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Explosion at West Virginia natural gas well site injures five workers

A Sunday morning natural gas explosion at an Antero Resources Natural Gas well in New Milton, West Virginia rattled the windows of nearby Doddridge county residents.  The explosions, thought to be caused by dangerous natural gas vapors, injured five workers from three separate natural gas contracting companies.  The injured workers were flown to the Burn Center at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.  As of Monday afternoon, July 8, 2013, four were listed in serious condition and one was stable.

A spark triggered a flash explosion and a fire after a problem during the “flow back” process when fracking and drilling fluids are pumped into storage tanks, according to Pat Heaster, director of emergency services in Doddridge County.  The “flow back” process is necessary after hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which millions of gallons of water and chemicals are pumped deed underground to release natural gas from shale rock.

Two storage tanks containing this dangerous natural gas fracking fluid from the well exploded around 4 a.m. on Sunday.  Officials with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were on the scene and investigating the incident.

Three of the workers were employed by Nabors Completion and Production Service and one each by C and R Downhole Drilling and Willowbend Investments, Inc.  There were three wells on the “Ruddy Alt” wellpad in New Milton, West Virginia where the explosions occurred.  It is suspected that dangerous natural gas and other volatile fumes had accumulated inside the natural gas tanks and exploded due to an equipment malfunction, causing the tanks to rupture.  

Vapor explosions caused by volatile and flammable substances, like natural gas, are responsible for some of the most devastating burn injuries suffered by natural gas workers.   For this reason, it is of upmost importance that natural gas drilling companies properly maintain their wells, tanks, and drilling equipment for safety.  If the proper safety and maintenance precautions are not followed, natural gas workers are put in harm’s way and can experience serious burn injuries from natural gas explosions.  

Often times, however, natural gas corporations and employers put profits above the safety of its employees and the general public.  This profit over safety mentality has resulted in devastating injuries to far too many people.  The personal injury attorneys at Colombo Law previously discovered the devastation that can result when natural gas companies cut corners on safety in a West Virginia Natural Gas Lawsuit that was featured in the New York Times.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/us/for-oil-workers-deadliest-danger-is-driving.html?_r=2&emc=eta1&  As the The New York Times article highlights, these bad practices by natural gas companies can ultimately lead to tragedy for natural gas workers and their employees.  Natural gas explosions are almost always preventable, but when companies cut corners to save money, tragic accidents happen.

Personal injury and wrongful death cases have strict timelines for filing claims and it is important not to let these pass by.  If you or someone you know has been seriously injured, contact the West Virginia Accident Attorneys of Colombo Law at 304-599-4229. Thousands of workers are injured each year in accidents that happen on the job. These injuries often require substantial medical treatment, cause permanent disability, and result in temporary or permanent loss of time from work. The economic and emotional impact of these injuries upon the injured workers and their loved ones can be devastating. Colombo Law has a history of fighting for the rights of workers and maximizing the recoveries for their injuries. 

We represent accident victims in Fairmont, Clarksburg, Morgantown, and throughout North Central West Virginia.

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