Safety in Focus After Natural Gas Drilling Increases in PA?
With the recent discovery of natural gas repositories in Pennsylvania, drilling for this precious resource has increased. With this increase also comes the risk of employee injury or death, as well as danger to residents in and around the drilling areas for this somewhat unstable gas. In late January, one incident of a well blowout exhibited the danger of natural gas drilling to the people of Pennsylvania, even though no one was injured or killed. Worker and citizen safety should be a top priority for state officials, but this still remains to be seen.
Natural Gas Well Blowout
During natural gas drilling operations at a Marcellus Shale well in Tioga State Forest, the well suddenly overflowed with 21,000 gallons of fracturing fluids and sand. The drilling method involved hydraulic fracturing, a controversial practice being investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where water, chemicals and sand are injected into the well under high amounts of pressure to break up shale and increase natural gas production. The state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is currently investigating the drilling accident and its effects.
The DEP stated in a recent news article that there were no injuries or deaths resulting from the Marcellus Shale well blowout. It also said there did not seem to be much natural gas leakage from the incident, and no fires or explosions occurred. The department issued a violation to the Canadian drilling company Talisman, who is in charge of the well's operations, demanding an analysis of the cause and effects of the blowout
While DEP's reaction to this incident was official, it is hardly comforting after a review of its previous reaction to a natural gas blowout. When a well began spitting out wastewater and gas for 16 hours straight in Clearfield County last June, the DEP sent out a multitude of representatives and investigators to review the blowout. It then hired and investigative consultant to assist in the evaluation of the incident, and then proceeded to fine the company, EOG, and its drilling contractor $400,000 for their carelessness.
Consistent Enforcement of Workplace Accidents and Blowouts
While the DEP maintains the Clearfield incident was more serious, should not all natural gas well accidents be handled in a consistent manner to ensure the safety of workers and residents in surrounding areas? Also, should not a thorough investigation of drinking and ground water be performed every time, to ensure nothing toxic leaked into it from a well's blowout? What about other environmental testing to ensure area residents are not being poisoned some other way? It seems that the DEP and other governmental entities should step up their safety and enforcement efforts against drilling companies for the well-being of the people of Pennsylvania.
If you or your loved one was injured or killed during a natural gas or other drilling incident, or you live near or around a well that recently experienced a blowout, contact a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney with experience in drilling and other industrial accidents and injuries to discuss your case and possible personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit options.