MEDFORD – Grant County Emergency Management officials issued an evacuation advisory Thursday as a precautionary measure after a leak at a ONEOK Inc. hydrocarbon facility Tuesday.
City Manager Dea Kretchmar said officials are working with the American Red Cross to open a shelter to provide a safe place for residents who are concerned about propane vapors in the air, especially due to the fluctuating temperatures and wind speeds.
She said the evacuation is not mandatory, but residents within a 5-mile radius of the facility are advised to evacuate.
Rusty Surette, spokesman for the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, said the organization will open a shelter at the abandoned Wakita school at 200 S Spruce Street. He said those who evacuate are encouraged to bring a change of clothes and necessities.
ONEOK Inc. has been monitoring the levels since an unexpected brine release Tuesday night, spokeswoman Megan Washbourne said.
She said the leak began with brine leaking, but mostly propane vapors were being released by Wednesday afternoon.
Company officials are monitoring the site and have measured levels of flammability in the air. Washbourne said the levels still were safe as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Roads near the facility have been closed as a precaution, including U.S. 81. The Grant County Department of Transportation reports that U.S. 81 between Pond Creek and Medford will be closed for at least a week due to the ONEOK facility incident. Traffic will be diverted to State Highway 11, State Highway 74 and U.S. 60 while the road is closed.
The incident remains under investigation.