Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Explosion Rocks Fracking Well in West Virginia

Energy

AlterNet

By Tara Lohan

An explosion at a nearby gas drilling well pad jostled John Pitcock awake around 4 a.m. Sunday morning.

The view from the Pitcocks' yard of the well flaring gas from the well pad where the explosion occurred on July 7. Photo credit: Tara Lohan/ Meghan Nesbit

Pitcock and his wife Diane moved with their sons from the Baltimore, MD, area to rural New Milton, WV, in Doddridge County nearly a decade ago to enjoy a quiet country life.

But when drilling companies began tapping the underlying Marcellus Shale in the area for natural gas reserves using high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—their peaceful country life disappeared. 

The Pitcocks have been plagued by noise, lights, dust, emissions and truck traffic after a neighbor leased his land to a drilling company, which has erected several well pads on the land adjacent to their property. Over the last year trees have been clear cut, miles of roads built through their rural neighborhood, and drilling has begun. On Friday, July 5, I visited their home and witnessed gas being flared from a well through the night—the light illuminated their front yard from a ridge top about 2,000 feet away. 

John Pitcock reported that the well continued to flare through the next day and night and another well beside it was loudly venting gas on and off. What became a nuisance turned to a real fright during the early morning hours of Sunday as John describes:

The Pitcocks were initially told (after driving off their property to find employees working nearby and emergency response officials) that they needed to evacuate, but were later told it was optional and they could remain.  

Since then conflicting reports have emerged about the number of workers injured and the severity of their injuries at the well pad, which is officially called the Hinterer 2H well on the Ruddy Alt pad and is operated by Antero Resources. The West Virginia Gazette-Mail reported at least seven injured and four or five workers were flown to West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Doddridge County director of emergency services did not return phone calls as of publication. While the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, writing for the Gazette-Mail, David Gutman explained that this is not the first safety issue that Antero has had recently:

  • Last August a spark at an Antero-owned well in Harrison County ignited methane gas several hundred feet underground, causing a fireball and a fire that burned for about an hour. Three workers were injured in that fire.
  • DEP cited Antero for failure to maintain well control for that incident.
  • DEP has cited Antero for 17 violations of state code in the past three years. Those have been primarily environmental violations—for things like failing to prevent waste runoff, failure to report discharges and contaminating waterways.
  • One violation, from Jan. 4, warned, "Imminent danger water supplys [sic] threatened by allowing pollutants to escape and flow into the waters of the state."
  • In June of last year Antero was drilling using water in Harrison County when they accidentally repressurized some old water wells, causing several geysers, one about 10 feet high, that flooded one nearby home and several garages.
  • In March 2011, state regulators shut down an Antero gas well in Harrison County after mud contaminated with drilling chemicals spilled into a nearby stream.

John Pitcock says that he doesn’t think companies should be drilling in this manner in proximity to people’s homes.

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING pages for more related news on this topic.

——–

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Ministry of Trade issued a regulation revoking its decision from February to no longer require Indonesian timber companies to obtain export licenses that certify the wood comes from legal sources. BAY ISMOYO / AFP / Getty Images

By Hans Nicholas Jong

The Indonesian government has backed down from a decision to scrap its timber legality verification process for wood export, amid criticism from activists and the prospect of being shut out of the lucrative European market.

Read More Show Less

Viruses, pollution and warming ocean temperatures have plagued corals in recent years. The onslaught of abuse has caused mass bleaching events and threatened the long-term survival of many ocean species. While corals have little chance of surviving through a mass bleaching, a new study found that when corals turn a vibrant neon color, it's in a last-ditch effort to survive, as CBS News reported.

Read More Show Less
Harmful algal blooms, seen here at Ferril Lake in Denver, Colorado on June 30, 2016, are increasing in lakes and rivers across the U.S. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post / Getty Images

During summer in central New York, residents often enjoy a refreshing dip in the region's peaceful lakes.

But sometimes swimming is off-limits because of algae blooms that can make people sick.

Read More Show Less
A group of doctors prepared to treat coronavirus patients in Brazil. SILVIO AVILA / AFP via Getty Images

More than 40 million doctors and nurses are in, and they are prescribing a green recovery from the economic devastation caused by the new coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shake hands during an event to launch the United Nations' Climate Change conference, COP26, in central London on February 4, 2020. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / POOL / AFP / Getty Images

The U.K. government has proposed delaying the annual international climate negotiations for a full year after its original date to November 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
The Upcycled Food Association announced on May 19 that they define upcycled foods as ones that "use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment." Minerva Studio / Getty Images

By Jared Kaufman

Upcycled food is now an officially defined term, which advocates say will encourage broader consumer and industry support for products that help reduce food waste. Upcycling—transforming ingredients that would have been wasted into edible food products—has been gaining ground in alternative food movements for several years but had never been officially defined.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A couple has a lunch under plexiglass protection designed by Christophe Gernigon at the H.A.N.D restaurant, on May 27, 2020 in Paris, as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. ALAIN JOCARD / AFP via Getty Images

By Thomas A. Russo

As restaurants and bars reopen to the public, it's important to realize that eating out will increase your risk of exposure to the new coronavirus.

Read More Show Less