NewsCovering Louisiana


New safety rules proposed after February oil tank explosion that killed a Louisiana teen

Zalee Gail Day-Smith on battery tanks.jpg
Posted at 9:45 AM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 10:45:39-04

Following the death of a teenager this year due to a oil tank explosion, state officials are proposing changes to safety rules.

14 year old Zalee Day, of Ragley, died in the explosion that happened just before 5 p.m. on Sunday February 28, 2021, near Cordial Lane and South Cooley Road.

According to the Adocate, her death prompted the state Office of Conservation to propose rules that would require tank batteries close to homes, schools, churches and roads to have security fencing, warning signs and other protective measures to keep people from getting onto the flammable, hazardous equipment.

Oil well explosion.jpg

In March, the multi-agency investigation was still undetermined, but authorities say the victim's presence near the tanks moments before the incident has been identified as a contributing factor in the case.

Witnesses statements indicate that two tank batteries on an inactive oil field site exploded, one after the other, with one traveling several hundred yards away from its starting location. Firefighters located the body of Zalee Day, near the displaced tanks.

According to police, Day lived within eyesight of the tanks.

Additional witness statements indicate the teen was seen in the immediate area of the tanks in the moments before the blasts and subsequent fire.

The Advocate reports that the new proposed safety rules come nearly 10 years after the U.S. Chemical Safety Board warned that oil batteries in rural areas posed a unique and dangerous attraction for teens and even young adults living among the nation's wide-open spaces. The board recommended warnings and other steps to limit public access.

They report that the proposed Louisiana rules have not yet been put out for public notice and comment because they are awaiting a fiscal estimate, Conservation officials said. The process could take until the fall to enact the rules, depending on comments.

Read the full report from the Advocate here.

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