Friday, October 24, 2014

More workers in oil and gas industry die from fires, explosions than in any other private industry

Despite employing fewer than 1 percent of workers in the U.S., the oil and gas industry has more deaths from fires and explosions than any other private industry, accounting for 10 percent of such fatalities, Mike Soraghan reports for Environment & Energy News. The only profession with more deaths is firefighting.

The oil and gas industry apparently fails to see this as an issue, Soraghan writes. The American Petroleum Institute, the industry's biggest lobbying group, wrote earlier this year in a filing with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration: "There is little performance data showing there is a safety problem at these facilities. The risk level is not high." (E&E graphic)

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board "found 26 explosions and fires since 1983 at conventional oil and gas sites that killed 44 members of the public and injured 25 others," Soraghan writes. "The board, fashioned after the National Transportation Safety Board, made six recommendations to government agencies and industry groups when it released the study in 2011. None has been implemented." So far this year, at least eight fatal oil and gas explosions have occurred in the U.S.

Fire and explosions pose a threat to more than just workers, with 15.3 million people living within a mile of a well that had been drilled since 2000, The Wall Street Journal reported last year, Soraghan writes. But the oil and gas industry is heavily active in politics, spending $145 million last year lobbying the federal government, more than any other industry except pharmaceuticals and insurance, says the Center for Responsive Politics. ()

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