tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m.

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