Accidents

Gas Drilling Accidents

Contrary to the erroneous claims by the gas industry that accidents don’t happen – they do happen, causing tremendous destruction to people and our environment.  Accidents have always occurred with any kind of gas drilling.  A researcher has uncovered 270 accidents related to gas drilling in New York State since 1979.

Below is a compilation of articles about recent gas drilling accidents throughout the United States, which show the many ways that hydrofracking is unsafe.

Methane Making An Appearance In Pa. Water Supplies
by Scott Detroit
NPR – 8/28/12
Mike and Nancy Leighton’s problems began on May 19, just as Mike was settling in to watch the Preakness Stakes. A neighbor in Leroy Township, Pa., called Mike and told him to check the water well located just outside his front door.

“I said, ‘I’ll be down in 15 minutes.’ I wanted to see the race,” Leighton said. But as the horses were racing, Leighton’s well was overflowing. Typically, there’s between 80 to 100 feet of head space between the top of the well and its water supply. But when Leighton went outside, the water was bubbling over the top.

Down the road, Ted and Gale Franklin’s water well had gone dry. When water started coming out later that week, the liquid was “black as coal,” according to Gale. Read More….

4700 Gallons of Acid Spill at Bradford County Drilling Site
by Scott Detrow
StateImpact – July 5, 2012
There’s been another acci­dent at a northeastern Pennsylvania drilling site: 4,700 gallons of hydrochloric acid spilled at a Leroy Town­ship, Bradford County well pad operated by Chief Oil and Gas on Wednesday.

The spill comes two weeks after a thirty-foot methane geyser erupted near a Shell natural gas well in nearby Union Township, Tioga County.  Read more…..

Gas line ruptures in Woodhull, shuts down Route 417
The Corning Leader – May 18, 2012
Woodhull, N.Y.  A pipe at a natural gas well ruptured Friday night, shutting down a section of State Route 417 in the Town of Woodhull on Friday night, triggering a massive emergency response and forcing some residents of the area to be evacuated. 
The incident occurred at roughly 8:45 p.m. at a Dominion gas storage well located behind the home of Reuben Miller, a member of the area’s Amish community who lives at 5731 State Route 417.  Read more….

Deadliest Danger Isn’t at the Rig but on the Road
By Ian Urbina
NY Times – May 14, 2012
After working 17 hours straight at a natural gas well in Ohio, Timothy Roth and three other crew members climbed into their company truck around 10 o’clock one night last July and began their four-hour drive back to their drilling service company’s shop in West Virginia. When they were just 10 minutes from home, the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The truck veered off the highway and slammed into a sign that sheared off part of the vehicle’s side, killing Mr. Roth. Over the past decade, more than 300 oil and gas workers like Mr. Roth were killed in highway crashes, the largest cause of fatalities in the industry. Many of these deaths were due in part to oil field exemptions from highway safety rules that allow truckers to work longer hours than drivers in most other industries, according to safety and health experts. Read more…..

2 workers burned in South Texas fracking explosion
The Associated Press, May 16, 2012
NIXON — Emergency officials say a fiery explosion at an energy company site 
in South Texas has left two workers with burns.

The Gonzales County Sheriff’s Office says the explosion happened early 
Wednesday at a Vann Energy location near Nixon.  A sheriff’s dispatcher says the workers were hurt during the fracturing 
process — known as fracking — that uses chemically treated water crack 
shale deep underground and release natural gas.  The dispatcher says both men suffered second-degree burns and were 
airlifted to a San 
Antonio
hospital. 
Their names and further details on their conditions weren’t immediately 
available.

The cause of the accident has not been determined. Some nearby homes were 
evacuated for about two hours, as a precaution. Company officials declined comment Wednesday. Nixon is about 50 miles southeast of San Antonio.

Explosion rocks natural gas compressor station
thetimes-tribune.com – Laura Legere – March 30, 2012
SPRINGVILLE TWP. – An explosion at a natural gas compressor station in Susquehanna County on Thursday morning blew a hole in the roof of the complex holding the engines, shaking homes as far as a half-mile away and drawing emergency responders from nearby counties.

The 11 a.m. blast at the Lathrop compressor station off Route 29 sent black and gray clouds billowing from the building for several hours, but the damage was contained to the site and no one was injured, said a spokeswoman for Williams Partners LP, which owns the Lathrop station.

Pipeline Spills Put Safeguards Under Scrutiny
The New York Times – Dan Frosch & Janet Roberts – September 9, 2011
DENVER — This summer, an Exxon Mobil pipeline carrying oil across Montana burst suddenly, soiling the swollen Yellowstone River with an estimated 42,000 gallons of crude just weeks after a company inspection and federal review had found nothing seriously wrong.

DiNapoli Plan Provides Response for New Yorkers in Case of Natural Gas Accidents
NYS Comptroller Office – Press Release – August 9, 2011
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today proposed a program to remediate contamination and establish an industry-supported fund to recover damages caused by accidents related to natural gas production.

A Tainted Water Well, and Concern There May Be More
The New York Times – Ian Urbina – August 3, 2011
For decades, oil and gas industry executives as well as regulators have maintained that a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that is used for most natural gas wells has never contaminated underground drinking water.

Flowback from “Fracking” Marcellus Gas Wells in PA has Killed Vegetation, Similar to What Happened in West Virginia Study
The Patriot-News – Donald Gilliland – July 11, 2011
The Pennsylvania environment has experienced die-offs similar to the one documented in a U.S. Forest Service study published last week. In the study, incredibly salty flowback water from “fracking” a natural gas well killed plants almost immediately when it was legally sprayed on a quarter-acre of West Virginia forest. Within two years, over half the trees were dead.

