Wetzel County Oil & Gas Task Force Concerned About Roads & Trucks

by Duane Nichols on October 29, 2017

Fracking industry trucks in Wetzel County, WV. (Bill Hughes)

Wetzel County Oil and Gas Task Force, LEPC Discuss Issues

From an Article by Barbara Harbac, Wetzel Chronicle, October 25, 2017

Members of the Wetzel County Oil and Gas Task Force came together Friday, Oct. 20 at the Mollohan Center. Members and community residents addressed issues concerning increased traffic caused by an increase in industry activities. Ray Renaud, from the Wetzel County Office of Emergency Management (WCOEM), informed the task force that there had been a significant decrease in the number of accidents related to gas and oil traffic in the last three years. He credits the reduction in accidents to Southwestern Energy Company’s (SWN) procedures regarding pilot truck drivers.

Renaud pointed out, “Southwestern has a policy they escort every truck with an escort pilot vehicle and we have problems with that, the way it’s escorted but it made a remarkable difference in the number of accidents we face.”

This decrease in accidents led the committee to believe that any oil and gas company truck that can’t maintain its lane, due to sharp turns or narrow roads, should be accompanied by an escort truck.

Renaud stated that the task force’s Road Safety Committee wanted to develop a uniform set of best practices for trucks traveling on Wetzel County roads. He informed the committee that he was meeting with the Commissioner of Highways on Monday to present the framework for having these best practices adopted.

Resident Dian Wilson is an emergency responder, but noted she was not speaking on behalf of her department. Wilson questioned why trucks are traveling so close to their escort vehicles. She stated that, even when she was stopped on the road in her emergency vehicle, some trucks nearly hit her. Wilson suggested that if the pilot cars were further ahead of the trucks, they could warn the drivers of oncoming traffic.

Others were also concerned. Bill Hughes spoke to the committee about the oil and gas traffic on Doolin Run road. He remarked that EQT also had pilot trucks that were not far enough away from the trucks they were guiding, to make a difference. He stated that the companies did not coordinate or communicate with each other. Hughes cautioned, “Doolin is a dangerous road in daylight, good weather, in a small vehicle.”

He then presented pictures of trucks allegedly carrying hazardous materials, sitting in the ditches on Doolin Run road, as well as four truck long convoys passing each other. Hughes cautioned, “The more and more we see this, the more and more we know we’re on borrowed time.”

In other news, Brian Jones, transportation director for Wetzel County Schools, handed out a schedule of days school will be in session and educated the committee on how to be notified, via automated phone calls, of last minute changes due to inclement weather.

Jones went on to address the task force about an incident that happened on Co. Rd. 89, Proctor Run Rd. He explained that a school bus was unlawfully passed on the left-hand side while it was stopped on the road with its lights flashing. Jones presented pictures and videos to the committee, taken from the cameras installed on the bus. Although these pictures clearly displayed the truck involved in the incident, the license plate number was not captured from the video. It was noted that it was a Ford 350 with dual wheels and a generator or fuel tank on the back.

Jones emphasized, “This is a $60,000 or $70,000 truck. A typical land owner out 89… I don’t envision them driving this truck, typically.” He then urged, “This practice must stop. We can’t be in such a hurry that we place residents or pedestrians at risk.”

The operator driving the bus that day stated that he always pulls over to let traffic pass when there is a place to do so. He understands that people live out that road and are trying to get to work on time. Jones reminded, “We want to be a good neighbor; we want to be kind, and we want to be courteous.”

The next meeting of the Oil and Gas Task Force is scheduled for January 19 at 10 a.m.

The Wetzel County LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Committee) also met at the Mollohan Center on October 20.

Ray Renaud updated the committee on WCOEM obtaining two radiation gauges used for contamination and survey, and two wearable devices that alert the user if they are in a radiation field.

Larry Couch, present on behalf of Blue Racer, reported that the plant now has two portable air monitors available to test for hazardous chemicals. He advised the committee that he could bring them the air filters in the event of an emergency. Couch stated that there was a table-top exercise in Marshall County that Blue Racer, Westlake, Covestro, Marshall County Emergency Management and Wetzel County Emergency Management participated in, that was intended to prepare the agencies for a chlorine leak.

Couch went on to state, “A lot of the public doesn’t understand everything industries have to do to protect their people and the public and I think all that came out, and I think that helped to open some eyes.”

