On Sunday morning, July 7, 2013, an explosion occurred at a hydraulic fracturing operation in Doddridge County, West Virginia, near the community of New Milton. At least five people were injured in the blast. Four workers at the well site suffered what authorities called potentially life-threatening burns.
Authorities and Colorado-based Antero Resources, the owner of the well, are investigating the cause of the explosion. It appears that the explosion occurred at one of the tanks that holds water and chemicals used in the fracturing, or "fracking," process. As part of that process, water is pumped into the ground to maintain the fractures through which oil and gas are collected. After fluid is used in fracturing, it returns to holding tanks like the one at which Sunday's blast occurred.
Since last October, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has cited Antero for at least ten regulatory violations. The WVDEP maintains a searchable database of such violations here. (http://www.dep.wv.gov/oil-and-gas/databaseinfo/Pages/OGD.aspx).
Sunday's accident follows on the heels of a fire this April at a natural gas facility near the town of Wick, in Tyler County, West Virginia, in which four people were injured, two fatally. These incidents highlight the continued tension between fracking's economic benefits and safety and environmental concerns about the process.
Having represented workers involved in drilling and industrial accidents for over 30 years, Hartley & O'Brien believes that shortcuts are no way to conduct a drilling operation, and that workers deserve a safe work environment. We stand ready to assist workers hurt as a result of unsafe drilling and fracking operations. If you or someone in your family has been injured in a drilling or fracking accident, please contact Hartley & O'Brien today to arrange a consultation.