3 injured in gas well fire during Marcellus shale drilling

3 injured in gas well fire during Marcellus shale drilling Front Page by Star Gazette, Aug. 17, 2012
Authorities say three people have been injured in a gas well fire at an Antero Resources operation in Harrison County. The flames are out and there’s no public danger. Sgt. Heather Mick of the Harrison County 911 Center says the victims were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown after the blast around 4 a.m. Friday near Sycamore. Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise says workers were in the early stages of drilling a Marcellus shale gas well. As they withdrew the drill, a spark ignited methane gas, creating a fireball and a fire on the rig floor. [Later Reporting] 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. … Workers were in the early stages of drilling a Marcellus shale gas well, Aluise said. The drill was about 400 feet deep when they began to withdraw it, creating a spark that ignited the methane. … The rig was damaged badly enough that a new one may need to be brought in “if and when they resume drilling,” Aluise said. In June, another Antero drilling operation triggered several backyard geysers when workers struck an aquifer in the Sardis area and inadvertently re-pressurized a handful of old water wells. Emergency management officials and residents said some were 10- to 12-feet high. … On July 31, the DEP ordered Antero to provide a detailed incident report, including a chart outlining the pressures involved, a list of the water wells that were affected and the current status of those wells. The DEP also wants pre- and post-water analyses for each of those wells, along with a map showing their locations in relation to the well pad. The letter from Office of Oil and Gas Director James Martin also demands information about any water wells that Antero drilled and a report that cites “any direct or indirect cause” and lays out what Antero will do in the future to minimize the likelihood of another incident. Antero vice president Al Schopp said at the time that workers were drilling an initial hole with just fresh water and air when the bit became stuck. Rather than turn the air flow off, the crew left it on as they tried to withdraw the drill. That recharged the aquifer and trapped the air, which then sought a place to escape.

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