MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A spark from a natural gas drilling operation in north-central West Virginia ignited methane gas several hundred feet underground early Friday, sending up a fireball and triggering a blaze that officials said burned for about an hour on the floor of the rig.
Three workers were injured, two seriously enough to be airlifted to a hospital after the fire at the Antero Resources site near Sycamore in Harrison County. The fire was quickly extinguished and the well pad was in a rural area, so it posed no danger to the public.
Two victims were flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. A third was transported by ambulance.
Their conditions weren’t immediately available, but state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said one had returned to the job site by 9 a.m.
Workers were in the early stages of drilling a Marcellus shale gas well. The drill was about 400 feet deep when they began to withdraw it, creating a spark that ignited the methane. That created more of a fireball than an explosion, he said.
The accident happened at the Cottrill No. 3 well on Antero’s Southern pad, and the crew doing the work was with Hall Drilling LLC of Ellenboro.
Neither Hall Drilling nor Colorado-based Antero immediately returned messages Friday.
Antero voluntarily shut down the operation, and a DEP investigation is under way.
Legal Insight You Need for Your Gas Well Injury Claim
West Virginia workers have had a long-standing tradition of persevering and working hard in spite of dangerous and exhausting conditions. As the oil and gas drilling industry grows, an increasing number of workers are experiencing accidents resulting in serious permanent injuries and wrongful death.
In most cases, a worker who is injured on the job will be able to receive some benefits from a Worker’s Compensation claim. In West Virginia, if employer is found to have intentionally placed their employee in harm’s way, resulting in serious injury or death, that employee may qualify to file a claim against the employer’s insurance company.
Many injured workers think that their financial damages for medical bills and lost earnings are limited to West Virginia workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation laws say that you cannot hold your employer accountable for damages above the amount of benefits paid by the workers’ comp insurance unless you can prove the employer acted with “deliberate intent,” as provided in W. Va. Code 23-4-2.
In many workplace injury and wrongful death cases, however, there may also be a third party who can be held liable for negligence. The third party can include the manufacturer of a piece of defective industrial equipment, the property owner or a subcontractor working on the same job site.
If you or your loved one has been injured due to negligence or willful violation of safety regulations in the workplace, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim. Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now. Call Jeff Robinette today for a free evaluation of your case at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 or visit our website for more information.
We are glad to provide free books and information for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide: 304-594-1800.
Source: Pipeline, ” Three Hurt in WV Gas Line Explosion,” http://shale.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/news/archives/24751-three-hurt-in-wva-gas-well-explosion, August 17, 2012