Gas Industry Is Trying to Reduce Explosions, Fires, and Accidents

by Duane Nichols on February 20, 2012

There have been two or three major explosions at Marcellus shale drill sites in the northern panhandle of WV.  Fires and flares are not uncommon, resulting in substantial concern with the residents. One explosion occurred in June 2010 when workers at an AB Resources well site hit a “shallow pocket” of methane gas a little more than 1,000 feet below the ground. In addition to injuring several workers, this ignited a large fireball that burned for days.

According to Casey Junkins of the Wheeling Intelligencer:

Smaller fires and leaks throughout Marshall County on sites operated by Gastar Exploration and Trans Energy Inc. have also taken place, while traffic accidents related to drilling continue. Other problems include allegedly unauthorized stream fillings by Chesapeake and alleged water pollution by natural gas processor Caiman Energy.

Chesapeake’s Senior Director of Corporate Development Stacey Brodak acknowledges that natural gas operations are not without their challenges. However, she said her company has “continuously reviewed and improved our operations” since beginning to work in the Mountain State’s Northern Panhandle four years ago.

Brodak said Chesapeake has spent about $70 million to upgrade and repair 83 miles of damaged roads in the Mountain State’s Northern Panhandle. “In some cases, we’ve implemented pre-emptive road maintenance to strengthen and improve roads before our operations begin,” she said. “Our repair projects have been well received as we leave the roads in better shape than they were in before we arrived.”

Matt Pitzarella, director of corporate communications and public affairs for Range Resources Corp., said, “We’re high tech and dynamic. So we’ve pretty dramatically improved how we work, which is now more efficient and productive. “The big thing for us is we’ve learned that we are not an industry that will operate below the radar,” he admitted. “People have questions and they have the right to have their concerns, real or perceived, to be addressed in an honest and transparent way.”


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

RD Blakeslee February 21, 2012 at 10:47 am

The articles “WV Water Research Institute: Water Management and Marcellus Gas Development” and “Gas Industry is Trying to Reduce Explosions, Fires and Accidents” are unbiased and helpful, IMO. Much can and should be done to improve technology and practices.

Among the most helpful contributions the blogs (FrackCheck among them) can make is to document and expose the irresponsible and reckless operators in the industry and commend those that have good safety records.


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