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Fire and explosion at oil field plant injures 3 workers

An explosion and fire at an oil processing facility in eastern Montana has injured three workers, at least two of whom were taken to a local hospital. The facility is in Wibaux, near the North Dakota border and at the eastern edge of the Bakken Shale crude oil formation. The facility takes slop oil, a waste material from the oil production process, and converts it into pipeline-grade crude oil.

This latest oil field accident happened as an oil tanker truck operator was pumping flammable material from the truck into the building. The three injured workers were installing insulation at the time. A flash explosion occurred, which resulted in a fire. Fire investigators do not know exactly what triggered the blaze, but they suspect space heaters may have been to blame.

At the time of this writing, the fire had been burning for 5 days. Wibaux County emergency officials were keeping the fire under observation and allowing it to burn itself out. Emergency officials did not know the condition of the injured workers, but stated at least two had been hospitalized in Dickinson, North Dakota.

When a worker is injured on the job in Montana, he or she is entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits. The benefits include compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and benefits for short and long term disability. To recover workers' compensation benefits the injured worker does not need to prove the employer was at fault in the accident, only that the worker was injured while in the course and scope of his or her employment.

Source: Billings Gazette, "3 men injured after oil recycling plant near Wibaux explodes," Dec. 30, 2012

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