Williams Gas Plant shut down after explosion; No injuries; Roads reopened today

UPDATE Thursday at noon:

OPAL — The Wyoming Department of Transportation has reopened US 30 and WYO 240 near the Opal-Kemmerer area.

An explosion and fire took place at the Williams Gas Plant Wednesday afternoon and WYDOT responded with the road closures.

UPDATE: Here is a statement released by the company Friday evening:

Williams Partners Shuts Down Opal., Wyo., Gas Processing Facility After Explosion and Fire; No Injuries

TULSA, Okla. – Williams Partners L.P. (NYSE: WPZ) and Williams (NYSE:WMB) reported an explosion and fire at approximately 2 p.m. Mountain Time at their natural gas processing facility in Lincoln County, Wyo., near the town of Opal. There were no reported injuries or damage to property outside the facility.

The facility was immediately shut down and emergency procedures were activated. All personnel were safely evacuated from the facility. First-responders evacuated an area that includes the town of Opal and closed Highway 30 in proximity to the plant. Williams is making accommodations for the displaced residents.

The company’s top priority right now is ensuring the safety of our employees and surrounding community, as well as cooperating with the local authorities and regulatory agencies.

Natural-gas gathering from surrounding producing areas is temporarily suspended as a result of the incident. The company is evaluating alternatives so that natural gas production can resume as soon as possible.

The Opal facility processes natural gas gathered from wells in the area in preparation for interstate natural gas pipeline transport. It also produces natural gas liquids from the natural gas. The Opal plant has an inlet capacity of 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Recent daily volumes have been approximately 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

The incident is known to have affected TXP-3, one of the five cryogenic processing trains that comprise the Opal facility. It is too early to determine the extent of damage to the facility or a timeline for return to service. Once it is safe to return to the plant, Williams will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident in cooperation with regulators.

To see photos and comments from the scene of the fire from our news partner SweetwaterNOW, click here.

(Opal, Wyo.) – Our partners at SweetwaterNOW.com are reporting that the town of Opal is being evacuated following a natural gas explosion at the Williams Gas Plant.

UPDATE 4:29 p.m. – According to the management of Little America as evacuees arrive they will be registered and friends and family can call 1-307-875-2400 to see if loved ones are lodged there.  Staff said no evacuees have arrived yet but are expected soon.

UPDATE 4:25 p.m. – According to WilliamsLP evacuated residents of Opal are being transported to Little America where they will be lodged.

UPDATE 4:15 p.m. – According to Michele Swaner with WilliamsLP NO INJURIES ARE REPORTED AND EVERYONE IS ACCOUNTED FOR AT PLANT.

WYDOT has reportedly closed US 30 and WYO  Highway 240; traffic is being diverted to the port of entry.

A witness to the explosion told SweetwaterNOW that he was 300 yards away from the facility when he heard a loud gas release then all of a sudden the biggest ball of fire went up. He then yelled for co-workers to run for their trucks. They could feel the heat on their faces from the explosion.

As of 3:40 p.m., Sweetwater County Emergency Management Director Dave Johnson said that Lincoln County has not asked for outside resources yet.

More information will be posted here as it comes available.