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LNG Plant Still Not Safe For Investigators

State and federal pipeline safety investigators have not yet been able to access the scene of an explosion and fire at a natural gas facility in southeast Washington. But they are interviewing employees who work at the Williams Northwest Pipeline facility where the accident took place Monday.

The interviews are getting under way while work continues to make sure the facility is safe. The concern is there could be another explosion at the liquefied natural gas facility on the Columbia River. LNG is natural gas that’s been super-chilled to make it easier to store.

One of two giant storage tanks at the facility was breached in the explosion. Robots and thermal imaging are being used to assess the damage. Once the plant is deemed safe, investigators will begin their on-site investigation.

In addition to pipeline safety experts, Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries has sent a workplace investigator. One worker was hospitalized after the incident.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.