RICE COUNTY – The massive explosion that rocked the Oneok natural gas plant near Bushton Tuesday night remains under investigation and no cause has been determined, Rice County Sheriff Bryant Evans said Wednesday morning.
But, “there were no safety concerns for any of the public,” Evans said. There were no injuries, no evacuations were ordered and the plant never went off line.
First responders from Rice and Ellsworth counties, as well as area communities, were first called at 9:41 p.m. The blast had completely obliterated the HTI building which housed company records and a fire raged.
“We would like to thank local officials for their quick response,” said Brad Borror, Oneok Partners communications manager. “Safeguarding our communities and employees and the environment is a company-wide commitment.”
It was a long night, a weary Evans said. When he left the scene Wednesday morning, hazardous material handling crews were staging should they be needed.
The sprawling Oneok straddles the Rice-Ellsworth county line just north of K-4 about five miles east of Bushton. The blast occurred at the portion of the plant that sits in Rice County at the intersection of 8th Road and Avenue A.
Evans said that in addition to the Rice County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Medical Services and Fire Department, the Bushton Fire Department, Ellsworth County Sheriff’s Office, Ellsworth Police Department, and Holyrood Police and Fire departments responded. Midwest Energy also arrived after the fires had been extinguished to check of power transmission lines.
“Everybody responded and everybody did their part,” Evans said. “We all worked well together.”
The plant is owned by Tusla, Okla.-based Oneok. It is a gas fractionating facility that takes the liquid streams from the gas processing plant, which may consist of methane, propane, butane and pentane and treats them in separate fractionation columns which may then go to an impurity treatment plant before being sold as separate components.
The building that exploded stood across the road from the fractionator, Borror said.
Originally founded in 1906 as an intrastate natural gas pipeline business in Oklahoma, ONEOK is involved in the natural gas and natural gas liquids businesses.