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Houston employee missing in gas pipeline blast

As our readers know, the reach of the Texas oil and natural gas industry is global. In one operation far from us, an employee of a Houston-based firm is missing after a Pennsylvania natural gas well erupted in flames earlier this week in what appears to be a pipeline accident.

Another worker was injured in the blaze at a Marcellus Shale well 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. 

A State Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson said late Wednesday that moisture inside the well owned by Chevron had partially put out the flames.

Specialized firefighters brought to the scene were monitoring the situation and a Chevron spokesperson said the company is battling the blaze by attempting to stop the flow of gas while trying to keep the fire from spreading to a pair of other wells at the site.

A witness described an early Tuesday morning explosion as sounding “like a jet engine going five feet above your house.”

Because of the blaze’s intense heat, local firefighters who arrived first on the scene could not get close enough to the fire to do anything. They retreated to let the fire burn.

The heat caused an on-site tanker truck loaded with propane to explode, a media report stated.

A spokesperson for Pennsylvania state police said troopers were told that the blaze “will not be contained and we will not have access to that property for at least a few days.”

The Pennsylvania EPA official said he was told the fire was likely not a drilling accident (the site was drilled in March 2012), but more likely sparked in the process of installing a pipeline connecting the well to Chevron’s gas production network.

This incident illustrates once again the dangers of pipeline work.

For those injured in this dangerous line of work, a conversation with a personal injury lawyer can clarify available legal options enabling workers to pursue compensation for medical costs, lost income and other damages.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Greene County shale well continues burning," Feb. 12, 2014

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