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Compression facility rupture unreported in Dunn County

Press Photo by Ashley Martin Workers walk by the remnants of a compression facility Thursday in Dunn County that exploded Tuesday. County officials say the company, Enid, Okla.-based Hiland, had not notified them of the equipment rupture. Hiland said no one was hurt and no flammable hydrocarbons were involved.1 / 2
Press Photo by Ashley Martin Debris is scattered hundreds of feet from the site of an explosion Thursday.2 / 2

DUNN COUNTY -- Twisted metal and large chunks of debris from an explosion littered the site and area surrounding a Hiland Partners compressor station west of Killdeer on Thursday.

The incident occurred just after 11 p.m. Tuesday, said Joe Griffin, president and CEO of Hiland, which is based in Enid, Okla.

However, local authorities said the incident had not been reported to Dunn County officials or emergency management as of Thursday afternoon.

"No injuries were sustained and no flammable hydrocarbons were involved," Griffin said. "A rupture occurred while pressure-testing equipment located at our Killdeer compressor station currently under construction approximately 16 miles west of Killdeer in Dunn County, North Dakota."

A man on-site Thursday who would not identify himself said the debris scattered several yards and across 120th Avenue Northwest was pieces of a compression tank.

"Compression stations collect gas from producing wells ... and compress the gas for the ultimate sale of the product," Griffin said. "The property damage was confined to LPG (liquid petroleum gas) storage tanks and associated piping."

He said the cause is under investigation and "the facility was secured immediately."

Dunn County Sheriff's Department officials knew nothing of the incident and neither did Emergency Manager Denise Brew.

"I should have been informed," she said. "Even if they say no one was hurt, no one was killed, it's still a big deal. It happened in our county and we need to know these things."

She added authorities should be notified to determine whether the situation is an emergency.

"This very easily becomes a health department concern, because we investigate how close to water it was and how close was the nearest residence, impact on people traveling back and forth and what was it?" Brew said. "What hazard is out there right now?"

The lack of reporting is "unacceptable," she said.

"The reporting responsibilities will absolutely be carried out," Griffin said when asked if anyone from Hiland reported the incident.

Keith Thompson, a compliance officer for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the rupture did not need to be reported to them.

"They're under no requirement to report it to us unless they hospitalize three or more, or it results in the death of one or more," Thompson said.

Not the first time

"One of my main concerns right now, to be honest, is this is not the first time something like this has happened," Brew said.

A gas line was breached in the county Jan. 9, gasses escaped into the air and authorities allegedly were not notified by the company who Brew would not name due to pending investigations.

"Until that pipeline is repaired, to me, it's an emergency," Brew said. "If we're not out there, basically policing it, it's going to keep happening. I like to give the companies the benefit of the doubt, but this is the kind of thing that just makes me livid."

She does not believe the pipe was leaking for long, since the company noticed immediately.

"It's very easy to do the right thing," Brew said. "All you have to do is call 911."