A Chevron natural gas well explosion left one person injured and one missing on Tuesday. Between twenty and thirty workers were in the area at the time of the explosion at a Chevron Appalachia natural gas well site in Dunkard Township about 70 miles south of Pittsburgh, the local Observer-Reporter noted.
The explosion occurred around 6:45am and the fire continued to burn throughout the day. On Wednesday, the fire was still burning, according to a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
The well was in the final stages of preparation for production. It was drilled more than a year ago and fracked last spring, according to workers at the site.
Four fire companies that responded to the scene did not attempt to extinguish the blaze. “They knew from the get-go, basically, it was something they would not be able to extinguish,” state police trooper Stefani Plume said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Officials set up a half-mile perimeter around the site as the fire continued to burn. A team sent by Chevron arrived at the site late Tuesday afternoon, though DEP spokesman John Poister said the process to control the well could take days, according to the Observer-Reporter.
The Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania is one of the most heavily-fracked areas in the United States. Just last week, the state’s governor Tom Corbett proposed lifting a 4-year-old ban on fracking in state parks and forests, saying leasing those areas to private companies could bring in an additional $75 million, ClimateProgress reports.
“We’re going to see many more catastrophes like this because of cutbacks of safety regulations by politicians who put ideology and profit over human life,” said Mike Papantonio, host of Ring of Fire and a senior partner with the Florida law firm of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty, and Proctor.
Last month, Chevron was hit with a $5 billion lawsuit for its deadly Nigerian gas rig explosion of 2012. An explosion on an offshore gas exploration rig killed 2 workers and contaminated water, soil, and air in surrounding areas. Chevron is accused of disregarding public and environmental health and safety.