When a spark hits natural gas, the effect is instantaneous. The explosion is deafening, and the result to nearby workers is catastrophic. A gas fire can be extremely difficult to put out as gas from the well continues to feed the fire, and in the meantime, any nearby workers are at risk of serious injuries such as hearing loss, broken bones and fractures, lung damage, and first, second, and third degree burns and loss of life.
One worker was injured and taken to the hospital and another was killed during a natural gas well explosion and fire in southwestern Pennsylvania within miles of the West Virginia border near Bobtown, PA in Greene County. Approximately 20 employees were working when the explosion happened at a Chevron-owned well site just before 7 a.m. Natural gas fracking is at times an exceedingly dangerous business.
Cause of the Gas Well Explosion and Fire
In August, 2014, the DEP released the results of their investigation into the cause of the Greene County gas well explosion.
According to a statement from the DEP, “possible human error and a failed screw and nut assembly as factors that allowed gas to escape the well and led to the fire.”
“Basically, what you have here is an assembly where you have a bolt and a lock nut and it has to be tightened to a certain torque and a certain level. If that’s not done and it comes under pressure, it’s going to loosen and then eventually, let go. That’s what happened,” John Poister, of the DEP, said. “There’s supposed to be an experienced person working with a relatively inexperienced person. In this case, the person who was experienced was not necessarily right on top of the situation.”
The deceased was a contract technician for Cameron International, a subcontractor working at the well in Dunkard Township, Greene County.
Fire crews on scene report the flames were too intense for them to get too close to the well when they first arrived. The fire continued to burn for days after the explosion.
State Police closed roads around the well on Bald Hill Ridge Road and called in Wild Well Control, a special firefighting unit specializing in gas and oil well fires. Local firefighters, ambulance and emergency medical crews worked to contain the fire and treat the injured.
Injuries Common to the Oil and Gas Industry
Pennsylvanians and West Virginians have a long-standing tradition of working hard in spite of dangerous and exhausting conditions. Just as our coal miners have always faced the potential of industrial tragedies, oil and gas drilling workers are also experiencing similar tragedies resulting in serious permanent and fatal injuries.
Injuries common to the oil and gas industry include severed fingers, broken bones, foot injuries, burns, toxic chemical exposure, disfigurement, and traumatic brain injuries.
In most cases, a worker who is injured on the job will be able to receive some benefits from a Worker’s Compensation claim. In West Virginia, if employer is found to have intentionally placed their employee in harm’s way, resulting in serious injury or death, that employee may qualify to file a claim against the employer’s insurance company.
If the cause of your work-related injury was due to faulty equipment or a negligent contractor, you may be entitled to seek additional monetary compensation from that third party.
If you or your loved one has been injured due to negligence or willful violation of safety regulations in the workplace, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim.
Morgantown Gas Explosion Injury Lawyers
Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now. Call Jeff Robinette today for a free evaluation of your case at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.
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Source: WBOY News, “1 injured, 1 missing at SW Pa. gas well fire.” February 11, 2014