As Idaho continues to dial up its efforts to extract natural gas from its lands—both private and pubic—a community in neighboring Wyoming is reeling from an explosion and fire at a natural gas processing plant.
The entire town of Opal, Wyo., about 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, was evacuated after an explosion ripped through a cryogenic processing tower, which chills unrefined natural gas. The subsequent fire at the plant continued to burn through the night and early morning hours.
The plant was owned by Williams Partners LP, a subsidy of Williams that owns and operates the main Williams Northwest Pipeline, which runs through Idaho and the Intermountain West.
The Opal plant removes carbon dioxide and other impurities from natural gas that comes from gas fields in the region. It can gather up to 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day, and it sends the refined product into pipelines that go to urban centers to the east, west and south.
No one was said to be injured in the April 23 blast. Emergency responders closed nearby Highway 30 and residents waited out the night in motels outside of town.