Neighbors of U.S. Gas Well Blowout Fear the Worst
Reuters – Dave Warner – April 11, 2011
Dairy farmer Christine Pepper’s worst fears were realized when a natural gas drill 3 miles from her home blew out, spilling toxic fluid into a creek.

Drilling Down Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers
The New York Times – Ian Urbina – February 26, 2011
The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas. The gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.

3,400 Gallons of Frack Water Spilled in Accident
The Express – Staff Reports – February 22, 2011
SWISSDALE – The state Department of Environmental Protection confirmed this morning that 3,400 gallons of treated frack flowback water were spilled during Friday’s tri-axle truck crash on the Coudersport Pike, near the “horseshoe curve.”

Update 1 –UGI Utilities says Pennsylvania Blast kills 5
Reuters – February 11, 2011
Natural gas and electric utility UGI Utilities Inc, a unit of UGI Corp , said an explosion on Wednesday night at one of its gas pipelines in Allentown, Pennsylvania, killed five people.

Fire Chiefs:  Traffic Congestion is Delaying Emergency Response Times in Bradford County
The Daily Review – James Loewenstein – January 26, 2011
NORTH TOWANDA TOWNSHIP – As a result of the increased traffic on roads in the Towanda area, the number of traffic accidents last year on the “Golden Mile” in Wysox Township more than doubled, and the increased traffic congestion is delaying firefighters from getting to the scene of emergencies, two fire chiefs said Tuesday.

Rise in Fracking Accidents Prompts Anti-Drilling Rallies
Workers World – Betsey Piette – December 4, 2010
Contrary to gas drilling industry claims that hydraulic fracturing is “accident free,” Texas-based XTO Energy has racked up 31 violations at 20 wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania in 2010.

Fracking Fluid Leak may Reach 30 Miles
Sun Gazette – Philip A. Holmes – October 9, 2010
HUGHESVILLE – Route 220 from Main Street to Lime Bluff Road was closed for much of Friday after borough police stopped a low-boy trailer that was leaking an undetermined amount of non-corrosive frack fluid, according to Police Chief Jason Gill.

Hydraulic Fracturing Makes Drinking Water Nice and Flammable
NY Magazine – September 3, 2010
The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking” — sorry, Battlestar Galactica fans) extracts natural gas from deep underground by using drillers to pump large quantities of water mixed with sand and chemicals under high pressure. That process fractures the rock formation, letting the gas flow freely.

Man Says Gas in Water Well Ignited, Burned Him
The Pike County Courier – August 4, 2010
CHICORA — The Associated Press reports that a western Pennsylvania man was working on a water slide for his kids when natural gas seeping from his water well exploded, burning him.

E.P.A. Considers Risks of Gas Extraction
The New York Times – Tom Zeller, Jr. – July 23, 2010
CANONSBURG, Pa. – The streams of people came to the public meeting here armed with stories of yellowed and foul-smelling well water, deformed livestock, poisoned fish and itchy skin.

Rig Survivors:  BP Ordered Shortcut on Day of the Blast 
CNN – Scott Bronstein and Wayne Drash – June 9, 2010
The morning the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, a BP executive and a Transocean official argued over how to proceed with the drilling, rig survivors told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview.

Gas Spews from N.W. PA Well Rupture
The Philadelphia Inquirer – Amy Worden – June 5, 2010
HARRISBURG – Natural gas and polluted wastewater blasted out of a well in Northwestern Pennsylvania for 16 hours before being contained Friday in what officials say was the state’s most alarming drilling-related accident in recent years.

More than 20 Blowouts Have Occurred at Barnett Shale Wells
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram – Jack Z. Smith – June 4, 2010
Well blowouts are unusual, but certainly not unheard of in North Texas’ Barnett Shale, the largest natural gas-producing area in the U.S.

Robert Kennedy Jr., Environmentalists Hear of Gas Woes in Dimock
The Times-Tribune – Laura Legere – June 4, 2010
DIMOCK TWP. – Residents’ complaints about spills, leaks and drinking-water contamination from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling drew several high-profile environmentalists to Susquehanna County on Thursday. They included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of the nation’s foremost environmental attorneys, who called the natural gas industry “just completely and utterly untrustworthy.”

Gas Drillers Plead Guilty to Felony Dumping Violations
ProPublica – Sabrina Shankman – February 22, 2010
Since a gas drilling boom in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale began in 2008, companies have been fined regularly for environmental accidents — $23,500 here for spilling 5,000 gallons of waste, $15,557 there for spilling 295 gallons of hydrochloric acid.

Sudden Death of Ecosystem Ravages Long Creek ‘Everything is Being Killed’161 Aquatic Species have Died Along Dunkard Creek
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Don Hopey – September 20, 2009
Just 20 days ago, Dunkard Creek, which meanders lazily back and forth across the border of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, was one of the most ecologically diverse streams in both states, containing freshwater mussels, mudpuppy salamanders and a host of fish species from minnows to 3-foot-long muskies.

Hazardous Chemicals Cited in Drilling Spill
Press Connects – Tom Wilber – September 18, 2009
DIMOCK Pa. — Drilling fluids that spilled into the headwaters of Stevens Creek contain a class of hazardous chemicals called volatile organic compounds, according to the latest information from environmental officials.

Water Problems From Drilling Are More Frequent Than PA Officials Said
ProPublica – Abrahm Lustgarten – July 31, 2009
When methane began bubbling out of kitchen taps near a gas drilling site in Pennsylvania last winter, a state regulator described the problem as “an anomaly.” But at the time he made that statement to ProPublica, that same official was investigating a similar case affecting more than a dozen homes near gas wells halfway across the state.

Based on extensive study and scientific evidence, Catskill Mountainkeeper has called for a ban on fracking. We are also working within the existing regulatory process in New York to raise critical issues, widen the discussion of the impacts of drilling, and expand the options available to protect the public.