Breaking: One Missing After Gas Well Explodes in Western Pennsylvania
“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.
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.