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Breaking: One Missing After Gas Well Explodes in Western Pennsylvania

February 11, 2014

“Pennsylvania State Police said it could take days to contain the fire from an explosion at a Greene County gas well this morning that left one person missing,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported today at 3:21 pm.

Crews battle fire at a gas well in Greene County, PA Feb 11 2014. Photo: KDKA-TV

The well near Bobtown, Pennsylvania, where about 20 employees were working, exploded around 7 a.m., drawing emergency crews and ambulances to the scene.

DEP spokesman John Poister said that Chevron, which is responsible for the apparent blowout, explosions and fire, called in a Wild Well gas well fire control unit from Houston but that unit will not be on site til 4 pm today.

Mr. Poister also said that a truck on the well pad that contained propane also exploded. The fire was so intense that firefighters had to pull back from the flames, he said.

More from the Post-Gazette reporters Molly Born and Amy McConnell Schaarsmith:

“We’re being told … the site itself, that fire, will not be contained and we will not have access to that property for at least a few days,” Trooper Stefani Plume said.

A representative from Chevron Corp., which operates the site, would not answer questions at the briefing.

One worker was hospitalized with minor injuries, Trooper Plume said.

Another is missing, according to the trooper and Chevron spokesman Trip Oliver. The other 18 workers had been accounted for as of 8:48 a.m., according to Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene. It is not yet clear what sparked the explosion.

“I’m praying that everyone is safe, and that if anyone is unaccounted for that they are found alive and well,” Ms. Snyder said.

The explosion at the Chevron Appalachia-owned Lanco 7H well at 641 Bald Hill Church Road just caused a fire that forced state troopers from the Waynesburg barracks to close the road to traffic and establish a half-mile perimeter around the site, according to state police and Ms. Snyder.

Plumes of smoke billowed from the area of the well, which was still burning after noon.

Firefighters from Bobtown/Dunkard Township, Greensboro, Mount Morris and Carmichaels have responded to the scene.

The state Department of Environmental Protection and the Greene County Emergency Management Agency also are on the scene, and help from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Red Cross has been requested.

The explosion and fire appear to be a fracking blowout. However, after the first big blowouts in Pennsylvania in 2010, the fracking industry has been successful in making sure the word “blowout” does not appear in the press.

This appears to be key to industry PR efforts to de-link the fracking industry blowouts, in the public mind, from BP’s blowout and its well-known elements: devastating pollution, death and injury to workers; cozy relationships between the industry and regulators which led safety procedures to be ignored.

We trust the public to understand that whether it’s BP, Chevron, Range, Cabot, or Chesapeake, the resulting destruction is reprehensible and could have been prevented. By not fracking Pennsylvania shale, for instance.

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  1. Elizabeth Engleman permalink
    February 11, 2014 5:35 pm

    This area, just a short drive from me, is known for numerous covered bridges–“Something from the nineteenth century, a little archaic and strange to nineteen-nineties eyes, picturesque and sentimental, “kissing bridges” recall a time when life was simpler and closer to the land — if only in our dreams.” Mourn for the plundered industrial nightmare.

  2. February 11, 2014 5:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Frack_Free_Farming.

  3. February 11, 2014 6:48 pm

    Is anyone monitoring g the toxic VOC’s that are being released?

  4. Diana Wright permalink
    February 11, 2014 10:57 pm

    Does anyone know what’s going on BELOW the earth’s surface when this happens? Did it blow apart the well, the pipes? Is the fire raging below too from the almost unending source of fuel to feed it? Solar panels don’t blow up. I’m just saying…

  5. February 12, 2014 1:00 am

    What needs to be exposed to shut down these criminals is a public outcry of the radioactivity being released on the public. Depleted uranium is used to fracture the pipe and shale. Google the Halliburton Perf gun patient. Then see the US Congress report on the items used in fracking. Then Google the Veterans Administration on depleted uranium. It is sometimes called Gulf War Syndrome. See the deformed baby’s born in areas where depleted uranium shells were deployed in residential zones. The NRC should be investigating the fracking and controlling the radioactivity. And We The People should make them !

  6. February 12, 2014 11:46 pm

    “Last year Wild Well responded to five surface well blowouts accompanied by fires and 25 other surface blowouts that had no fires.”

  7. February 14, 2014 4:11 pm

    First Responders ask federal administrations to consider adding secondary containment to rail tank cars used to transport chlorine gas, providing lifesaving safety to First Responders and the public they serve. See First Responders Comments at PETITION C KIT


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