The Marcellus Shale formation stretches across almost 100,000 square miles of the northeastern U.S., including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. Estimates are that the formation contains as much as 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
A method called fracking has allowed drilling companies to reach previously inaccessible deposits. Pumping a mixture of water, chemicals and sand into the shale breaks up rock releasing the gas trapped inside. West Virginia and Pennsylvania have been at the center of the drilling boom.
West Virginia accident takes the life of one worker
A recent West Virginia accident at a well pad highlights some of the dangers for those who work in the gas well drilling field.
The rural Taylor County accident happened early in the morning hours. An explosion killed one worker as he was trying to transfer briny wastewater from a tank into a truck. The Department of Environmental Protection is investigating, but acknowledges that some chemicals in the brine might be flammable. The accident happened at a producing well site, which indicates that dangers exist even when the drilling is finished.
Concerns for property owners
Not only are there risks for the workers employed in extracting the gas, but property owners who have signed mineral right leases and those with property near gas wells may also suffer damage.
The company operating the well pad called the fatality an “industrial accident.” A representative for the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association said that he was not aware that brine could explode. He mentioned that more common accidents involve brine spills.
A representative of the West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization explained that volatile organic compounds used in fracking fluids have vapors that can be explosive. People living near the well pads worry that compounds vented from wastewater storage may even harm air quality.
Accidental brine spills or runoff are a serious problem and can contaminate surface water especially in hilly or mountainous areas where runoff can easily flow onto neighboring property. Worries persist that fracking liquid injected into the shale could possibly contaminate the water table and affect wells and drinking water. A consultation with a Marcellus Shale drilling liability attorney is one way to better understand possible remedies, if you notice property damage or contamination tied to neighboring drilling operations.
Following an injury or any property damage associated with the Marcellus Shale Field, it is important to contact an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney. Claims are complicated and drilling company insurance providers aggressively defend against injury and damage claims.