Sapp inquired about a full-scale exercise on November 2. Couch explained that Westlake would be conducting that exercise, so he was not aware of all the details. He believes that there will be a mock casualty, and mock injuries during the exercise. It is expected that both Wetzel County Hospital and Reynolds Memorial Hospital will be participating in this exercise as well.

The next meeting of the L.E.P.C. is January 19, at 11 a.m.


See also: Marcellus-Shale.us

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WTRF News 7 October 29, 2017 at 10:51 am

RECALL — Evacuees React to Axiall Chemical Leak

From Tate Blanchard, WTRF News 7, August 27, 2016

PROCTOR, W.Va. -Evacuation shelters, like the one at Grand View Volunteer Fire Department, popped up in several different locations around Wetzel and Marshall Counties. It is all in an effort to keep people safe.

It was a frightening situation this morning in Wetzel County as neighbors learned they must leave their homes due to an accident at the Axiall plant. “It was very scary because my husband had worked at Axiall at one time,” said Pat Kendall, an evacuated resident.

This is not the first time the people living in the area have had to deal with a situation like this. Frank Kendall is now retired but spent decades working at the plant, and he has dealt with the situations first hand as an employee. He says it is not something they ever get used to. “I worked there for 42 years, and I’m a little bit familiar with that chlorine. It’s bad stuff. I’ve been it in a few times, and I went down on my knees,” said Kendall.

It was right around 9:30 this morning that personnel with Station Three heard over the scanner there was an evacuation in place. That’s when they decided to jump into action, activating their shelter. “When I went into service, I told dispatch that we would set this up as a shelter to send people here instead of sending them all the way back into New Martinsville,” said Dian Wilson, volunteer.

One family, new to the area, needed help getting out, so Dian went to get them. “It was pretty bad down there at the bottom of Route 89. It was very strong. You could taste it, and you could smell it,” said Wilson.

It was a 16-year-old girl who decided to put the marquee out, letting everyone know who drives up and down County Road 89 that Station Three is open to help.

“I called my son, and he was in PPG at the time, J&T Paving, and he works there for them. He was there, and he said it was just a big old green cloud coming after them. He said he took off down the road and up over the hill,” said Jo Cartwright, an evacuee.

Inside, everyone enjoyed conversation and some food provided to them in a nice, cool environment–all the while worrying about when they could return home.

People at Grand View Volunteer Fire Department say they were not forced to activate this morning, they just thought it was the best thing to do in order to keep the people they serve safe.

Source: http://www.yourohiovalley.com/story/32855423/evacuees-react-to-axiall-chemical-leak


HSE Now November 24, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Road Accidents Top List of Fatality Causes in Oil and Gas Industry for 2014

Society of Petroleum Engineers, HSE Now, November 16, 2017

HSE Now is a source for news and technical information affecting the health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility discipline of the upstream oil and gas industry.

Of all of the dangerous activities in the oil and gas industry, driving remains at the top of the list. In 2014, the leading cause of fatalities in the industry was road accidents.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which recently released a report on 2014 oil and gas fatalities, 18% of the 101 deaths for the year were the result of roadway vehicle accidents. The report says that, of these incidents, nine fatally injured workers were not wearing seatbelts and five drivers were fatigued.

The report presents data from the NIOSH Fatalities in Oil and Gas Extraction (FOG) database and was updated recently to include data from the second half of the year. According to the report’s executive summary, it is intended to serve as a resource for health and safety professionals, managers, and other stakeholders in identifying and eliminating hazards encountered by workers during oil and gas extraction operations.

Fatalities are presented by rig count, workforce, location, industry group, event type, operation, activities, and the number of fatalities per incident. Cardiac and undetermined fatalities with no known work exposure are generally excluded from the report but are included in the FOG database.

For 2014, the database lists 88 fatal incidents accounting for 101 fatalities. In ten of these incidents, more than one worker was killed. These deaths occurred in 14 states, with the largest proportion occurring in Texas (44%), Oklahoma (11%), and North Dakota (10%). These states also had the greatest proportion of industry activity as measured by the number of active US rotary rigs, with 47%, 11%, and 9% respectively.

The largest number of deaths listed in the database were workers in service companies (45%), and these occurred during all stages of extraction. Fourteen fatalities occurred during completions; 11 during production; and five during well servicing, workover, or intervention.

Source: https://www.spe.org/en/hsenow/hse-now-article-page/?art=3608


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